About this Piece
In addition to the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Trails System, 2018 marked the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail. In the full suite, I strive to evoke the essence of the landscape along the route. The movements represent three very specific and different sites – two of which appear very similar to the 19th century. The most famous site – Willamette Falls in Oregon, was immediately industrialized for its power. Each “location” represents important places for both the trail’s historic inhabitants and the settlers who traversed the trail to reach what they imagined was the land of bounty. Thus, the music attempts to take the listener back to the landscape itself, and to life prior to settlement and during the pioneers’ cross-country experience. The emotions of these people, both with historical ties to the landscape, and the travelers moving through, found their way into the music.
Hyas Tyee Təmwata (Willamette Falls) Oregon; Willamette Falls is the largest waterfall in Oregon Territory and second only to Niagara Falls in the envisioned United States. Fur traders and painters had built up this landscape as North America’s Eden. This was the end point of the Oregon Trail – the destination that nearly half a million people strove to reach. Prior to the migration of Americans here, Hyas Tyee Təmwata flourished as a major fishery, with a thriving society of people living in semi-permanent villages of wooden structures. The third movement ties together the falls, the traditional importance of the landscape and the excitement of the setters upon their arrival.
Update: The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
became owners of the property at Willamette Falls in April 2019.
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