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The Rivers of Bowery

an overture for winds, brass, and percussion

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See Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City

The Rivers of Bowery is an overture with a triumphant vision of the City as complex machine, capable of incubating the lowest in human nature as well as harnessing the best of Man’s intentions. The title comes directly from Allen Ginsberg‘s glorious chronicle of Beat counterculture, Howl. Written in 1956, in a tenement about 2 blocks from where I live on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Howl celebrates the Beat counterculture by breathlessly rejoicing in the underdog grit of Ginsberg’s beloved bohemia. The image is extracted from the line:

…who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery.

Ginsberg’s river is a rush of people, and not the usual sunny city dwellers of an E.B. White essay or an O’Henry story, but his specific anti-community of the lost, the drugged, and the outcast. Ginsberg presents his city as possessing a triumphant spirit, neighbors piled on top of each other, never letting each other down despite being torn apart by society and by themselves.

Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City (2008-9) is a 3-mvt expansion of The Rivers of Bowery.

Read a longer program note with more background on this work in the composer’s notebook.

Genres:   Winds

Subgenres:   Large Ensemble


Picc, 2Fl, Ob, Bsn, CBsn, EbClar, 3Clar, BClar, SSax, ASax, TSax, BSax, 2Trpt, 4Hn, 2Trb, BTrb, Euph, Tba, Pno, 6Perc (2Glock/ Crot/ Mar/ Vibr/ Tri/ T-T/ TubBells/ WindCh/ SusCym/ RideCym/ 3TunedButtonGongs/ BD/ WBl)

Commissioned by

the Rutgers Wind Ensemble for the 2005 CBDNA National Conference, New York City

Recorded on

  1. Raritonality

Recent Performances

  • May 1, 2018 - Texas Tech University Symphonic Band at Hemmle Recital Hall, Texas Tech University. Conducted by Dr. Eric Allen.
  • July 17, 2016 - Young Artists Wind Ensemble, Boston University Tanglewood Institute at Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA. Conducted by David Martins.
  • January 29, 2015 - University of Central Missouri Wind Ensemble at Tan-Tar-A Resort, Missouri Music Educators Association Convention. Conducted by Scott Lubaroff.