music-driven eco-documentary

The Colorado

co-released with VisionIntoArt (VIA Records)

available digitally May 13 and physically May 29

 DVD to be released at a later date

feat. Roomful of Teeth, Jeffrey Zeigler, and Wilco’s Glenn Kotche performing works by John Luther Adams, William Brittelle, Paola Prestini and more

debut track "An Unknown Distance Yet to Run" by
Shara (Worden) Nova now streaming via Soundcloud

live performance and viewing at NYC’s Met Museum on May 18


pre-order via iTunes and Amazon


The Colorado represents a new kind of documentary in which music takes center stage; a feature documentary that is both narrated and sung, a live performance, and a comprehensive educational resource. A crossroads between art, ecology and regional history, while sensitizing audiences to pressing issues of our times, The Colorado explores the Colorado River Basin from a holistic perspective and places the ecological predicaments of the region in a rich social and historical context. The project is driven by original compositions from New Amsterdam Records co-founder William Brittelle, Glenn Kotche, Paola PrestiniShara Nova (previously known as Shara Worden), and Pulitzer Prize laureate John Luther Adams, all expertly performed by Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, Avery Fisher Prize-winning and former Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, and composer-percussionist Glenn Kotche.

The album's debut track, "An Unknown Distance Yet to Run" by Shara (Worden) Nova is now streaming via Soundcloud, and pre-order for the album is now available via iTunes and Amazon.

The Colorado also draws on the combined talents of distinguished scriptwriter, conservationist, and general advisor, Pulitzer Prize-finalist William deBuys; editor David Sarno; director Murat Eyuboglu; and Emmy Award-winning cinematographer Sylvestre Campe.The film is narrated by Tony Award-winning Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance (who is not featured on the album). The album was produced, mixed and engineered by Ryan Kelly, with Brittelle and Zeigler serving as co-producers.

The album component of The Colorado will be released digitally May 13 andphysically May 27 on New Amsterdam Records in partnership withVisionIntoArt (VIA) Records. The DVD will be released at a later date.

The Colorado will have its NYC premiere at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 18, where the film – complete with recorded narration by Rylance – will accompany live accounts of its exhilarating score from Roomful of Teeth, Jeffrey Zeigler, and Glenn Kotche, who will also live score and improvise during Rylance’s narration.

photo by Murat Eyuboglu

photo by Murat Eyuboglu

The mission of The Colorado is to create a crossroads between art, ecology and regional history, while sensitizing audiences to pressing issues of our times. The Colorado River has carved some of the most majestic landscapes on the planet for five million years, and its delta as a lush wetland is within living memory. Today, with a booming agricultural industry to support and nearly forty million people in a half-dozen major cities dependent on its waters, the Colorado is overused, over-promised, and unable even to reach its delta.

The Colorado takes its audience on a 1,500-mile journey from the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, through the red cliffs of the Grand Canyon, to drought-plagued California. The project explores topics ranging from prehistoric settlements and early cartographers to today’s agricultural day laborers; from the construction of the Hoover Dam to its eventual annihilation of the river’s Mexican delta; and from the floods and megadroughts of history to the many catastrophic phenomena that climate change is already bringing to the region.

Integral to realizing this vision was the involvement of advisor and scriptwriter William deBuys, whose seven books include River of Traps, a New York TimesNotable Book of the Year and one of three finalists for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize. Long active in environmental affairs, it was deBuys whose efforts led to the permanent protection of over 150,000 acres of wild lands in North Carolina and the Southwest. His achievements have been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Range Management Award of the U.S. Forest Service. 

“I have been drawn to the tragedy and beauty of the Colorado River Basin and surrounding area since visiting the Salton Sea on a whim in 2007,” says William Brittelle, New Amsterdam Records co-founder and The Colorado composer and co-producer. “I feel what William deBuys has so expertly called a sense of ‘elegy’ about the entire region. Many of the changes happening are now irreversible, and it feels extremely meaningful to commemorate the river and all it has given to the communities that rely on it for their very existence.

In the film component, deBuys’s text is narrated by Mark Rylance, and accompanies music by The Colorado's five composers, each of whom brings to the project a unique and highly distinctive voice. (Rylance’s narration is not featured on the album.) Hailed as “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century” (New Yorker)John Luther Adams has won both the Pulitzer Prize in Music and the Heinz Award for his contributions to raising environmental awareness. The co-founder of New Amsterdam Records, Brooklyn’s William Brittelle is the creator of pop-influenced electro-acoustic concert music thatClassical TV calls “a body of work that has no precedent, and marks him as a one of the most promising heirs of the vital American maverick tradition.” Chicago-based percussionist and composer Glenn Kotche, best known as the drummer of indie-rock outfit Wilco, has also composed for such world-class ensembles as the Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, So Percussion, eighth blackbird, and the Silk Road Ensemble. Dubbed “a creative chameleon with endless wells of technical skill” (Pitchfork), Shara Nova (previously known as Shara Worden) enjoys a multi-faceted career, fronting experimental rock band My Brightest Diamond and collaborating with the likes of David Byrne, David Lang, and Laurie Anderson, in addition to writing her own music. And VIA founder Paola Prestini – named one of the “top 100 composers in the world under 40” (NPR) – incorporates powerful visual and dramatic elements into her music, enabling her to address such extra-musical issues as conservation, astrophysics, and politics in works that the Washington Post calls “spellbinding.”

The Colorado is the first in a series of three multimedia projects designed to foster better understanding and stewardship of the environment. A textbook component that corresponds to the film section by section, with original text, timelines, maps, photographs and videos is planned for release in winter 2016. This educational resource will be available both in an artbook-style print edition and as a state-of-the-art website.

The Colorado track list:

1. “Beginnings” (Glenn Kotche)
2. “A Padre, a Horse, a Telescope” (Paola Prestini)
3. “An Unknown Distance Yet to Run” (Shara Nova) LISTEN
4. “Shimmering Desert” (William Brittelle)
5. “Colossus” (William Brittelle)
6. “Cathedrals in the Desert” (John Luther Adams)
7. “El Corrido de Joe R.” (Paola Prestini)
8. “Welcome to the Anthropocene” (Shara Nova)
9. “Palette of a New Creation” (Glenn Kotche)

Performers: Roomful of Teeth, vocal ensemble; Glenn Kotche, percussion;Jeffrey Zeigler, cello.

Writers: William deBuys and Murat Eyuboglu; Lyrics: William deBuys; Advisor: William deBuys; Director: Murat Eyuboglu; Cinematography: Murat Eyuboglu and Sylvestre Campe.

Performance Details:

May 18, 7pm
New York Premiere
 of The Colorado 
Metropolitan Museum of Art