The Colorado

ComposersJohn Luther Adams, William Brittelle, Glenn Kotche, Paola Prestini, and Shara Worden
Performing Ensemble: Roomful of Teeth, percussionist Glenn Kotche, and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler
Narrator: Mark Rylance
Script & General Advisor: William deBuys
Director: Murat Eyuboglu
Cinematography: Sylvestre Campe & Murat Eyuboglu
Editor: David Sarno
Education Advisor: Michael Preston
Writer/Educator: Christa Sadler


The Colorado is a music-based documentary that explores the Colorado River Basin from social and ecological perspectives across history. The project is conceived as equal parts documentary film, live performance, and an educational tool for classrooms.

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, overpromised, and unable even to reach its delta.

We believe that effective stewardship of land and water begins with love and knowledge and continues with dedicated activism. We have designed The Colorado to inspire the love, instill the knowledge, and encourage the activism.

The film component of the project is an immersive and sensorial experience in which music and images play a central role. Brief voiceover texts—narrated by the great Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance—lead the viewer into each section of the film. Contextual images along with lyrics—sung by the 2014 Grammy laureate Roomful of Teeth—explore topics ranging from the prehistoric settlements of the region to the present-day plight of the Colorado River Delta. The intervening sections cover crucial facets of the river’s history, such as the period of European exploration, the dam-building era and its legacy, and industrial agriculture and immigration, as well as the impact of climate change on the region.

A full-length textbook (approximately 400 pages), corresponding section by section to the film, will offer students and the general public the opportunity to explore any of the topics addressed in the film in greater depth. These educational materials include original text, along with timelines, maps, photographs, videos, teaching aids, and more. Making this content available in both an art-book– style print edition and a state-of-the-art website will provide all interested parties with a reference tool as well as a source of in-depth learning.

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 is intended to be the first in a series of multi-media projects, cultivating a layered understanding of different regions, towards a better stewardship of resources.


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Release Date: May 24, 2017