Cameron Park’s bike trails may trigger certain memories for their riders, but they’re music to the ears of Baylor University composer Carlos Colon — well, music to his listeners’ ears.
Colon has written an 11-minute piece for oboe and strings, “Cameron Park Suite,” that will debut Friday night in a public concert at Baylor’s Armstrong Browning Library, as part of the Ecology & Religion in 19th Century Studies Conference held this week.
The work, part of “Pulses of the Universe,” a musical program exploring the intersection of nature and faith, has six movements, five of which are named for Cameron Park bike trails and landmarks: Brazos de Dios, Rio Perdido, Act of Faith, Miss Nellie’s Garden and Jacob’s Ladder.
“I know the trails from years of mountain biking,” Colon said. “Rio Perdido, I have fallen there many times.”
The piece’s concluding movement, Heaven’s Declaration, draws its inspiration from the Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem “Aurora Leigh,” he said.
Colon, Baylor assistant director for worship and chapel, said he had been asked last December by Baylor associate professor of English Joshua King and Armstrong Browning Library director Jennifer Borderud to write some music as part of the conference.
‘Brazos de Dios’
Cameron Park and the larger river running through it came to mind as a subject as he thought about the religious root of the Brazos River’s name: an abbreviation of Rio de los Brazos de Dios, “the river of the arms of God,” given it by Spanish missionaries and explorers.
Baylor oboe assistant professor Euridice Alvarez will perform with six string players. The chamber work, orchestrated by Mexican composer Daniel Perez, reverses a “theme and variations” musical structure with the complete theme revealed in the last movement, Colon said.
“Pulses of the Universe” also features Greg Scheer’s “Binsey Poplars,” a setting of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem mourning the loss of a grove of trees cut down; three Colon songs set to verses from Christina Rossetti’s “All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee O Lord;” the North American premiere of Colon’s “Te Deum Latinoamericano,” written in celebration of the canonization of San Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero; and the composer’s setting of the Greek Orthodox hymn “O Gladsome Light.”
This week’s conference is held at four sites — Baylor, the University of Washington, Georgetown University and Lancaster University in the United Kingdom — with sessions communicated over the internet and Twitter to minimize air transportation and reduce the conference’s carbon footprint. Friday’s concert will not be streamed live, but recorded for future use.
“Pulses of the Universe” will take place at 7 p.m. Friday in Baylor’s Armstrong Browning Library, 710 Speight Ave. It is free and open to the public.