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Bill Frisell to Premiere New Work at Ellnora Guitar Festival in Illinois

Guitarist collaborates with filmmaker Bill Morrison for The Great Flood, a multimedia piece about 1927 flood of Mississippi River

Poster for The Great Flood, multimedia collaboration between Bill Frisell and Bill Morrison
Still from The Great Flood
Bill Morrison

The Mississippi River looms large in American history and culture. Mark Twain, Vicksburg, the Great Migration, Bisecting the country both geographically and even culturally, the river is entwined with nearly every aspect of American society, providing a conduit, barrier and, occasionally cause of natural disaster. For guitarist Bill Frisell, it was the latter that inspired him to create a musical work in collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison. Their multimedia piece of original music and film is called The Great Flood and will debut at Ellnora, Guitar Festival at Krannert Center in Urbanna, Illinois on September 2011.

This is neither artist’s first time at the multimedia rodeo. Frisell has composed numerous scores for silent films, including Buster Keaton films and many more. And the experimental filmmaker Morrison directed Spark of Being, a film based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, that was scored by Dave Douglas. The subject of their collaboration for Ellnora is the often overlooked flood of the Mississippi River in the spring of 1927, when the river broke out of its banks in 145 places and devastated much of the deep South, including uncounted sharecroppers and farmers. Sadly, given the current state of affairs along the same river and the terrible tragedy of Katrina nearly six years ago, the topic of a 1927 disaster seems oddly contemporary.

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