Rio Grande

From Wind Repertory Project
Michael Daugherty

Michael Daugherty

General Info

Year: 2015
Duration: c. 9:00
Difficulty: V
Publisher: Bill Holab Music
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


Flutes I-II-III-IV
Oboes I-II
English Horn (optional but recommended)
Bassoons I-II
E-flat Clarinet
B-flat Clarinets I-II-III-IV
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contralto Clarinet (optional but recommended)
B-f;at Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
C or Bb Trumpets I-II-III
Trombones I-II
Bass Trombone
Euphoniums I-II
Tubas I-II
Contrabass (optional but preferred)
Percussion (4 players), including:

  • Bass Drums (2: large, very large)
  • Bongos
  • Marimba
  • Suspended Cymbal (very large)
  • Tom Toms (2: medium, large)
  • Woodblocks (4)
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

I have composed concert music inspired by American landscapes such as Niagara Falls (1997) for symphonic band, Route 66 (1996) for orchestra, Gees Bend (2009) for electric guitar and orchestra, Mount Rushmore (2010) for choir and orchestra, Lost Vegas for orchestra or symphonic band (2011) and Reflections on the Mississippi for Tuba and Band or symphony orchestra (2013). I continue my exploration of creating unique aural landscapes with Rio Grande (2015) for symphonic band.

The Rio Grande is a 1,250-mile river which flows from the mountains of southern Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville, Texas. The river forms a natural boundary between the USA and Mexico as it winds its way through El Paso, Texas, down to Big Bend National Park. It is at Big Bend, one of the largest, most arid and remote areas of the United States, that one experiences the magical canyons and spectacular rock formations that line the “Big River” or, as it is know in Mexico, “Rio Bravo”.

In my Rio Grande, I have composed a dynamic, expansive musical landscape that is stark, haunting, agitated and majestic. The percussion section, comprised of timpani, bongos, woodblocks, tom-toms and bass drums, creates a rhythmic undercurrent to an angular motif, first heard in the woodwinds, which emerges high above the precipice. This jagged motif is passed on to individual instruments, such as tuba, and eventually in various colorful guises to the entire symphonic band. Reminding us of the long cultural history associated with the Rio Grande, we also hear ghostly Mexican mariachi music echoing far away through the canyons. In the coda, I combine all the musical material heard throughout the composition to create a majestic ending to our journey down the timeless Rio Grande.

Rio Grande for symphonic band was commissioned by the University of North Texas and a consortium consisting of the CBDNA North Central Division Intercollegiate Band, Clovis North Educational Center, Concordia University-Chicago, De Pauw University, Great Dallas Youth Orchestra’s Wind Symphony, Lone Star Wind Orchestra, Luther College, Messiah College, Ohio University, Pacific Lutheran University, Sam Houston State University, San Diego State University, South Carolina Intercollegiate Band, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Texas Tech University, University of Michigan, University of North Dakota, University of Sydney, University of Texas-Austin and University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Brownsville. It was first performed by the North Texas Wind Symphony, conducted by Eugene Migliaro Corporon, at the University of North Texas, Murchison Performing Arts Center, Denton, Texas, on October 22, 2015.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Kitelinger, Shannon. "Rio Grande." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 11, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 993-1000. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018.
  • Michael Daugherty website.