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Pecos Bill and Slewfoot Sue

by Matthew Pierce

Texas Night 03:06
Pecos Bill 02:37
Townsfolk 01:00
Slewfoot Sue 03:15


Pecos, a story ballet, doesn't seem to know yet whether it's a comedy or a tragedy. Tragedy wins, but not convincingly. Bill falls off a covered wagon as a baby; he's raised by coyotes, then becomes the world's greatest cowboy. He's the only guy who isn't killed by his aptly named horse, Widowmaker. But there's a cowgirl who also tames the beast, Slue-Foot Sue -- Bill's perfect match. Welch sets up a playful trio of girly girls who vie for Bill's attention. Bill gives Sue a silky dress to stave off their taunts, but it turns out to be a deadly gesture. She's wearing the slippery dress when she mounts Widowmaker, and he quickly bucks her off into the sky. Sue becomes a star, and Bill is left alone, howling.

Matthew Pierce's music is possibly the best commissioned score in Houston Ballet's history, and conductor Ermanno Florio and the Houston Ballet Orchestra find all the nuances. It opens and closes with high violins conjuring up crickets at night. Then coyotes howl and snap. Thunder crashes from the tympanis. Once humans enter the picture, familiar tunes -- Happy Trails to You, The Yellow Rose of Texas and Deep in the Heart of Texas -- are woven in seamlessly.

Molly Glentzer, www.chron.com


released March 11, 2004

Pecos Bill

Music: Matthew Pierce
Choreography: Stanton Welch
Costume Design: Kristian Fredrikson

World Premiere at the Brown Theater
March 11, 2004 by the Houston Ballet
Stanton Welch, Artistic Director

Cello: Jameson DuPre Platte
Double Bass: Justin Lee
Trumpet: Erik Jekabson
Mixed by Bradford Reed


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Matthew Pierce East Northport, New York

Composer/Violinist Matthew Pierce is celebrated for his new classical scores commissioned by American ballet companies. Born in Brooklyn in 1968, Pierce grew up in Seattle, studied violin performance with Shirley Givens at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and moved to New York where he began writing music for the theater. Pierce has a special aptitude for dance. ... more

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