“At last, Fortissimo! (on seeing Niagara Falls)” – Gustav Mahler

Emily Masters

The RobertMoses hydroelectric project at Niagara Falls first went on line in 1961, makingit was the largest hydropower facility in the Western world. Up to375,000 U.S. gallons of water a second is diverted from the NiagaraRiver through conduits under the City of Niagara Falls to the Lewistonand RobertMoses power plants. Thepower of these Falls is spectacular. There are approximately 660,000 gallons ofwater in an Olympic size swimming pool. So, every second, Niagara is movingthree-quarters of an Olympic size pool to its power plants. That is a lot ofwater!

NewYork State Power Authority was so proud of its achievement, they commissionedcomposer Ferde Grofe to write a piece of music to commemorate the opening ofthe new Power Plant. Ferde Grofe (1892-1972) is most known for his arranging workfor the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and his integration of jazz sounds into thesymphonic orchestra, which provided the foundation for most of today’s filmscores. Some of Grofe’s most famous works include the Grand Canyon Suite, the MississippiSuite, and his 1942 orchestral arrangement of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. 

Grofepremiered his Niagara Falls Suite onFebruary 10, 1961 while he conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic in the firstperformance of the piece. The suite is comprised of four movements, beginningwith “Thunder of the Waves,” illustrating the power of the massive fallingwaters, while integrating Indian motifs into the intense first movement. Thesecond movement, “Devil’s Hole Massacre”, begins with a haunting recollectionof an Indian ambush on the New York side of the falls involving a British wagontrain on September 14, 1763. Only a few British escaped the massive chaos onthis somber day. “The Honeymooners”, the romantic third movement, remindslisteners of the popularity of Niagara Falls as a honeymoon destination. The Niagara Falls Suite is concluded withthe dramatic fourth movement, “Power of Niagara” where Grofe uses the sounds ofthe orchestra and massive percussion section, complete with horns and sirens,to represent Niagara’s massive hydro-electric plant. The fourth movementincludes a majestic middle section, followed by the sounds of the workersbusily producing electricity, and the resonance of a factory horn. The Niagara Falls Suite, crafted by a masterorchestrator, offers a vivid depiction of one of America’s most magnificentsights and is offered to you right here in Bedford. This is a concert you don’twant to miss!

Comeout and join the Bedford Community Orchestra on Saturday, May 7th,7:30pm at the Bedford Middle School Auditorium as they also presentStravinsky’s Rite of Spring, music from the Star Trek series, An UnendingLegacy and more!!!

SuggestedDonation $10/person. For more information contact the Bedford CommunityOrchestra at 540/947-0208 or visit us at www.BedfordCommOrch.org