The Old Kaiser Burnout:
over near Honey Island, Texas, in the fall of 1863 (2011)
Composed for the Sam Houston State University Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dr. David Cole. Premiered April 2012.
Program Notes for "The Old Kaiser Burnout"
The inspiration for this work is an incident that occurred in the fall of 1963, when Captain James Kaiser set fire to a canebrake in the Big Thicket of East Texas, to flush out recalcitrant backwoods Texas who refused to fight in the Civil War.
This is not a literal tone poem about that event. Rather, this piece explores the problems of loving one's native area while feeling dissident there. The work begins and ends on waterways. The opening movement evokes a sunrise on a swampy baygall
(specifically the Jack Gore Baygall up in my native neck of the Big Thicket). The dawning day is both beautiful and uncertain.
The second movement describes the tension and terror of hiding out in the tangled depths of the the Big Thicket. Eventually, the individual is triumphant - I believe.
The final movement takes us to another East Texas waterway, the Neches River. Like those waterways, my life seemed to flow out of the backwoods and take me to newer places. While living in Beaumont, as an undergraduate, I sat one night on a bank of the Neches River, apart from my friends, and watched a train blast over the trestle bridge. But after the noise there was only the eerie, gentle ostinato of metal on metal, and creaking wood. For some reason, I found this very moving and oddly spiritual. - BPH