The Great Flood featuring Bill Frisell at ELLNORA

Article Contributed by madison | Published on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grammy Award-winning guitarist and composer Bill Frisell and experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison have collaborated to create The Great Flood, a 75-minute multimedia work of original music and film that will have its world premiere at ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival at Krannert Center in Urbana, Illinois, on September 10, 2011.

Inspired by the 1927 Mississippi River floods—the most destructive floods in American history—Morrison and Frisell have created a stirring, contemporary perspective on this natural disaster and the ensuing transformation of American society and music. In the spring of 1927, the Mississippi River broke out of its banks in 145 places and inundated 27,000 square miles to a depth of up to 30 feet. Part of its enduring legacy was the mass exodus of displaced sharecroppers. Musically, the Great Migration of rural southern blacks to Northern cities saw the Delta Blues electrified and reinterpreted as the Chicago blues, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. Frisell’s wide-ranging musical palette, heard in his more than 30 recordings, will draw on American roots music but, as always, will be refracted through his own highly personal musical vision.

ELLNORA’s artistic advisor, David Spelman, notes that “it’s exciting to have Bill Frisell return to the festival with a project commissioned by Krannert Center. We’ve presented several world premieres since launching the festival in 2005, including Phil Kline’s large sound installation World on a String and The Long Count, a multimedia work from The National’s Bryce and Aaron Dessner. Our programming philosophy stems from Krannert Center’s commitment to fostering the art of the future while celebrating the many rich cultural and aesthetic legacies of the past. The Great Flood is a project that perfectly reflects this philosophy.”

Other artists appearing at ELLNORA include Calexico, My Brightest Diamond, Richard Thompson, Daniel Lanois’ Black Dub, Sharon Isbin, Taj Mahal, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Adrian Belew, Robert Randolph, The Tony Rice Unit, Cindy Cashdollar, and many more.

More details on The Great Flood and ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival at Krannert Center (September 8-10, 2011) will be released on June 15, 2011. Please visit for information on previous festivals and for announcements about the 2011 lineup.

The Great Flood was commissioned by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (World Premiere); Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University; Carnegie Hall; Symphony Center Presents, Chicago and Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College.

The Great Flood was commissioned through Meet The Composer's Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by generous support from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.

Additional support made possible by USA Projects, an online initiative of United States Artists.