"Texas Country Reporter" features SMU talent
The request was not unusual. Last year, when Duncanville High School
asked John Gibson to write an original music score for the band's
performance at Dallas' Meyerson Symphony Center, he added it to
his list of commissions.
Gibson serves by day as the Office of Development's director of
creative services, but he also enjoys a successful career as a composer,
writing three to four compositions a year for orchestras, bands,
theaters, and other musical groups nationwide.
The Duncanville High commission stands out from among Gibson's
40 years of composing because of the story he chose to tell
a musical narrative of the Trinity River and that it garnered
attention from the popular television show, "Texas Country
For 25 years, television personality Bob Phillips (B.F.A.'73, M.L.A.
'77) has traveled throughout the state interviewing ordinary Texans
with extraordinary stories on his weekly show. When SMU's Director
of Risk Management Floyd Phelps phoned "Texas Country Reporter"
about his co-worker's project, Phillips "jumped on the story
like a frog on a bug," Gibson says.
Beginning with a 12-mile canoe trip down the Trinity River, the
"Texas Country Reporter" production staff followed Gibson's
creative process to his home, where he composed the piece, to the
Duncanville High band hall for rehearsals, and finally to the debut
performance of "Trinity Passage" at the Meyerson in May.
After 10 months, four tapings, and 14 hours of video, Phillips told
the story of "a river, a Dallas composer, and a high school
band" to viewers across the nation on May 19 and 20.
Gibson conceived the idea for "Trinity Passage" years
ago. "The Trinity River represents what's local," he says.
"Its drainage shapes the land; it determined what Dallas became
as a transportation center; and it serves the two largest metropolitan
areas in the state the Metroplex and Houston. I wanted the
kids to have a piece of music that depicts something local and heightens
their interest in their surroundings, because someday they'll be
In writing the piece, Gibson says he confronted a bad reputation
that has followed the river for years. The Trinity is known for
being dirty, foul-smelling, and a dangerous hang-out for local rogues.
But on his eight-hour canoe trip, Gibson discovered the river's
"It's just a few miles from downtown, but the city disappears
when you're on the river. A blue heron led us all the way through
Trinity Forest," says Gibson, adding that it's largest urban
hardwood forest in the country. "It seems so remote, you feel
like you're in the middle of an isolated wilderness."
A score of 42 pages and more than 11 minutes, "Trinity Passage"
told Gibson's story of the river, and Bob Phillips shared it with
"I was pleased with the way the show turned out," Gibson
says. "To me, the least important aspect of the story was that
I was writing a piece of music the story was in the local
nature of the Trinity River and that the kids were doing a great
thing. The show portrayed those things."
To obtain a recorded version of "Trinity Passage," e-mail
John Gibson, director of creative services in the Office of Development,
composed "Trinity Passage" for the Duncanville High School
band. "Texas Country Reporter" television show aired the
story in May.