Mass Transmission


In 1937, Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean, opening an unsolved mystery that has ignited endless investigation by professionals and amateurs alike. A fascinating unconfirmed pieces of evidence surrounding Earhart’s disappearance is Betty’s Notebook. Discovered in 2000 by Ric Gillespie, the notebook of Betty Klenck allegedly records the fractured, panicked calls for help transmitted by Earhart in her last moments and received by Betty as she scrolled through channels on her family's shortwave radio. On February 8th, 9th, and 10th, Verdigris takes to the airwaves with a concert that explores the electronic soundscape of long-distance radio transmission with a world premier of a setting of Betty’s Notebook as the program’s centerpiece.

The concert features two compositions that use fixed electronics and the human voice to bring to life the invisible world of radio frequencies and the human connections they enable. We will perform the world premier of a commission by Texas native Nicholas Reeves, an ambitious work for choir and fixed electronics around text from Betty’s Notebook and interviews of Betty Klenck. Reeves uses recordings of Earhart’s transmissions and Betty’s voice to create an immersive soundscape that reanimates the fear and wonder of that long-distance, one-way connection. The second piece on the program, Mason BatesMass Transmission was originally commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and uses organ, choir, and fixed electronics to bring to life correspondence between a mother and daughter over one of the first long-distance radios.

Acutely relevant as technological advances make human connection simultaneously easier and emptier, this concert offers audiences an immersive listening experience that explores the earliest days of long-distance human communication. Featuring music of two of the most widely commissioned living American composers, the program will transport listeners into two vignettes of early radio connection and the uncertainty and wonder found within.

On February 8th at 7pm, Ric Gillespie, an authority on Earhart’s disappearance and executive director of The Institute for Historic Aircraft Recovery, will visit Dallas along with composer Nicholas Reeves to discuss Betty’s Notebook and Reeves’ musical setting in an exclusive event at a private residence on White Rock Lake. This event will include dinner prepared and served by two-time Hell’s Kitchen chef, Roe DiLeo.

Verdigris will perform this program again on February 9th at 7pm at Royal Lane Baptist Church and on February 10th at 7:30pm, at The Texas Theatre. Ticket prices range from $10 to $125, with discounts for seniors, students, and teachers. Tickets for the private event and to the two concerts are available now.

Erinn Sensenig