The Ghosts of Alder Gulch was commissioned and premiered by the Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra, Helen Cha-Pyo, conductor
About the piece ...
In May 1863, gold was discovered near the Gravelly Range of Montana’s Rocky Mountains by Bill Fairwhether and a rag-tag band of prospectors. By summer’s end, tens of thousands of fortune seekers and parasites stretched seventeen miles up Alder Gulch and Virginia City was born. It didn’t last long -- gold rushes never do -- but of the tens of thousands who once inhabited the gulch, a few have lingered, fading shades now -- ghosts -- still felt, occasionally seen.
Wurdemann's Music Hall museum in nearby Nevada City has a superb collection of antique instruments, music boxes, “orchestrians,” and carousel organs of all shapes and sizes. Although they are powered now by electricity, sometimes it seems that phantom hands are on the valves and keys, and if you listen closely, ethereal voices sing along. The Ghosts of Alder Gulch is a symphonic evocation of those machines and the spirits who are still making music through them.