A music series in the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern

Throughout 2022, Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) will be hosting Underground Sounds, a series of musical performances that highlight the remarkable natural acoustics of the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Underground Sounds is organized in collaboration with several Houston-based music organizations.

Nameless Sound with special guest Joe McPhee – February 10-13
ROCO – May 7
Two Star Symphony – September 8-11
Loop 38 – October 27-30

The Cistern has become one of Houston’s most iconic sites. Both an industrial relic and a unique art space, the Cistern inspires awe in its visitors. This cavernous former drinking water reservoir, built in 1926, is known for several exceptional visual features including 87,500 square feet with 221 concrete columns, and a reflective surface of water throughout its floor that creates an optical illusion of seemingly infinite space. BBP has capitalized on these features with three successful temporary art installations over the past few years. However, the natural acoustic aspects of the space have not yet been fully revealed to the public through artistic programming.

Throughout this year, several music organizations will create site specific performances in the Cistern. The space’s 17-second reverberation will play the role of collaborator alongside composers and musicians. Underground Sounds will offer a whole new sensory experience for Houstonians to enjoy.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.

Upcoming Performances

Underground Sounds: Two Star Symphony

September 8-11

These performances are sold out. For any additional guests wishing to attend, we will be taking a first-come-first-served waiting list beginning exactly 30 minutes prior to each performance time.

Two Star Symphony’s distinctive sound is inspired by their influences, which range from Dr. Dre to Danny Elfman to Tom Waits. More band than a classical ensemble, every member of Two Star is also a composer. Their unique process involves songs written and arranged collaboratively, with each player responsible for their own part. By the time the songs are finished, the music is memorized. Two Star does not create sheet music, so the players are free to focus on listening rather than reading. This allows them to play in the dark, which is advantageous for theater, dance, and now the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern.

Performance times:

  • September 8 at 7:30pm (Sold out)
  • September 9 at 7:30pm (Sold out)
  • September 10 at 4pm (Sold out)
  • September 10 at 5:30pm (Sold out)
  • September 11 at 4pm (Sold out)
  • September 11 at 5:30pm (Sold out)


  • Margaret Lejeune Cello
  • Debra Brown Violin
  • Brigette Yawn Viola
  • Chris Bakos Bass
  • Cathy Power Percussion/multi-instrumentalist
  • Kirk Suddreath Percussion/multi-instrumentalist
  • John Duboise Clarinet/Sax

Underground Sounds: Loop 38

October 27-30

These performances are sold out. For any additional guests wishing to attend, we will be taking a first-come-first-served waiting list beginning exactly 30 minutes prior to each performance time.

The fourth and final event this year features Loop38, a boundary-pushing, artist-driven new music ensemble.

Loop38 aims to build community around innovative, stimulating, and culturally relevant musical experiences. For this performance, the ensemble is working with composer Annea Lockwood to perform her piece bayou-borne, for Pauline. Based on the intricate bayou system surrounding Houston, the piece will come to life in the reverberant Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. The performance will offer the opportunity for audience and performer alike to explore our collective relationship with the natural geography of our city. The piece’s dedication to Pauline Oliveros, a prolific composer and Houston native, highlights our city’s vibrant contribution to the wider artistic community.

Tickets: $20/person (ages 9+)

Performance times:

  • Thursday, October 27 – 7:30pm
  • Friday, October 28 – 7:30pm
  • Saturday, October 29 – 4pm and 5:30pm
  • Sunday, October 30 – 4pm and 5:30pm

Past Performances

Underground Sounds: Joe McPhee with the Nameless Sound Ensembles

February 10-13, 2022

The first event in the series was organized in partnership with Nameless Sound and included four unique concerts featuring multi-instrumentalist/improviser/composer and creative music icon, Joe McPhee. Each event featured McPhee playing a horn instrument in a different quartet with three Houston collaborators and displayed both the wide range of sonic expression in Houston’s creative music community and the range in McPhee’s own practice. The performances featured a solo from each player, followed by an ensemble section.

Joe McPhee has a long relationship with Houston, having played with Nameless Sound on numerous occasions. Known as a direct and emotionally expressive performer, he is most associated with the radical movements of jazz in the 1960’s and beyond. McPhee’s collaborators in this series comprise a wide range of sonic voices including many of Houston’s most vital experimental improvisers.

Thursday, February 10 at 7:30pm

Joe McPhee (Poughkeepsie, NY) – saxophones, trumpet

Ryan Edwards (Houston) – guitar

Jason Jackson (Houston) – saxophones

Regan Mckee (Houston) – violin


Friday, February 11 at 7:30pm

Joe McPhee (Poughkeepsie, NY) – saxophones, trumpet

David Dove (Houston) – trombone

Laura Dykes (Houston) – double bass

Ivette Roman-Roberto (Houston) – voice


Saturday, February 12 at 3pm

Joe McPhee (Poughkeepsie, NY) – saxophones, trumpet

Anthony Almendárez (Houston) – trumpet 

Sonia Flores (Houston) – double bass, voice

Gabriel Martinez (Houston) – drums, percussion


Sunday, February 13 at 3pm

Joe McPhee (Poughkeepsie, NY) – saxophones, trumpet

Tom Carter (Houston) – guitar

John Alan Kennedy (Houston) – drums, percussion

Jawwaad Taylor (Jackson, MS) – trumpet

Underground Sounds: ROCO (Interwoven)

May 7, 2022

George Chase on the Flugelhorn / Photography by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox

Underground Sounds returned with performances by ROCO, an innovative music ensemble known for customizing and modernizing classical music. For this engagement, ROCO commissioned Houston-based Marcus Maroney to create Interwoven, a site-specific composition that plays upon the rare acoustics of the historic venue.

This is a ROCO commissioned World Premiere.


George Chase, Flugelhorn

Gavin Reed, French Horn

Thomas Hulten, Trombone

Jared Lantzy, Bass Trombone