On Thursday, November 21, on the eve of the 56th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza will premiere “Three Hours in Dallas,” an original musical score set to a new compilation of historic motorcade film footage. Written by award-winning composer, Jesus Martinez, “Three Hours in Dallas” will be performed by the percussion ensemble from Arlington’s Sam Houston High School.

This unique film score links sound effects and synchronized sound to specific scenes that will captivate the audience and create the sensation of personally witnessing the events of November 22, 1963. As President Kennedy himself said, “We must never forget…that art is not a form of propaganda…it is a form of truth.”

Through innovative community-based projects and collaborations, The Sixth Floor Museum brings its vast collections of historic films, photographs, oral histories and artifacts to new generations for learning and discovery. The Museum’s collaboration with thirty-two year-old composer and music educator, Jesus Martinez, has helped link the creative process of music composition and performance with valuable history lessons about local and world events beyond the walls of the traditional classroom—offering new insights for young students to capture their imaginations and connect the past with the present.

This unique evening performance will also include the premiere of “Stars in the Heart,” by Michael Varner, Director of Percussion at the University of Texas at Arlington, and “Metallic Origami” by Robert J. Frank, Associate Professor of Composition and Theory and Director of Electronic Music at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

The featured compositions and performers represent several generations removed from the events of November 1963.

Three Hours in Dallas notes by composer Jesus Martinez
Three Hours in Dallas was commissioned by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The film is a 16-minute compilation of both familiar and seldom-seen footage and photographs taken during the presidential motorcade on November 22, 1963. President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy spent exactly three hours and nine minutes in Dallas. The music for the film brings life to this silent compilation with key moments of historical audio exploring President Kennedy’s multigenerational initiatives. The live film score is written for percussion ensemble and solo trumpet. It is intended as a fully immersive sound experience as it takes you through the final three hours of President Kennedy’s life.

Stars in the Heart, notes by composer Dr. Michael Varner
Stars in the Heart is a composition constructed by translating specific letters into numbers using an “indeterminate system” suggested by my friend Nathan Daughtrey in a conversation. The resultant numbers are 5-6-9-2-4. The piece evolves using these numbers in every conceivable way as rhythm, scale pattern, and overall phrasing. Each player has a Temple Gong, Frying Pan, Resonant Wooden Slat, and Drum. The Temple Gongs, Frying Pans, Wooden Slats, and Congas should be graduated with Player 1 having the highest and Player 5 the lowest. Player 1 requires a 5-octave marimba as well as the unique Nigerian Talking drum.

Metallic Origami, notes by composer Dr. Robert Frank
Metallic Origami is a set of five short movements written for (mostly) metal instruments. Inspired by the ancient art of paper folding – origami – and the composer’s imagining of folded metal creations, each movement expresses in “folded sound” a representation of different origami shapes composed of different metals. Each movement is also based loosely on the poetic form of haiku, which have three terse, intense phrases in the pattern of five – seven – five syllables. As the work was being written, the composer wrote haiku to accompany each movement. Like the music in each movement, each verse seeks to see these familiar childhood paper-creations through the character of each of the chosen metals: bright stars of gold; a moving crane of silver, with folding wings and bending neck; the four-pointed “fortuneteller” formed from sheets of hardened steel; many-facetted snowflakes of brittle titanium; and a ferocious dragon cast in iron.

About Jesus Martinez
With a master’s degree in Music Composition from Southern Methodist University and a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from University of Texas at Arlington, Jesus Martinez has served as Composer-in-Residence for both the Alabama Orchestra Association and the Irving Symphony Orchestra. While at SMU, he studied primarily with composer Dr. Robert Frank and developed a special interest in film scoring and new music ensembles.

Martinez was commissioned to score the film “Mystery of Birds,” which premiered in Houston in 2011 and was selected to screen at the Los Angeles Black Film Festival. In 2012, the film won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Film by an African Living Abroad. Also in 2011, Martinez presented his 34-minute world premiere of “Threnody for 9/11 for Mixed Chamber Ensemble,” which received accolades in Texas print and broadcast media and a resolution in his name issued by the Texas State Legislature. Martinez scored the 2013 film “Take the Spotlight,” which premiered at four film festivals in Texas, Arkansas and Georgia, winning awards for best film and best director.
Most recently, Martinez composed “The Sixth Floor,” which premiered at the 30th anniversary of The Sixth Floor Museum on February 18, 2019.

The special concert will be held on Thursday, November 21, at 7:00 p.m. A pre-concert reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, and are available for advance purchase at

This program is part of a special four-part series in commemoration of the 56th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death.