Press & Media

Three Hours in Dallas: Film Premiere with Live Musical Score

Logo for The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

DALLAS, TX – November 12, 2019: 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 a “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.


Tuesday, November 19

The Last Days of Lee Harvey Oswald: A Conversation with Ruth Paine

Marina Oswald and her young children were staying with her friend, Ruth Paine, in November 1963. Thrust overnight into the center of an international tragedy, Paine still ponders a different outcome if she’d known Lee Harvey Oswald had stashed a rifle in her garage. For the first time ever, she will present a program at the Museum, reflecting on her friendship with Marina Oswald and how it continues to impact her life.

Presented in partnership with the City of Irving/Ruth Paine House Museum.

6:00 p.m. wine reception

7:00 p.m. program


Wednesday, November 20

Toward a Psychological Understanding of Lee Oswald, Assassin

While many over the years have considered Oswald’s motive, clinical psychologist Dr. Gene Riddle took a different tack – analyzing how Oswald became a person capable of assassinating a president. Join us as he shares the results of his six-year study, examining the depth and breadth of Oswald’s psychological makeup and life experiences that led to November 22, 1963.

6:00 p.m. wine reception

7:00 p.m. program


Thursday, November 21

Three Hours in Dallas: World Premiere

Three Hours in Dallas is an original musical composition scored to accompany an all-new compilation of historic motorcade film footage. Written by award-winning composer Jesus Martinez and performed by music students from Arlington’s Sam Houston High School, this unique immersive experience celebrates President Kennedy’s legacy of love for the arts.

6:00 p.m. wine reception

7:00 p.m. program


Friday, November 22

56th Anniversary Program: Living History with Bill Mercer

Reporting live from police headquarters, KRLD broadcaster Bill Mercer was the first to inform Lee Harvey Oswald he had been charged with the murder of President Kennedy. A member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame and co-author of “When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963,” Mercer will interact with classrooms around the world and a live Museum audience. This Distance Learning Spotlight Session will be followed by a moment of silence.

11:30 a.m. program

12:30 p.m. moment of silence

For more information, visit


Contact Information

Nicola Longford
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Direct: 214.389.3001

About the Museum

Mission Statement: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history.

Vision Statement: To be an impartial, multi-generational destination and forum for exploring the memory and effects of the events surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy, through sharing his legacy and its impact on an ever-changing global society.

Located at 411 Elm Street in downtown Dallas, the Museum is open Monday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Audio guides for the permanent exhibit are included with admission and available in eight languages, including ASL. For more information, visit or call 214.747.6660.

Admission: $18 Adult, $16 Senior, $14 Youth (children aged 5 and under are free or $5 with audio/ASL).

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