Recurring Dreams: Variations for Orchestra

Winner of the ASCAP Foundation 17th annual Rudolph Nissim Award (1997)

Winner of the Louisville Orchestra Composition Competition (1999)
Years ago, while living in a small Ann Arbor apartment, I began to experience a recurring dream. In the dream I have lived in the cramped conditions of a tiny flat for several years. One day I happen on a door which I have never seen before. Upon opening it, I discover to my wonderment and dismay that the greater portion of the apartment actually lies beyond its threshold. Further manifestations of the dream reveal even larger spaces beyond this newly-discovered area, and so on, and so on.

Musically, it seemed appropriate (and logical) to depict the repetitive, reinterpretive nature of these images by means of variation technique. I determined early on to represent these expanding dimensions on a multiplicity of levels including those of pitch, motive, gesture, and process. But combined with this, I also decided to gradually extend the real-time durations of the variations while simultaneously increasing their speed. The result is a series of ever-longer, ever-faster restatements (or recurrences) more suggestive of rapid eye movement than of undisturbed slumber.

Fittingly, the composition begins and ends with music of a more tranquil tone. The introduction (Canonic Berceuse) serves as the musical seedbed of the ensuing variations but also foreshadows the shape of the work as a whole. Its mood and tonality are suggestive of Chopin's Berceuse in Db major. In contrast to this crypticism, the conclusion features a lullaby in which the primary pitch sequence is most fully exposed. Here all calculation ceases as the piece drifts off to a somewhat ambiguous resolution. Recurring Dreams is dedicated to Leslie Bassett.


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