I Dream’d in a Dream

TTBB choir, violin, and piano
SATB choir, violin, and piano
[text: Walt Whitman]


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Recording: Kathleen Flynn and Carlos Conde, soloists; Minghuan Xu, violin; Winston Choi, piano; Ricardo Gallo, conductor; New York City Music for Peace Project Chorus (SATB) (recorded live at Judson Memorial Church, April 2, 2006)

Click here to see sample pages of I Dream’d in a Dream (SATB).

Duration: ca. 6’30”
Composed: 2001

When Miguel Felipe, the artistic director of the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus was planning a celebration of the group’s tenth anniversary in 2001, he selected Whitman’s “I Dream’d in a Dream”, along with other poems by John F. Kennedy, Ernest Henley, and Dawna Markova to be part of Into the Infinite Air, a seven-part, seven-composer orotorio. The commission came in the summer of 2001; the work premiered in mid-June 2002. Intervening, of course, were the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and Lindquist comments on “how remarkable Miguel’s choice of text had been, and how important a part of my own healing process setting Whitman’s text would become.” Indeed, the work is inscribed In Memoriam September 11, 2001.

In her setting, Lindquist focuses on the poem’s call for peace. She opens and closes the work with the chanting of words for peace from six languages, some spoken in and around Afghanistan, and others in nearby countries. (One needs to recall that the invasion of Afghanistan took place in October 2001.) The work in some ways is a dialogue between the violin and vocal forces. Soloists are key here, with choral interjections––some pitched, some spoken––which act almost as musical refrains. The long violin meditation separating “it was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city” and “And in all their looks and words” describes in a way that transcends language the great vision towards which Whitman so deeply hoped the “materialistic and vulgar” America of his day—and ours?—would strive.

The words used in the spoken texture of I Dream’d in a Dream (using a phonetic approximation) are: Sulh (Farsi, spoken in Iran, Afghanistan); Salaam (Arabic, spoken in Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and many other nations); Shanti (Hindi, and many other Indian language groups); Shalom (Hebrew, spoken in Israel); Amniat (Pashto, spoken in Afghanistan and Pakistan); Aman (Urdu, spoken in Pakistan). These are not exhaustive country lists; many of these languages, of course, cross political borders.

—Program notes by Watson Bosler

I Dream’d in a Dream was commissioned by the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus, Miguel Felipe, Artistic Director, in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Chorus. It was premiered June 15th and 16th, 2002, at the State Street Church in Portland, Maine. The commission was made possible through the generous assistance of Timothy Bates, Brian Quint, and Joel Thayer.

I Dream’d in a Dream

(from Leaves of Grass, published 1855)

I Dream’d in a dream I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth,
I dream’d that was the new city of Friends,
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love, it led the rest,
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,
And in all their looks and words.

—Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

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