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Dream Catcher (2022)

For solo cello

First performance in 21 August 2022 by Anssi Karttunen at the Creative Dialogue France Workshop.
Duration: 6 minutes

Program Note

Native American tradition attaches special meaning to dreams. One tradition was to hang a 'dream catcher' that would move freely in the night air. The hand-crafted object consists of a web within a ring, with feathers extended from the perimeter of the ring. According to tradition, good dreams know their destination: they slip through the hole in the center of the web and glide gently down the feather into the subconscious of the dreamer. Bad dreams become entangled in the web and dissipate with the light of the dawn.

Although highly notated, precise, carefully structured, soundly proportioned, and while musicians are elegantly working from a nuanced, specific text, I like my music to have the feeling that it is organically being self-propelled - on the spot. As if we listeners are overhearing a captured improvisation.

My music, which is organic and, at every level, concerned with transformations and connections, should be played so that the inner life of the different rhythmic, timbral and pitch syntaxes are made explicit and are then organically allied to one another with characterized phrasing of rhythm, color, harmony, counterpoint, tempo, keeping it alive — continuously sounding spontaneous.

All of this, hopefully, working toward the fundamental goal: to compose a work in which every musical parameter is allied in one holistic gestalt.

Dream Catcher for solo cello is dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Anssi Karttunen and is In Memoriam Oliver Knussen.

— Augusta Read Thomas


Anssi Karttunen. Photo credit Irmeli Jung


To obtain examination or performance material for this
Augusta Read Thomas work, please contact Nimbus Music Publishing.