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Terpsichore's Dream (2007)

A ballet for chamber orchestra

First performance by the Utah Symphony, Cliff Colnot conducting
Salt Lake City, Utah, 18 October 2007
Duration: 15 minutes & 30 seconds - or 14 minutes & 15 seconds.

For the shorter duration option, the composition ends with measure 371 thus, the final spacious, “dream” violin solo at the end is omitted.

To be performed with dancers when feasible.



CD Available
Terpsichore's Dream

This work is available on
Terpsichore's Dream.

Selected Works for Orchestra

This work is available on
Selected Works for Orchestra.


Terpsichore's Dream runs from 3:39-4:46


Terpsichore's Dream Part 1


Terpsichore's Dream Part 2

Program Notes

Conductor Cliff Colnot

Terpsichore's Dream, composed in 2007, and scored for a chamber orchestra consisting of 2 flute (2nd doubles piccolo), 1 oboe, 2 clarinet in Bb (2nd doubles bass clarinet in Bb), 1 bassoon, 2 horn, 2 trumpet, 1 trombone, 4 percussion, piano (doubling celesta), 2 harps and strings, is dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Cliff Colnot.

The work, of 17-minutes duration, was premiered on October 18, 2007 by the Utah Symphony, Cliff Colnot conducting.  I wish to thank the Utah Symphony, in particular, Clovis Lark and Elizabeth Cusato for their vision, effort and kindness in making this project possible.

In Greek mythology, Terpsichore ("delight of dancing") was one of the nine Muses, ruling over dance and the dramatic chorus. She lends her name to the word "terpsichorean" which means "of or relating to dance". She is usually depicted sitting down, holding a lyre, accompanying with her music to the dancers' choirs. She is sometimes said to be the mother of the Sirens by Achelous.  Her name comes from the Greek words  ("delight") and ("dance").

— Augusta Read Thomas
September 2007

Selected Reviews

Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 5 February 2014 Thomas: Aureole; Words of the Sea; In My Sky at Twilight; Terpsichore's Dream, etc — review

"Terpsichore's Dream for chamber orchestra from 2007 is a parade of glittering musical images that steadily gains energy; it would make a great work-out for any ensemble."


Edward Reichel, Deseret Morning News, 19 October 2007 UTAH SYMPHONY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Thursday
The first concert in the New Music@the Rose series this season was held Thursday and included a world premiere by Augusta Read Thomas.

"Thomas' Terpsichore's Dream was written specifically for this concert and for the evening's guest conductor, Cliff Colnot, who led the Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra in an exuberant and radiant reading of the score. The work is vividly orchestrated, and Thomas skillfully moves around the orchestra, creating bursts of color that move quickly and smoothly from one section to another."

"Terpsichore being the muse of dance in ancient Greek mythology, one would expect a score invoking her name to be rhythmic and vibrant, and Thomas certainly doesn't disappoint in that regard. The piece is captivatingly dancelike and fluid, with a driving energy that is barely contained."

"The orchestra under Colnot's expert direction played effortlessly, wonderfully capturing the intensity of the score, as well as its vitality and luminosity. One can say without hesitation that Terpsichore's Dream is one of Thomas' best works to date."


Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 October 2007 Invigorated series draws a younger crowd

"The marquee attraction was the world premiere of Terpsichore's Dream by Augusta Read Thomas, who was on hand to introduce the piece. Inspired by the Greek Muse of dance, Terpsichore's Dream is a smoothly flowing series of dancelike vignettes, by turns ethereal and propulsive...with a jazzy episode that strongly recalled Stravinsky's early ballet music. Associate concertmaster David Park brought the piece to a dreamy end, his violin notes floating down through a high, focused chord — the orchestral equivalent of a beam of light."


Celia R. Baker, Special to the Tribune, 13 October 2007 Dream pairing for composer, orchestra

Terpsichore's Dream will premiere Thursday in the intimate confines of Rose Wagner
"Composer Augusta Read Thomas is working right now on pieces commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and BBC Proms — lofty company for any musician. Just coming off a nine-year stint as Chicago Symphony Orchestra's composer-in-residence, she's one of the world's busiest living composers.

"Still, Thomas made time to create a work for the Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra and didn't charge a commission for doing it. Thomas gives three reasons for giving the Utah Symphony the world premiere of Terpsichore's Dream."

"Colnot attributes Thomas' success as a composer to her "incredible imagination and wonderful ear for color." As a passionate proponent of new art music, he has a ready explanation of why it's important for orchestras to perform music outside their time-tested canon of standard works written by "white, European males."

""It is my belief that if we are to be well-rounded, egalitarian and a part of the civilization and culture in which we live, it is necessary to sample the wide range of creativity manifested by contemporary composers — our colleagues, friends and heroes," Colnot said in an e-mail."


Houston Symphony

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