Inspired by the O'Shaughnessy poem, Ode ("We are the music maker and we are the dreamers of dreams"), The Dreamers of Dreams seeks to capture the essence of building something from the ground up, such as a percussion program. The rousing celebratory nature of the piece will take your breath away.
Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 12
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 9:30
Bells/Crotales + Low Drum
Xylophone/Chimes + Low Drum
Vibraphone 1 + Low Drum
Vibraphone 2 + Low Drum
Marimba 1 (4-octave) + Low Drum
Marimba 2 (4-octave) + Low Drum
Marimba 3 (4.3-octave) + Low Drum
Marimba 4 (5-octave) + Low Drum
Percussion 1 (4 Timpani, Sizzle Cymbal)
Percussion 2 (Bell Tree, Mark Tree, Bongos (2), Congas (2), Suspended & China Cymbal)
Percussion 3 (Snare Drum, 4 Concert Toms, Suspended & Ride Cymbal)
Percussion 4 (Concert Bass Drum, Tam-Tam, Log Drums (4), Temple Blocks)
Voices (ensemble members have vocal cues in their parts so they can sing)
The Dreamers of Dreams was commissioned by Rick Minnotte and the Mt. Lebanon Percussion Program in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the program. I first met Rick in April of 2008 when I caught wind that his ensemble was going to perform my piece “Limerick Daydreams.” I traveled up to Mt. Lebanon PA, rehearsed the ensemble, and we have been as thick as thieves since then. When we were talking about the possibility of this commission, Rick simply said he wanted something celebratory for 10-12 players between 7 & 8 minutes long. I am not typically one to jump into composing a piece until I have a firm grasp of the “theme” of the work – not in the musical sense, but rather some kind of extra-musical inspiration/influence.
In this case, the piece was inspired by a poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy simply titled “Ode.” The first line of the poem has even found its way into pop culture with a brief quote by the original Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder. I think the essence of the poem perfectly captures the idea of celebrating a percussion program such as Mt. Lebanon that has been built from the ground up – not just by one person, but by its administration, staff, parents, and students. Here are some quotes that I found to be the most compelling and appropriate.
ODE by Arthur O’Shaughnessy (excerpts)
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s greatest cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample a kingdom down.
A breath of our inspiration
Is the life of each generation;
A wondrous thing of our dreaming
Unearthly, impossible seeming–
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
And their work in the world be done.
But we, with our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing:
O men! it must ever be
That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
A little apart from ye.