Dream Catcher

Score title

Dream Catcher


Augusta Read Thomas

More about the composer



Program note

Dream Catcher, dedicated "with admiration and gratitude to Maria Schleuning," received its world premiere May 3, 2009 in Dallas, Texas by Voices of Change and has a duration of 10 minutes.

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.

Ms. Thomas's title resonates strongly for Ms. Schleuning. "When I was growing up, my father volunteered at an Indian Reservation in Oregon," she explains. "I went with him a couple of times, and knew about dream catchers. The piece feels like it is bringing me home. She's done a good job: it is like a dream, fragmented."

Thomas adds, "My primary focus was to celebrate Maria's sublime talents and musicality throughout. I think of this piece as open, happy, optimistic, and sunny. You can smell the perfumes of my musical "grandparents": Stravinsky, Ravel, Debussy, Mahler, Berg, Berio, Brahms, American jazz, and so on but Dream Catcher is a totally personal piece in my own language. It is not 'stolen Debussy' or 'paraphrased Stravinsky.' It is all my own invention. I never repeat anything exactly. The motives are always transforming; everything is an outgrowth of something else."

"Dream Catcher is fun to play," adds Schleuning. "It is certainly challenging because of all the wide leaps, which make it an athletic piece. Also, capturing different musical characters, the rapid color changes, playing the same pitch on a different string — they all add to the difficulty. I think it's an excellent recital piece. It keeps you engaged because of its variety. There's so much going on!"

— Laurie Shulman, © 2008