Song of a Dream

SSATB, unaccompanied

A lyrical, rich setting of a beautiful, idealistic poem by Sarojini Naidu, an important figure in India in the early 20th century.
“And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang,
And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed,
And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.”
Score below.


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Composed in honor of the 2011-12 Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee’s visit to the Rotary District 5080 Conference, June 8-10, 2012, Tri-Cities, WA, this was the culminating project of my Composer-In-Residence year with the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers.

PROGRAM NOTES

Sarojini Naidu (13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949), also known as The Nightingale of India, was a child prodigy, Indian independence activist and poet. Naidu was the second Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the Governor of Uttar Pradesh state. Her birthday is celebrated as Women’s Day in India.

This poem, full of a young poet’s idealism, led me to a romantic, flowing line, and rich, colorful chords. The opening figure returns in various ways, as do the words the spirits of Truth, Peace, and Love.

NOTES ON PREPARATION AND PERFORMANCE

Tempo is very flexible, always moving forward or pulling back.

Tuning seems to be easier if S1 and S2 are separated on the stage by another part, and it appears that S1 and B next to each other helps. Balancing chords with roots strongest, 5ths next, thirds less, and all color notes less than that helps the chords really ring as well. In bars 24-29, S2’s B and C natural pitches tune best when you keep them on the high side rather than the low side.

In the second verse, make sure that the passing back and forth of the words comes out–long notes back out a touch and moving lines step forward.

TEXT

Once in the dream of a night I stood
Lone in the light of a magical wood,
Soul-deep in visions that poppy-like sprang;
And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang,
And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed,
And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

Lone in the light of that magical grove,
I felt the stars of the spirits of Love
Gather and gleam round my delicate youth,
And I heard the song of the spirits of Truth;
To quench my longing I bent me low
By the streams of the spirits of Peace that flow
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

Sarojini Naidu
from “The Golden Threshhold,”
pub. John Lane Company, 1916

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