Dreams of Sky and Sea

soprano, percussion, piano
(2012) 18′



included on Across Oceans by Aperio: Music of the AmericasPurchase

Dreams of Sky and Sea

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Tracey Satterfield, soprano; Mike Zuraw, piano; Craig Hauschildt, percussion

No. 3: “Red Tide”

No. 4: “Though the sun is sinking at the mountain crest”

Tracy Satterfield, soprano; Craig Hauschildt, percussion; Michael Zuraw, piano

I was introduced to the poetry of Kim Sowol (1902-1934) somewhat by accident. While reading a collection of sijo (short Korean poems) I came across his work, which immediately resonated ;with me, both poetically and musically. As it turns out, Kim is one of Korea’s best-known poets; while I was traveling in Korea, a poet told me he is “like Bach” for Koreans, completely essential. I selected the poems based not only on their beauty and lyricism, but also because of their shared themes. In these verses, Kim focuses on the Earth’s most powerful geographical features: mountains and oceans. Reflecting upon the world’s dual nature, he portrays them both as icons of beauty and as impossible barriers. And as with many Korean poems, Kim’s words are always infused with a sense of longing and sadness, even in moments of joy.

Kim’s deep love of music comes through in each poem (beautifully translated by David McCann) and, while I have a great interest in Korean traditional music, I consciously avoided basing this work too strongly on Korean music. I did base some structural elements on aspects of Korean music, such as the use of a jangdan (a rhythmic pattern) in Korean traditional music.The third song of this set, “Though the Sun is Sinking at the Mountain Crest,” has the pianist introduce my own jangdan in the opening that permeates the whole song. And the final song, “Thought of Home,” makes a slight reference to pansori, a style of vocal folk music in which a solo singer is accompanied by a drummer. These songs, though, are not meant to be viewed through the lens of Korean traditional music. Instead, they are my own reactions to the texts, and should be taken for what they are: an outsider’s reflection on poems that explore universal themes.

These songs are dedicated to Tracy Satterfield and Aperio: Music of the Americas, the group for whom they were written.

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