Body Through Which the Dream Flows

ENS.2010.6 | 10′
Poem by Robert Hass
Soprano, Vibraphone


1. Body Through Which the Dream Flows

2. The Lovers Undressing

3. Sad

4. Migration

5. Dark

6. Things Change

7. Stories in Bed

8. Monday Morning, Late Summer

9. So

I first became aware of Robert Hass’s poetry through John Adams’s Violin Concerto, whose second movement bears the same title as this work. Although his piece is strictly instrumental and non-programmatic, he had been inspired by the poetry, which led me to seek out first this poem and then to explore Hass’s oeuvre more thoroughly. Nevertheless, it was “Cuttings” I returned to in the end, with its eponymous first section.

I have set “Cuttings” nearly in its entirety, omitting only the final section, as I felt “So” made a more natural conclusion. There is neither any overarching structural form nor complex processes underlying any of the songs; I have simply set the poem in a straightforward manner, each song taking its form from the text. As in earlier song cycles I sought to simplify my musical language, accompanying the vocal line with brief, unadorned melodic and harmonic phrases, allowing the singer to convey my interpretation of the narrative.

Originally composed in 2010-2011 for soprano and two cellos, I made this final, definitive version for soprano and vibraphone in 2014. Body Through Which the Dream Flows comprises nine brief songs and lasts about ten minutes.