Sacred Dreams

Concert Band (Level: Advanced)

Sacred Dreams is about a set of fever dreams I had while trying to sleep off a particularly nasty cold. I had three incredibly vivid and interconnected dreams in one night--the kind that stick with you and chill you to the bone. At the time I was re-reading Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy (my favorite bit of literature). In my feverish half-sleep St. Peter became my own version of Virgil, guiding me through a metaphysical cosmos both beautiful and terrifying.

The music is in three movements, in the order I had the dreams:

I. The Keeper of the Keys

II. Winged Angels/Dark Angels

III. The Veil of Shadows

The Keeper of the Keys is about St. Peter, who holds the keys to the gates of Heaven. I dreamt that I had reached the top of Mount Purgatory and that St. Peter opened the gates of heaven. After an initial burst of light I saw the heavens in a way similar to how Dante described them: concentric circles surrounding God, rings of angels and ascended souls orbiting around Him singing joyfully.

The second movement, Winged Angels/Dark Angels, is about the angels themselves. I was inspired by Gustav Holst's Mercury, the Winged Messenger in this movement--I wanted to capture the quick movements and sense of mischievousness I had. But I also saw Dark Angels, abandoning grace and falling from the heavens. The music reflects this--the tonality slowly drifts apart until the main theme returns in a completely atonal setting.

The Veil of Shadows is about the lands of death and darkness. I saw strange and terrifying caricatures of people and angelic beings with scraping claws and gnashing teeth, grabbing at my ankles as I passed by. The ending softens the terror just a little--just before I woke up St. Peter said to me, "there is always hope, even for these--none are beyond redemption."

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