for violin, cello & piano
Dream Forms is comprised of three episodes and was initially inspired by different types of dreams, including: precognitive (clairvoyant), lucid and epic. I have experienced all of these dream types. The initial inspiration for Dream Forms fused with my sorrow and became an expression of grief.
EPISODE I: CLAIRVOYANT
Clairvoyant is inspired by a precognitive dream, or a dream that is predictive of the future. I had vivid and intense dreams about the future soon after the death of my father. The amazing thing is that the dreams were musical. I dreamt about a musical phrase that was predictive of all future possibilities in a piece. The opening phrase of Clairvoyant is the source of all the thematic unfolding and development in the work. It is a ‘sonic vision’ of future musical landscapes. The theme itself is made up of characters, like a play, and each character has a distinctive personality that contributes to the development of the episode.
Clairvoyant is dedicated to my beloved and cherished friend Marc Peloquin.
EPISODE II: LUCID (A BRONX STORY)
Lucid is inspired by lucid dreaming. This is a type of dream where you realize you are dreaming and then willfully control it. Lucid is a memorial and tribute to my former student Kalief Browder. Kalief was wrongfully imprisoned at Riker’s Island when he was 16. He was held for three years, two of which were in solitary confinement, before being released. He endured far too much in his tragically short life.
This episode is the most programmatic of the trio. The music begins in the ideal and sacred realm of innocence and represents the divine state. This theme also represents Kalief before the troubles of the world claimed him. Kalief is the one having the lucid dream. He will try to direct his dream (this episode of the trio) back to this divine theme, but the music is interrupted by tragic elements that undermine the innocence of the beginning. The sacred state is continuously transformed until it is ultimately consumed.
EPISODE III: EPIC (AFTERMATH)
Epic is inspired by epic dreaming -- a profound or memorable dream that sometimes continues over many dreams and many nights. It is compelling and very vivid. Epic dreams are also known as great, cosmic or numinous dreams. They feel lucid and are inspirational.
The music begins with a reference to Lucid. It is a continuation of that episode and is firmly planted in the tragic realm. The primary theme of Epic immediately follows and is derived from the Lucid episode. It is heard throughout Epic and undergoes many transformations. The transformations are influenced by additional references to Clairvoyant and Lucid, particularly the theme of the sacred and divine (found in all three episodes).
Epic is my way of coping with loss. It is an expression of grief for all the friends and loved ones I have recently lost. They are: Lewis Burke, Thomas Colonna, Steven Stucky, Judith Kellock and Kalief Browder. The angry and tragic beginning of this episode represents real and visceral pain. The music here is a continuation of Lucid and is a treatment of the anger I felt for what Kalief had to endure. The emotional energy is channeled and transformed as the episode progresses. The various references to Clairvoyant and Lucid represent the realm of thought – memories. The memories are sacred and cherished.
Epic was commissioned by Dr. Elizabeth Colonna and is dedicated to the loving memory of Dr. Thomas Colonna.
The work was composed for the di.vi.sion piano trio.
The total duration of Dream Forms is approximately 38 minutes.
David Del Tredici -- about the music
I was stunned by the accumulated energy of it all. Paradoxically, this implacably-driven music projects – and achingly so – a human, tender dimension. So he has it all! We are not talking here about ‘old wine in new bottles’ but rather a fragrant, fresh vintage proffered us in tonal containments – transformed by Burkian alchemy.
This encomium, then, is by way of saying that Steven Burke is without question one of the major compositional voices of his generation. The intensity, the virtuosity, the absolute conviction by which he creates, stamps him now and forever a master.
— David Del Tredici