This week I’m heading to Chicago to meet with composer Bernard Rands for a series of interviews and to attend rehearsals and performances of his new work, Dream, with the Chicago Symphony and Music Director Riccardo Muti. What a privilege it has been to spend time getting to know this score in advance of our conversations and actually hearing the music. I first met Bernard back in 2008 at the Nevada Encounters of New Music Festival at UNLV in Las Vegas and got to know him the following year during an intensive week of performances, seminars, and—if I can recall correctly…a few drinks—at June in Buffalo. We have kept in touch since then, and I have always been moved by his music, which speaks from the heart through the clearest technical means, and by his supportive friendship.
My visit is part of what I plan to be at least one article devoted to his new composition and related works for orchestra. In this case, the related works have in common a melody that Rands composed decades ago during a flight from London to Sydney. What interests me is the way this tune has found its way into three very different orchestral contexts in his compositions London Serenade and …body and shadow…, both from 1988, and now Dream. Through our conversations, I hope to glean some hints of how and why this particular tune has stuck through all these years, as well as broader aspects of his compositional approach and philosophy. From my initial study of the score, I can tell that the “dream” aspect of the work comes through in music that seems to move spontaneously from one idea or mood to the next, sometimes shadowy and mysterious, other times intense and rhythmic, but most often than not warm and with a slightly nostalgic underpinning. I’m very much looking forward to hearing the work over the coming days and enjoying the splendid musical scene of Chicago in fall.