Icarus Dreamt (2008) - For Orchestra
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Awarded the 2011 ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize
Awarded the 2010 Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival and School
Awarded the William Schuman Prize in the 2008 BMI Student Composer Awards
Selected for the American Composers Orchestra 2009 Underwood New Music Reading Sessions
Awarded honorable mention in the 2008 Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute
The initial inspiration of Icarus Dreamt came from the kinetic sculpture of Arthur Ganson and the artwork of Henri Matisse. Arthur Ganson’s sculpture, Machine with 23 Scraps of Paper, consists of a machine, which through the use of electricity and various levers and gears, animates twenty-three scraps of paper into flying paper birds. The flapping scraps of paper serve as puppets of the larger churning machine, and I could not help but imagine the sculpture as representative of a modern-day Pinocchio story, the paper breaking free of their puppet master, coming to life and flying away into the sky.
Hanging above my desk is a poster of Henri Matisse’s collage Icarus (from his Jazz portfolio, 1947). The intensely lyrical gestures of the painting, combined with allusions to the Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus, merged in my mind with the gracefully fluttering images of the paper birds and soft clicking sounds of the machines from Ganson’s sculpture to serve as the basis of my own work, Icarus Dreamt.
In the Greek myth, Daedalus, father of Icarus, constructed wings made of feather and wax to escape imprisonment by King Minos of Crete. As they escaped, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun, as the wax fastening the wings to his back would melt. Despite his father’s warning, Icarus flew too close to the sun, causing his wings to melt and for him to fall to the sea below.
The musical work follows the narrative trajectory of the Greek myth but imagines it as Icarus’ dream before taking his fateful flight. The piece depicts his initial journey towards the sun, a foreshadowing of his own doom, and then a radiantly joyous flight to the sky and beyond. Icarus yearned for the unattainable, but he, like Ganson’s paper birds, never ceased to dream.