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A Dream within a dream

Composed in 2010

For unaccompanied SATB Choir (or soprano and string quartet)

Duration: 4:30

Text: Edgar Allan Poe (public domain)

I have had a fascination with the work of Edgar Allan Poe for many years. When I wrote my first choral work I chose to set his poem, “A Dream Within A Dream.” This beautiful meditation on the transience of physical life questions the nature of reality, and asks, “Is all that we see or seem/But a dream within a dream?” Originally scored for unaccompanied SATB choir, I have also arranged this piece for soprano and string quartet.


Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?



First Performance: April 14th, 2011, New Music New Haven

Trinity Lutheran Church, New Haven, CT

Yale Camerata; Christoph Schlechter, conductor



Video Recording: April 17th, 2016

The Majestic Theatre, Dallas, TX

Alissa Roca, soprano; members of SYZYGY, New Music at SMU


Related Works:

Masque of the Red Death

Songs and Dances

What Beckons

What Color Is the Dawn?

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