O, For Such a Dream


O, For Such a Dream


for soprano solo, mixed chorus and piano (1990 / 2006)

  • Premiere: 21 June 2007 / Louisville, KY / Festive Voices / Roger Lamb
  • Instrumentation: Solo S.SATB.pft
  • Duration: 4'
  • Text: Letter of Ann Smith to her husband David, August 16, 1864 

Program Note

During the summer of 1990 in Sweet Briar, Virginia, while in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts — as the United States began moving armed forces into the Gulf to execute "Operation Desert Storm" — I set words from a letter of 16 August 1864 from Ann Smith to her husband David that underlined the human toll the prosecution of war takes. The resulting song was part of a cycle for soprano, flute, and piano entitled Dear Youth.

Sixteen years later, Robin Bourguignon, the soprano who premiered Dear Youth, asked me to choose one of the songs to reinterpret for mixed chorus. Because plus ça change...plus c'est la même chose I was compelled to say yes. I chose "O for Such a Dream," the text for which I originally drew from Who Only Stand and Wait: Civil War Letters of David and Ann Smith, 1863-1865.