CCO & The Wicker Park Choral Singers: Dreams of the Fallen

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CCO & The Wicker Park Choral Singers: Dreams of the Fallen

May 5, 2018 @ 7:30 pm

6:30 PM – Pre concert talk

Tickets available at the door.

Combining the musical forces of solo piano, chorus, and orchestra with powerful texts written by Iraq War veteran and award-winning poet Brian Turner, Jake Runestad’s Dreams of the Fallen explores a soldier’s emotional response to the experience of war. Iranian-American Sahba Aminikia’s Sound, Only Sound Remains weaves audio clips of womens’ voices from Iran with the chorus and orchestra, and Arvo Pärt’s Da pacem Domine is a prayer for peace.


in collaboration with the Wicker Park Choral Singers

Jake RunestadDreams of the Fallen

– poetry by Brian Turner
 – featuring pianist Yana Reznik

Originally commissioned by acclaimed pianist Jeffrey Biegel and a consortium of five orchestras from around the country, Dreams of the Fallen explores a soldier’s emotional response to the experience of war using powerful texts written by Iraq War veteran and award-winning poet Brian Turner.

Brian Turner served in the U.S. Army for seven years including the Iraq War in 2003, and the text for Dreams of the Fallen is a compilation of poems from two of his books, Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise. After being introduced to Turner’s poetry and interviewing veterans, Runestad was inspired to create a piece that, as he explains, is meant to “serve as a ceremony addressing the life-changing experiences of war.”

The piece is an acknowledgment of the deep scars that veterans often carry with them. However, it also hopes to challenge those who have not experienced the lasting impact of war to attempt to  understand the sacrifices that veterans have made.

Sahba AminikiaSound, Only Sound Remains, * orchestral world premiere

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, women are not allowed to sing publicly according to the Islamic code. The piece was produced following my announcement on Facebook inviting Iranian female singers to collaborate with me, Kronos Quartet and Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Numerous sound clips, mostly recorded on handheld devices, were sent to me which enabled me to immerse myself in a world, which as a man, I have never experienced. The opening text which translates to “Sound, only sound remains” in Farsi is by Forough Farrokhzad, arguably one of Iran’s most influential female poets of the twentieth century, a controversial modernist and an iconoclast who died tragically in a car accident at the age of 32. – Sahba Aminikia

Born in post-revolutionary wartime in Iran, Aminikia was raised during a newly configured democracy that evolved from mass-executions, war, and violence into a society that—through the use of internet and technology—challenges the current political and social infrastructure. A conscientious soul, he attempts at finding a common understanding for communication and dialogue through music. Influenced by the poetry of Hafiz, Rumi, and Saadi, as well as traditional, classical and jazz music and the albums of Pink Floyd, Beatles, and Queen, Aminikia cites music to be an immersive, transcendent, yet visceral human experience.

Arvo Pärt – Da Pacem Domine

Arvo Pärt wrote the prayer of peace Da pacem Domine to fulfill a commission from Jordi Savall, and began to set this ninth-century Gregorian antiphon two days after the Madrid bombings on 11 March 2004 as his personal tribute to the victims. Since then Da pacem Domine has been performed every year in Spain to commemorate the victims of this terrorist attack. The work’s slow, meditative atmosphere is characteristic of Part’s late style, employing his distinctive tintinnabuli compositional technique. Even while originally composing this four-voice piece, Pärt made allowances for variable scorings, and has reworked the piece for different combinations of voice and instrument. As a result, it exists in several versions, not only for voice but also entirely for instruments.  

Missy MazzoliThese Worlds In Us

Mazzoli wrote These Worlds In Us and dedicated it to her father, a soldier during the Vietnam War. She reflects that “it occurred to me that, as we grow older, we accumulate worlds of intense memory within us, and that grief is often not far from joy.” 

Mazzoli explores this duality between grief and joy in the music, striking the listener as simultaneously mournful, powerful, energetic, and hopeful. The title These Worlds In Us comes from James Tate’s poem The Lost Pilot, a meditation on his father’s death in World War II:

My head cocked towards the sky,
I cannot get off the ground,
and you, passing over again,

fast, perfect and unwilling
to tell me that you are doing
well, or that it was a mistake

that placed you in that world,
and me in this; or that misfortune
placed these worlds in us.

Veljo Tormis – God Protect Us from War 

A contemporary of Arvo Part, Tormis was a major figure in 20th century Estonian music. The majority of is oeuvre is choral music, as he strived to preserve the folk singing tradition of Estonia in his music, a tradition he felt increasingly endangered in his lifetime. During the soviet occupation of Estonia, Tormis’ music was often censored for it’s politically charged subject matter but became widely performed around the globe after the fall of the Soviet Union. God Protect Us From War demonstrates a fusion of Tormis’ folk influences and his desire to give political expressions a voice in his art. A rustic chanting reminiscent of Estonian folk singing dominates the choral texture throughout. The singing is accompanied by a lone tam-tam, which is brilliantly used to enhance the range of raw emotion evoked in this short piece.




May 5, 2018
7:30 pm


St. James Cathedral
65 E Huron St
Chicago, IL 60611 United States
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