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The Moon Dreams of Jacqueline

by Mark Winges

for string quartet and vocal quartet

In my personal mythology, the moon watches our earthly endeavors, and sometimes dreams our days into existence. I am sure that the moon was moved by the exquisite playing of cellist Jacqueline du Pré, whose  performing life was tragically cut short by multiple sclerosis. It’s possible that du Pré’s definitive version of the Elgar Cello Concerto still echoes in the moon’s dreams.


With this background in mind, I asked Denise Newman to create a text. I’ve also enjoyed Rafael Jesús González’s bilingual collection La musa lunática / The Lunatic Muse for many years, and one poem in particular (Sometimes the Full Moon) begged to be included in this dream. Denise’s and Rafael’s words bounce off each other in wonderful ways.


Musically, the ghost of Elgar’s concerto hovers over the piece. Fragments of its motives pop out of the texture at several points in the work. As is typical in dreams, things become obscured: words sometimes give way to sung phonemes (sounds with no literal meaning), or the Spanish and English versions of González’s poem are mixed. The music that opens and closes the piece is somewhat elegiac, surrounding a quicksilver middle section inspired by the couplet:

that what we have danced

not even death can take from us

A special thanks to the Friction Quartet, not only for their superlative performing skills, but for originating the idea for this project with its combination of four singers and four instrumentalists. It’s not something I would have thought of myself, and I enjoy the collaborative inspiration. To both the singers and the quartet: the moon thanks you for making a dream real, as do I.


12/04/16 @ The Women's Building - premiere

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