Sailors & Dreamers
for voice and piano (2007–2010)

See the "Voice and Instrumental Ensemble" listing for information on individual songs

27 min.

World Premiere [Ensemble Version]
William Ferguson, voice
Paul Hostetter, conductor

19 September 2011
Merkin Concert Hall
New York City

World Premiere [Voice and Piano Version]
Dennis Tobenski, voice
Marc Peloquin, piano

9 October 2015
In Time's Unfolding: The Poetry of Chester Biscardi
Presented by KeyedUp Music Project
Tenri Cultural Institute
New York City

Lyrics by Shirley Kaplan

A3 – D#5

Commissioned by The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress.

Dedicated to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky, and written for Sequitur.

Biscardi Music Press: No. B48-10-4
Distribution: Theodore Front Musical Literature, Inc.

In 2007 notes in a bottle are figuratively exchanged between Bogliasco and Majorca where the composer and the lyricist are living. Seven bells guide us: "Head Out". A reminder: "You've Been on My Mind". A request: "Play Me a Song", which is later recalled in "Slow Wings". A story in a bar from 1967: "Seven O'Clock at the Cedar: Ode to Klein/de Kooning", where fame is ordinary and women run after fragments. In "Do You Remember?" the dream flickers under a still moon. "I Dance the Tango" is a toast to life. Stars and galaxies fall against a background of shifting horizons in "Falling Fast". Ships without anchor move with the wind in "It's Time to Feel Alright Now". And, finally, we hold close to "The Edge" where stories, people, and times start to find their place. Sailors & Dreamers is a tribute to the tides and currents that carry us toward the new and the unexpected.

Sailors & Dreamers was commissioned by The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, dedicated to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky, and written for Sequitur. The cycle may be performed with either solo piano or with chamber ensemble.

The work is divided into the following sections:

Head Out; You've Been on My Mind
Play Me a Song
Seven O'Clock at the Cedar (Ode to Kline/de Kooning)
Do You Remember?
I Dance the Tango
Falling Fast; Slow Wings
It's Time to Feel Alright Now; The Edge

"Chester Biscardi's Sailors and Dreamers (2010) . . . based on richly descriptive, moody poetry by Shirley Kaplan . . . theatrical . . . the ensemble is attractively lush . . . its urbane surfaces seductive."
Allan Kozinn, "Fragmented Dreams and a Send-Up of Celebrity," The New York Times (2011)

Chester Biscardi is rapidly gaining stature as one of America's most capable and versatile composers, with a musical voice that if anything is growing more distinctive and compelling over time. Connoisseurs of vocal music will of course be most interested in what Biscardi has written for singers and might be inclined to view these works collectively as his finest artistic achievement. In fact, Biscardi has demonstrated consummate assurance and imagination in all of his compositions, including his many instrumental works. Sailors & Dreamers (like his opera Tight-Rope) is especially compelling because it combines his sensitive treatment of voice and text with his expert and imaginative skill at wielding instrumental colors, and one can only hope that there are going to be more such works in this future to showcase both aspects of Biscardi's considerable gifts.
Gregory Berg, "Chester Biscardi: Sailors & Dreamers", The Listener's Gallery, Journal of Singing, Vol. 68, Issue 5, Jacksonville, Florida, May/June 2012, pp. 611-612

The singer who chooses this work will need to have experience in non-classical singing styles, have a large enough voice to be heard without singing full volume all the time, and be a superb stylist with words. A classical vocal approach will not serve this music well. If the voice is not big enough to be heard easily, especially over the chamber version, a microphone might be a consideration. The difficulties of the vocal line are mostly rhythmic. The difficulties in the piano score include many accidentals and thick and widespread chords and clusters requiring a large reach.

The chamber ensemble version of this work is scored for Flute/Piccolo, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet in B♭, Percussion (Chimes, Marimba, Glockenspiel, Suspended Cymbals, and Vibraphone), Piano, Violin I and II, Viola, Violoncello, and Contra Bass. Since the piano in the ensemble score received for review is exactly the same as the piano/voice score, it appears that the instruments, which double various lines in the texture thinly and intermittently, are used primarily for color.
Judith Carman, "A Study in Contrasts," Music Reviews, Journal of Singing, Jacksonville, Florida, November/December 2011, pp. 231-233

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