Almost a century ago Lawrence of Arabia (T.E. Lawrence) wrote autobiographically in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom: “All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” From ambiguous start to surprising finish, Dreamers of the Day sets out to fragment and distort the listener’s experience and changing perceptions of sound and of the passage of time – at times pulsing and pacy, at others hazy and elusive like a half-remembered dream – and features old and new arrangements of iconic pieces of Classical/Baroque music, classic but radical miniatures by three 20th-century “dreamers of the day” – Igor Stravinsky, Olivier Messiaen, and Steve Reich – and culminates in a part-minimalist, part-improvisatory soundtrack of four pianos plus electronic and real percussion, a talking clock, and a twilight heroine on a kaleidoscopic dreamtime ride.
This journey encompasses our everyday cycle of light and darkness while the shifting musical processes of composers as disparate as Reich, Handel, Stravinsky, and Chance share a common sense of the human heartbeat and what it means to wait and wait until something happens – the thing you’ve been waiting for. The centrepiece is the final unfinished Contrapunctus from J.S. Bach’s monumental Art of Fugue, which in Artistic Director Antony Pitts’s mini-poperetta Anna’s Rapid Eye Movement is unfolded in the dusky zone of half-dreaming, half-waking between the alarm clock’s first drrring and its second serve after tapping the snooze button – where it can seem like no time at all or long enough for a series of preposterous adventures that pit the fluidity of psychological time against the primordial relentlessness of the clock and Time itself. As Stravinsky, composer of works such as the riot-inducing The Rite of Spring and his peasant wedding ballet for four pianos and percussion, Les Noces, says in his autobiography: “...the phenomenon of music is nothing other than a phenomenon of speculation... The elements at which this speculation necessarily aims are those of sound and time... consequently music is a chronologic art... All music is nothing more than a succession of impulses that converge toward a definite point of repose.”