Why a Marathon? – Part 3: Big Sur and NYC

When the marathon bug first grabbed me I knew I wanted to run the NYC marathon first. New York is our favorite city in the world and Central Park is where we got engaged. I could not imagine a more enjoyable locale and a triumphant run. The run ends in Central Park not far from where relatives live who surely would come out for some cheering. I started entering the lottery four years ago and was rejected every single time. “Buying” your way in by raising $3K for charity seemed an eventual possibility. I wasn’t ready to ask friends and family for contributions so I patiently waited to see about the regular lottery. After three steady rejections I began to look elsewhere. I did not know if I only had one marathon in me so I wanted something truly special. I wanted an epic run that seemed worth every bit of resource required.

Three years ago we camped throughout California for three weeks. We spent time in Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, and the area near Hearst Castle. We enjoyed this area and spent lots of time driving up and down the coast to explore state beaches, high vistas, old forests, and the like. Steinbeck, a favorite author, writes about this part of California in many stories. He has described Point Lobos State Park as the most glorious meeting of land and sea. I agree. The Pacific, breaking surf, light, fog, hills, cliffs, and wildlife make it some of the most spectacular coastline in all of America. The idea of the Big Sur Marathon captured my fantasy soon after that trip. I could not imagine a more scenic run. Some investigation confirmed the overall wonder of this particular event. Not only do you run 26.2 miles of this coastline while it is closed to cars, but they put a pianist on Bixby Bridge just for selfies. The route also happens to have 13 hills and around 2000′ of total climbing. Add that to variable conditions, like the good chance of a strong headwind for part of the run, and this run classifies as one of the more challenging marathons. While it is not a good course for a fast time, I imagine it to be the most epic run I’ll ever have embarked upon.

Marathons have become so popular that even the Big Sur Marathon has a lottery. The odds are much better than the NYC Marathon and I got in first time. The timing is a bit tricky, right at the end of the spring semester. But, it is a Sunday race and I had hopes of visiting this area to film the ocean for a multimedia piece under construction. I could get in my film work and run a marathon in a long weekend without missing any teaching. What could be better!

So here I go – my first marathon – The Big Sur Marathon! Because it is a one-way race that starts at the remote Big Sur Station, they have everyone load onto buses at 4AM in Monterey. Presumably we arrive by 5AM and then wait nearly two hours in the cold pre-dawn. I’ll buy some sweats at a second hand shop and shed them into clothing donation bins right before the race. I’m currently playing with what nutrition will best serve me on the run. I’m pretty nervous about that. Unexpected bathroom needs or hitting the “wall” can make for an unpleasant experience. But I’ve given up any goal for a strong time. Common wisdom suggests that the only goal for a first marathon is to finish and to finish without excessive displeasure.

My desire to run the NYC Marathon did not abate when the Big Sur Marathon sent me the confirmation. I figured I should keep entering the lottery and sooner or later my ticket would come in or I’d ask everyone I know to chip in $25 towards cancer research and buy my way in through charity.  Then life took a big turn and I applied for a job leading Young Concert Artists in NYC. That position became a reality when the board unanimously voted for my hire at the end of February. A few days later I received the good news that I was accepted into the NYC Marathon through the lottery. Now I get to run the marathon as a brand new New Yorker. How cool! And, I can treat Big Sur as a warm up and see what kind of time I can pull off in NY. This is presuming that my first marathon experience leaves me high and wanting more. After my successful 20-mile run a few days ago I think I’ll be able to survive 26.2 miles without crawling or “bonking”.

Not too long ago I came across a humorous short video poking fun of how people preparing for a marathon have to tell everyone all about it. Naturally, there is no worldly significance to an individual deciding to run 26.2 miles with a few thousand other people. It is a self-imposed goal with an ironic modern tie to an ancient morbid story. But I am quite happy to tell people about my marathon goals. It feels big, really big. And, running a marathon is much better than any number of other common mid-life crises at age 43. Only a few more days to go till I make a 26.2 mile journey at 6:45AM from Big Sur Station to Monterey along the extraordinary Route 1…

 

Why a Marathon? – Part 2

My return to running came as a direct result of a ridiculous bet that included male bravado, beer, Joyce’s Ulysses, and a group trek to Steamboat. After a few weeks of running every other day the initial pain and discomfort subsided and the “drug” of outdoor exercise took over. This all happened in the first year after my mother’s premature death at the age of 69. Like many other adults, I was completely blindsided by the loss of a parent. Nothing prepared for the sorrow, anger, and rudderless existence that marked the period immediately following Mom’s death. Running became a subtle but reliable balm. Time outdoors, an elevated heart rate, favorite music playlists, and the runner’s high made me happy. The activity helped regulate emotions and offered a healthy salve for darker days. And it was a simple activity requiring little beyond physical effort.

Running soon brought about all of the other positive effects that regular exercisers love to tout. Better sleep, more overall energy, slimmer pants, and greater mental clarity were all benefits. A day that started with a good but ambitious run left me feeling great for hours. The discipline of running also brought other disciplines into greater focus. Soon my creative efforts were fed by the same energy and positive benefits that got me hooked on running. I investigated a range of books that explored the connection between exercise and mental focus, exercise and the formation of good habits while losing bad habits, exercise and emotional health, and exercise and aging. As has been famously articulated, whoever captures the positive effects of regular exercise in the form of a pill will make an instant fortune.

Haruki Murukami’s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running solidified the connection between my own running and a larger life desire to grow as a composer and live better. He found running early in life when he needed to give up managing a bar and embrace the daily discipline that helped launch a major writing career. Soon running was the most natural extension of his creativity in a symbiotic relationship. His running shoes might take the same importance as a typewriter or computer. He simply could not succeed as a writer without regular running.

My runs steadily became longer and invited journeys further from home. Eventually I explored the variety of trails in our area and found magical moments passing through high prairie grass with expansive views of purple and white mountains at first light. I’d carefully craft playlists and got to spend time with an eclectic array of composers including Meredith Monk, Vaughan Williams, Judd Greenstein, Thomas Tallis, and others. A two-hour run through farmland and rolling hills became an absolute highlight of my week. It also required careful planning and structure. Two hours of running in the Colorado summer required start times around 6AM. This fed a growing commitment to sleep, early rising, and early composing. I finally became a morning composer and contemplated how I could fine-tune my life for better creativity and productivity. My university work required increasing attention and this newfound discipline became essential to remaining active as a composer.

Running often promotes my best thinking. Problems get turned over and over in my mind and solutions emerge or a clear passion for an idea grows. I don’t come home with new wonderful tunes but I return with a belief that I will soon find the great material I have been dreaming about. Running has also become a destination activity. I travel everywhere with my running gear and love finding great trails throughout the world. Fifteen mile runs in Central Park, 10 mile runs over the Golden Gate Bridge, 12 mile runs along the coast in Barcelona, and barefoot runs in the waves along the Pacific have created some of my best experiences of new places.

Murukami quickly grew into running marathons. For many runners the long run provides the meditative and lasting high that proves most satisfying. Long and slow. Everything else from life fades away and the rhythm of the body and the steadily accruing miles simplify everything. Murukami found great pleasure in running marathons. It was a sizeable but manageable challenge and it gave his running peaks and direction. Since marathon goals are all self imposed and have no importance to the larger world, they act as a way to shape the effort of running as an interior and evolving action. Running now has a larger purpose and one engages in the planning with bigger vision and zeal.

When a new runner begins investigating the world of marathons, you quickly learn how satisfying an accomplishment it is for almost all finishers. This crowning achievement sits large for the people who do it. It is a whole package. The preparation often represents years of running and months of focused efforts. One reads, buys special gear, follows training plans, talks about it to whoever will listen, and allows the weight of the event to build to mammoth proportions in one’s mind. The event often involves thousands of people and makes for a singularly spectacular running experience. I’ve completed shorter runs, like the Bolder Boulder with 50,000 participants, or the New Haven Half Marathon, that left me elated for days.

After five years into this new chapter of running I am poised to run my first marathon. It feels like a natural outgrowth of recent activity and a healthy way to continue to funnel energy towards good living. I’ve taken the steps towards a marathon quite slowly. My mileage has built with great patience over five years and I’ve transitioned to minimal shoes and have gradually increased the strength of my knees, bones, and muscles.

 

Why a Marathon? – Part 1

In a handful of days I will run my first marathon – The Big Sur Marathon. This rather epic run marks my multi-year journey back to running and a renewed interest in how the rhythms of daily life feed my creative work. This journey brings me to a particularly grateful state where I am more fit and thin than at age 18. Only a few days ago I completed my final long run in preparation for the marathon. The Boulder County trail system offered 20 glorious miles filled with sweeping mountain views, rolling prairie hills, and a meandering creek lined with cottonwood trees. I also slogged up one of the large hills on highway 36 between Denver and Boulder and finished just under three hours, which puts me on track to finish my first marathon under four hours.

I feel ready even though I am still playing around with nutrition and hydration options and still deciding which pairs of shoes will make the journey. I’ve kept up a steady running schedule and racked up 167 miles during the month of March. Early ambitions of a rigid training agenda evaporated because life has taken an unexpected turn over the last five months. Our family suddenly finds ourselves wrapping up a 14-year stint in Colorado and relocating to NYC so I can lead Young Concert Artists in the heart of Manhattan. Plans for careful sets of speed workouts, hills, tempo runs, and strength training never got off the ground. All I could muster was a steady accumulation of miles over five weekly runs and one long run every Saturday. Yet, I am far ahead of the average first-time marathoner and believe I will mostly enjoy this experience.

High school included a brief two-season running career on the cross-country team. I had modest potential and could clock consistent 6:15-minute miles for a 5K as a freshman. Nothing spectacular – but a nice starting point. Running was good and it was a special pleasure to be outside in the Connecticut fall weather everyday after school. Ongoing hip pain and an increasing commitment to music ended this activity by junior year. Thus began a twenty-year running drought.

About five years ago I suffered an unexpected return to running when I lost a bet to a friend. I had been decidedly intellectual in my life’s pursuits and was not a regular exerciser. When out with a few friends for a beer one night, our dyslexic friend Will announced he had made a list of six masterpieces he hoped to read in the next year. If reading required a painful and slow effort, he only wanted to spend time with revered tomes from the canon. His list included James Joyce’s Ulysses. I chuckled cruelly upon this announcement because I knew very few people who had ever read and understood Ulysses. They all had PhDs in literature from schools like Yale or Stanford. Ulysses contains some 30,000 separate words spanning a few languages and plays with time and tangents in confounding fashion. Most should never attempt to read Ulysses. Certainly a severe dyslexic could not wade through the impossible morass of Ulysses and my worst un-PC self said so.

My rather elitist diatribe sparked another friend to challenge us to a bet. If Will could read Ulysses in three months, I would have to sign up with the group for the Steamboat olympic distance triathlon scheduled in 10 months. In a moment of weakness that played upon all clichéd male insecurities and group pressure, I consented. I went out for a jog the next day and slowly became a regular runner. Early six-mile runs left me wrecked and my knees and ankles ached. Slowly things felt better and new shoes and running shorts supported the transformation.

It’s hard to say if I won or lost the bet. Will combined listening to an audiobook and reading to complete the book. He did read everything he listened to but it seems the parameters of the bet were not clearly established. Either way, I assumed I would be participating in the triathlon and began to run immediately following the ridiculous bet. The overall training for the triathlon was spotty and I resisted my least favorite event – the bike leg. I completed the race in just over three hours and counted it as a damn hard experience. Yet, there was a great sense of accomplishment and I had returned to running. Following the triathlon I dropped the swimming and biking.

 

Marion Fellowship #3: What Did I Accomplish at Chautauqua?

The Marion Fellowship requires that the journey of creating the project begin at Chautauqua. They ask that you identify a themed week that ties into your subject. I chose to straddle two sessions as it fit into other travel plans – The Arts and Global Understanding & The Forgotten: History and Memory in the 21st Century. Both happen to fit my subject well. I’m creating a multimedia theatrical piece that reflects on the dark episodes of Chinese communist history that my wife’s family lived through before leaving China to make a new life in the United States. I will unpack that in a future blog post.

I approached my time at Chautauqua as a space to listen, learn, reflect, and create. I took in a healthy amount of the cultural events and made sure to attend the events most relevant to my project. Outside of events I spent a lot of time thinking and drafting ideas. While the larger structure of my piece is established, the nuts and bolts of each movement is largely undetermined. The subjects are complex and do not present an obvious path towards artistic expression. For example, one movement is a reflection on The Great Famine. This three year famine killed anywhere between 15 and 45 million people. It was caused by a complex set of factors and contained a variety of horrific experiences. How exactly to I create a 10-minute movement for live instruments, dancer, and film? What can I express with these elements to capture some aspect of the pain that defines the famine?

This is but one example of many questions I have related to my piece about Mao’s China. How do I capture some essence of these tragic and often epic episodes in recent Chinese history in a relatively short breath of artistic expression? I specifically did not require any answers to these questions while at Chautauqua. I simply sat with the questions and created space to ask more questions. This week, which flew by, fulfilled a simple need to have space to contemplate a myriad of questions, ideas, intuitions, and other sparks of creative energy driven by this project. I believe I used the time well with the full intentions of the Marion Fellowship. Many who embark upon the fellowship are forging new paths in their own creative journey. In my case, I am tackling a darkly complex subject with three mediums that are new to me (electronic music, film, and dance). Space to sit was an incredible blessing.

Marion Fellowship #2: The Eden of Chautauqua

The Chautauqua Institute speaks to my nostalgia for family and summer. This magical bit of land on a hill overlooking Lake Chautauqua in the western most part of upstate New York captures a sense of relaxed intimate community that seems otherwise entirely lost in most of America. The essence of Chautauqua is steeped with traditions that facilitate learning, faith, art, and community. Thousands of visitors return every summer and many groups represent three or more generations. Some of the homes have remained in the same families longer than 100 years and I’ve met people in their 90s who began coming here soon after birth. Generational memory is strong. Parents want to create the same magical summers for their children and many houses are filled with three generations or more.

Chautauqua is designed to foster human interaction. Cars are largely forbidden so everyone walks. The narrow streets and small walkways are lined with close houses that feature front porches and balconies. Porch sitting is an important activity which perfectly suits the moderate climate. This compressed community is filled with people who adopt a pervasive leisurely pace. It is easy to strike up a conversation with anyone you meet as one’s presence confirms a commitment to the shared values of beauty and learning.

This gated community hosts some 900,000 visitors every summer with an impressive list of guest artists, performers, authors, scholars, teachers, and politicians. The daily schedule fills with talks, readings, performances, plays, operas, classes, and meditations. There are as many as 30 events everyday open to anyone on the grounds. An expensive gate pass includes access to most events – save theatrical performances and galas. Some 300 special studies courses are offered for modest fees. Music, dance, theatre, and art schools are available for professionally oriented high school and college students. Top tier faculty match the profiles of other prestigious summer festivals. Many religious sects and denominations maintain their own centers, which foster education, discussion, and reflection. The grounds include multiple performance spaces, theaters, lecture facilities, art galleries, recreation centers, learning centers, and a handful of restaurants and shops (and a small movie house). Boys and girls day camps host hundreds of children weekly. Chautauqua is a self-enclosed and self-sustained island utopia that lasts nine-weeks.

The 5000 seat auditorium begins most days with a major lecture. Yo Yo Ma and Sara J Bloomfield (director of the DC Holocaust Museum) were among the speakers during my time. Authors, philosophers, politicians, religious teachers, and activists offer afternoon talks in the outdoor Hall of Philosophy. The authors who wrote The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father and Just Mercy were talks I attended. The daily evening performances presented in the auditorium included two presentations by the Silk Road Ensemble (one with Yo Yo Ma), a performance by Nashville Ballet, and three orchestral performances (one by the student orchestra and the other two by the professional Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra). I also attended the opening of the play Into the Breeches and a production of the opera As One. My brief six days were filled with three to four daily cultural events. The gate pass makes it all available on a first come first serve basis.

Without any known contacts at Chautauqua, I assumed I would spend six days quietly attending and observing… a lone anonymous visitor. I intentionally arrived just in time for the afternoon performance of the brilliant opera As One (about the experience of a transgendered person). Right away I ran into Mark Campbell, good friend and co-librettist for As One. He invited me to the cast party where I met multiple people connected with the opera program and Chautauqua. I quickly had invitations to more events and dinners. The next day I went for lunch at the schools’ cafeteria and sat with a group of the art faculty. Soon I was traveling with them for tours, concerts, and meals. We talked about things like synethesia, teaching for artists, artistic influences, and of course politics. It is easy to meet people and everyone I talked with had a passion for one or more aspects of the culturally rich life of Chautauqua.

The grounds offer a special beauty. Everything feels compressed with smaller walkways and roads that are lined with well designed and maintained gardens and sitting areas. The houses are often pretty summer cottages with adorned features and colorful paint schemes in a Victorian style. Public art is common. Many of the larger buildings offer a grand and traditional beauty. Lake views are ever present. If you are staying on the grounds (as most do), then you leave a concert or talk and walk a few blocks to have lunch on your front porch. You do not fight the crowds to the parking lot and wait for thirty minutes before the drive home. Instead you get to savor the event without rush or stress. One afternoon I attended the funny and wonderful new play Into the Breeches at the intimate playhouse and then walked to the Nashville Ballet performance in the auditorium. The elegant choreography of Appalachian Spring, complete with live orchestra, still lingers in my mind. Following the performance, I bought ice cream, and walked the grounds for an hour enjoying a perfect summer evening.

It is common for people to fail in their descriptions of Chautauqua. A short run through of the various events or how lovely it is to walk the grounds does not capture the totality of this special place. Every description will miss something lovely. Ultimately Chautauqua feels like a place committed to renewing the mind in a wholistic approach. Books and learning are celebrated. The performing arts are abundant and central. Aesthetic beauty, small and large, surround everything. Community, conversation, food and drink, summer sports, and rest fill in the gaps. This all happens against the backdrop of summer thunderstorms, sunsets, and comfortable evenings. Wherever you go you can discuss the morning lecture, the ballet performance the night before, or what you’ve heard about the play that just opened. I’m eager to find a way back to Chautauqua!

Marion Fellowship #1 – What is the Marion Fellowship

Note: My ability to write and post blogs in “real time” falters. This post was largely written just after my arrival in Chautauqua in early August, 2019. Rather than abandon the post, I will post as I am able.

I arrived at the Chautauqua Institute in New York a few days ago for the official beginning of my 18 months of the Marion International Fellowship for the Visual and Performing Arts. This fellowship is among the most unusual and exciting artistic grants I have ever heard of. It offers $18,000 to support a special project. $5,000 may support the artist directly and $13,000 supports the project and travel to the partner institutions during the creation of project. The Marion International Fellowship partners include the Chautauqua Institute, SUNY Fredonia, the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, the Alley Theatre Company in Houston, and the Alberta School of Art and Design. The Marions, a couple from Texas, generously support all of these arts organizations. They created the fellowship to tie their interests into one special fellowship that supports a big vision project. Artists connected to one of the partner organizations are invited to apply, which I did in March 2018. I was named a finalist while traveling in Spain this past April and conducted a midnight phone interview from a small condo in Costa Brava before being named the 2018-2019 fellow.

I applied for the Fellowship with a project called Mao’s China, which I will describe in a later blog post. This is a passion project which I have contemplated for seven years. This 75-minute multimedia piece will include live classical performers, dance, film, and electronic music. It is designed for a space with large projection, dance, modest theatrical lighting, and a good set-up for electronic and acoustic music (including a piano). This project is unlike anything I have created before and represents a push into two new-to-me creative paths – electronic music and film. Ideas about structure and content have been percolating for years. A couple of times I attempted to set aside the months required to create the piece but other excellent projects crept in and caused delays.

2018 is a sabbatical year and I already hoped to spend several months working on Mao’s China. The Marion Fellowship has solidified plans. It provides funding, visibility, and a clear performance target date. My proposal culminates with a fall 2019 premiere and I am now in discussion with SUNY Fredonia for a full or partial performance on their campus around October 2019. SUNY Fredonia has a robust school for the visual and performing arts. They are one of the partner organizations for the Marion Fellowship and administer the details of the fellowship.

As I’ve met people at Chautauqua I’ve quickly realized there is no easy or neat way to explain my presence at Chautauqua. The best I can offer is that I am here to listen, watch, observe, and think. My time straddles two themed weeks which are both connected to my project – The Arts and Global Understanding & The Forgotten: History and Memory in the 21st Century. My project has to deal with the terrible times my in laws lived through in China that made them leave China and make a new life in the United States. Each week, lectures, artistic performances, and guest artists/speakers are scheduled around these themes. One morning might include a talk by the director of the Holocaust Museum in DC while the afternoon features a discussion about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr in continued racial difficulty in the US (author Bryan Stevenson – Just Mercy).

My time here involves moving from event to event in a process of invigorating adult learning and artistic consumption. In between formal activities I’m often finding a quiet spot to sit and write, read, brainstorm, or otherwise foster the rich and patient process of allowing my project to percolate. This allows a luxurious and important time for conceptualization and planning. My 75-minute piece is substantially different than anything I have done before and it is connected to a complex and lesser known period of recent Chinese history. There are a lot of decisions to make and questions to answer. My week here is the perfect way to begin the formal process of finally making this piece happen. This week is a formal beginning – a firing of the starting gun.

Cicero’s Dream

The Greater Boulder Youth Orchestra will premiere my piece Cicero’s Dream on their November 5, 2019 6:00PM concert in Macky Auditorium in Boulder. Midori is coming to town for a several day residency hosted by the Boulder Philharmonic and the Greater Boulder Youth Orchestra. Once or twice a year Midori donates her time, talents, and fame to support a regional orchestra and partner youth orchestra for a whirlwind residency. They pack in lots of activity with the young performers, outreach events, masterclasses, donor events, and the like. The Boulder Philharmonic and the Greater Boulder Youth Orchestra teemed up to commission a piece to celebrate the event. I’ve listed my program note below which explains the title and inspiration.

It is important to compose music for young ensembles. Young players get a steady diet of Baroque music and gradually get introduced to the classical and romantic repertoire. Rarely will they perform Stravinsky or anything later. Their range of performances and activities should include premieres by a living composers. The special challenge of taking notes never heard before and bringing them to life is special. There is an ownership of the music by the first performers. The untested score requires close listening as they sort out how their parts fit in to the whole piece. Young musicians should know that music is still being written and our art form is in the present tense! Seeing a living composer attend a rehearsal also brings a new perspective on Beethoven or Tchaikovsky or Bach. They too made changes, altered tempos, deleted notes, added dynamics, and asked the performers for their thoughts on the music. Composers are regular people and masterpieces don’t just fall out of the sky.

Attending rehearsals with the GBYO has been a pleasure. The three orchestras are all talented and have tackled my piece with commitment and heart. I offer my thanks to these fabulous young performers! My daughter, Kaela, has joined the GBYO and will play my piece for the premiere, which brings special joy. She has picked though the violin part just like all of the other kids and I’ve heard every isolated measure of the 2nd violin part over and over in our home. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty during the static passages which feature the lyric and still absent solo violin part. At other times I have moments of indulgent pride when I think “hey, that tune’s not bad”. And she’s gotten to see me at work – in my element. She watches me take in a passage and quickly give feedback to the orchestra to help them realize the music with greater passion. She gets an up close seat as I work with Maestro Lewis to sort out phrasing and tempos, and as I pace nervously during rehearsal.

It is lovely to have Kaela and all these wonderful young players participate in this premiere. Best wishes to you all!

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Cicero’s Dream program note:

Music of the Spheres is the harmonious embodiment of the celestial orbit and dance of the sun, moon, and planets. The imagined orbital resonance generated from ratios of mathematical sound creates a heavenly music representing divine beauty and order.  The cosmos capture a mysterious distance of otherness that has enraptured human expression for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks first imagined a heavenly symphony as they discovered the overtone series and how stringed instruments embodied complex tuning systems and shimmering harmonics. They connected this discovery woven into the fabric of physical sound to an elegant higher order bound up with the makeup of the universe.

Cicero, a first century BC Roman politician, wrote about a dream where a general ascends above the heavens to witness the glorious resting place of the immortal soul. This lofty perch provides a grand view of “those eternal fires which you call constellations and stars, and which, being globular and round, are animated with divine spirit, and complete their cycles and revolutions with amazing rapidity.” The dream includes a colorful depiction of the Music of the Spheres: “What is this sound so strong and sweet that fills my ears?” “This,” he replied, “is the melody which, at intervals unequal, yet differing in exact proportions, is made by the impulse and motion of the spheres themselves.”

The violin solo embodies the spirit of Cicero as he moves through the heavens in a dreamlike state. The piece builds and yearns to move higher towards the grand vision described in the dream. A hymn-like melody sweeps through the orchestra at the climax of the piece as Cicero takes in the full majesty of the heavens. Four section leaders accompany with shorter solos interspersed throughout the piece. Cicero’s Dream was written for youth orchestra and allows for participation of players of all levels.

Cicero’s Dream was commissioned by the Boulder Philharmonic, the Greater Boulder Youth Orchestra, and Colorado high schools to celebrate the 2018 Midori Residency in Boulder, Colorado.