Remarks made 7 December 2008 in Boone, NC before the premiere of A Child’s Garden of Dreams, Book 2, by the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra, James Allen Anderson, conductor.

I’m not going to say too much about the music here, but I do want to comment on how things go. The original Child’s Garden of Dreams piece was written in 1981. It became a piece well-known to the wind band world and has since that time had literally hundreds of performances here and around the world. This other piece, written for orchestra in 1989, is now having its premiere performance after nearly 20 years of trying to interest people.

Jim Anderson and I have been acquainted since the year 2000 when he was at the University of Montana. I wrote music for him then and then have subsequently written another piece, Symphony No. 6, which he performed and recorded here four years ago. So now he has taken on this new piece, something which spoke to him. When he first became aware of it, he had the deep feeling that this belonged to him, that he had to engage himself with it and to bring it into life.

And that’s how music goes. It deeply grabs and engages and I’m required, I’m compelled to do what I do. For better or worse, I’m compelled to do it.

I wanted to say just a bit about the nature of music in our world today. You have any music available to you at the touch of a button. Anything, anything at all. In fact, you have to work hard to escape music these days. And here we come together, together in this space, with ourselves, our community, to actually make musical sound. The difference is enormous. The musical sound produced by a community of living people, players and the audience together, is this remarkable transference of energy, this welling up of energy from some very deep source.

It seems a small thing in our world, when the big issues seem to be nation against nation, seem to be military power, seem to be the overwhelming presence of nuclear [and] biological weapons in our world. And the big news is economic crisis, that it’s all going to fall apart, that we’re all going to die.

And music like this, in the face of all that, seems impossibly small and weak. But it isn’t. It’s where the real living power of things lies. Not that power doesn’t lie in those other things too, but this is individual, personal welling-up of idea and of soul. And this is where the life of the world is and where the movement through our troubled times begins. It begins right here, with the power of imagination and of heart and is generated by these young people, and by the power of your imagination and heart which is stimulated by what they do.

I think that’s quite enough to say. I hope you will read through these dreams in the few minutes that you have until the music starts and begin your own process of imagining. Just take a look and imagine. Pick one and imagine it in your mind. Imagine what that is, and what it might feel like.

All right; enough to say. Thank you for your attention and here’s the new piece.

(Transcription by Matthew Maslanka)