Instrumentation: Amplified piano trio & electronics
Commission: Atar Trio
The Atar Trio
Kibbutz Maabarot, Israel
When the Atar Trio approached me to commission a piece for piano trio and electronics for their ‘Dream Within a Dream’ program, Kafka’s Metamorphosis
(Die Verwandlung) immediately leaped to mind. Gregor wakes from anxious dreams to find himself transformed into a huge (terrible) insect. For the purposes of this piece, I interpreted it to suggest a type of beetle, of which there are more than 400,000 species, approximately one-quarter of all plants and animals! I am most grateful to bioacousticans Martin Brandstetter (Austrian Institute for Forest Protection) for sharing his recordings of Asian Longhorn beetles (Anoplophora glabripennis), and Jayne Yack and Amanda Lindeman (Carleton University, CA) for sharing their recordings of mountain pine beetles (D. ponderosae, Ips pini and D. valens), which became the basis for the electronics. To prepare for this project, I reread The Metamorphosis in Susan Bernofsky’s vivid translation, as well as R. Crumb’s fascinating Kafka, with terrific illustrations by David Zane Marowitz. The mood of the anxious dream, and the ominous world into which Gregor wakes, suffused my musical imaginings. Fear of the ‘other’ permeates the tale. This poignant story is an important reminder that the ‘other’ is part of our own family, a crucial reminder in our tribalistic times.
The Atar Trio toured Gregor’s Dream in America and Israel, and it has also been performed at the Aspen Music Festival, the International Computer Music Festival in Daegu, the IAWM program in Dublin and numerous other venues. –JS
“Gregor’s Dream is a witty musical thriller that brings great reactions from the audience! As a performer, I love Shatin’s way of telling a story from the first note to the last in a dramatic and convincing way. The Atar Trio has performed it many times since we first commissioned it for our international tour and it now holds a major place in our repertoire.” – Ofer Shelley