What We Know About Planets
Chamber orchestra: fl,ob,cl perc hp strings
Premiere–Rochester Chamber Orchestra, David Fetler, cond.; Eastman Bach Children’s Chorus, Karla Krogstad, Director, Rochester, NY, May 16, 1999.
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Program NoteWhat We Know About Planets is a setting of Annie Dillard’s poem “An Epistemology of Planets,” from Tickets for a Prayer Wheel, her first book of poems, which was published in 1974 by HarperCollins. Originally conceived for 3-part treble chorus and piano, the work was orchestrated for three woodwinds, harp, percussion and strings in 1999, and in that form was given its premiere in Rochester, New York by the Eastman Bach Children’s Chorus (Karla Krogstad, Director) and the Rochester Chamber Orchestra conducted by David Fetler in May of that year. To create a more satisfying musical structure, with Ms. Dillard’s permission I adjusted the order somewhat, opening the work with a wordless hum, combining the outermost planets, and moving the “Earth” section to the end. In 2002, What We Know About Planets was awarded High Honors by the University of Oregon’s “Waging Peace Through Singing” initiative.
Annie Dillard was born in Pittsburgh in 1945. Educated at Hollins College, she received the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Among her many other honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. [While she is renowned as a writer of narrative non-fiction, Dillard has written a novel (The Living), several books of poems, a book of literary theory (Living by Fiction), a collection of essays (Teaching a Stone to Talk) and a memoir, An American Childhood.] She is Professor emeritus at Wesleyan University. Her work conveys at once a child’s admiration for the world and a keen, ageless spirit, puzzling on its mysteries. Her words have been set by many composers, including the late Sir Michael Tippett. More: anniedillard.com