Gregors Dream

Judith Shatin
Commissioned by the Atar Trio / Jan. 2016
Premiere: The Ralli Museum, Caesarea, Mar. 2016

When the Atar Piano Trio approached me about composing a piece for their Dream within a Dream program, I immediately thought of Gregor Samsa, the protagonist in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.Gregor waks from an anxious dream transformed into a horrible bug. I interpreted this to suggest a type of people, 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 their recordings of mountain pine beetles (D. ponderosae, Ips pini and D. valens), from which I fashioned the electronics. The mood of the anxious dream, and the ominous world into which Gregor wakes, suffused my musical imaginings, as did Kafka’s position as a Jew, navigating the Czech and German attitudes of his environment. Fear of the ‘other’ permeates the story. This poignant story is an important reminder that the ‘other’ is part of our own family, an important reminder in our tribalistic times.–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, Atar Trio

Piano | Violin | Cello | Recorded soundtrack

Gregors Dream from Judith Shatin on Vimeo.

About the composer

composer Judith shatin

Judith Shatin is a composer whose music has been described as “…highly inventive…on every level, hugely enjoyable and deeply involving with a constant sense of surprise…” (The Washington Post). She draws on expanded sonic palettes, from the ripping of tape, to the sounds of machines, to the calls of animals, as well as developing expanded techniques for traditional instruments. Timbral exploration and collaboration are central to her musical life, as is her ongoing study of music perception and the application of its results to her work. She often intertwines traditional instruments with new media, as in her Black Moon, for conductor-controlled electronics and orchestra. Her music has been commissioned by organizations including the Barlow Endowment, Carnegie Hall, the Fromm Foundation and the Library of Congress. Ensembles such as the National and Richmond Symphonies, Kronos and Cassatt Quartets, Da Capo Chamber Players, the Dutch Hexagon Ensemble, and Scottish Voices have also commissioned it. She has been honored with four composer fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, while a two-year retrospective of her music, culminating in the premiere of her folk oratorio, Coal, was sponsored by the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Arts Partners program. Her music can be heard on the Centaur, Neuma, New World, Ravello, and Sonora labels, with two portrait albums on Innova. It has been featured at festivals including Aspen, BAM Next Wave, Grand Teton, Havana in Spring, Moscow Autumn, Seal Bay and West Cork.

In demand as a master teacher, Shatin has served as BMI composer-in-residence at Vanderbilt University, Senior Composer at the Wellesley Composers Forum, and Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She is also a strong advocate for her fellow composers, and served as President of the American Women Composers, on the board of the League of Composers/ISCM and the American Composers Alliance, and on the advisory board of the IAWM (International Alliance for Women in Music). Educated at Douglass College (AB, Phi Beta Kappa), The Juilliard School (MM) and Princeton University (PhD), Shatin undertook additional studies as a Crofts Composition Fellow at Tanglewood, as well as studies at the Aspen Music Festival. The founder of the Virginia Center for Computer Music, Judith Shatin is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor at the University of Virginia.

The Program

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