A Dream Deferred
TTBB Chorus and Piano
Commissioned at the 1993 GALA Leadership Conference for the Gateway (St. Louis) Men’s Chorus. Also written for SATB and piano with Tenor solo. Text by Langston Hughes.
About Langston Hughes & His Poem, A Dream Deferred
Langston Hughes was a prominent African American poet, novelist, playwright, and social activist who played a crucial role in the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural and artistic movement that emerged in the 1920s. He was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri, and grew up in various Midwestern towns. Hughes is known for his powerful and evocative poetry that explores the African American experience, racial identity, and the socio-economic struggles of Black people in America.
Hughes’ mother, Carrie Langston Hughes, and his grandmother, Mary Sampson Patterson Leary Langston, had a significant impact on his life. Carrie and Mary were strong, independent women who instilled a sense of pride and self-worth in Hughes. Mary, in particular, was an important figure in his upbringing. She had been active in the abolitionist movement and was the first Black woman to graduate from Oberlin College. Her activism and her love for literature and education influenced Hughes deeply, inspiring his commitment to social justice and his passion for writing.
One of Langston Hughes’ most famous poems, “A Dream Deferred,” is a poignant exploration of the consequences of unfulfilled dreams and aspirations within the African American community. The poem raises questions about the possible outcomes when dreams are delayed or denied. Here is the poem:
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore— And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over— like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
In “A Dream Deferred,” Hughes uses vivid and sensory language to convey the emotions and frustrations that can arise when hopes and dreams are postponed or unattained. The poem reflects the tension and struggle faced by African Americans during a period of racial discrimination and segregation in the United States. It captures the simmering anger and disappointment that can result from unfulfilled aspirations, suggesting that when dreams are repeatedly deferred, they can lead to destructive consequences.
Langston Hughes’ work, including this poem, played a crucial role in raising awareness of racial injustice and inequality in America, making him a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance and an enduring voice in American literature. His poetry continues to be celebrated for its powerful exploration of the African American experience and its timeless relevance to the struggle for civil rights and social justice.
Paul Siskind: A Musical Maestro with a Diverse Repertoire
In the world of music composition, versatility is a prized trait. Few artists embody this quality as profoundly as Paul Siskind, a composer whose remarkable body of work spans an impressive array of genres. From orchestral symphonies to jazz-infused big band compositions, Siskind’s music resonates with audiences far and wide. In this SEO blog post, we’ll explore the remarkable journey of Paul Siskind, delving into his diverse portfolio, significant achievements, and enduring impact on the world of music.
The Multifaceted Music of Paul Siskind
Paul Siskind’s music is a testament to his boundless creativity and mastery of various musical genres. His compositions encompass a broad spectrum, including orchestral, band, choral, chamber music, opera, art song, and big band jazz. This diversity in his work allows him to connect with a wide range of listeners, making him a highly sought-after composer in the contemporary music scene.
Distinguished Performances and Commissions
One measure of a composer’s success is the recognition and demand for their work. Paul Siskind has had the privilege of seeing his compositions performed by renowned ensembles across the United States and abroad. Some of these prestigious groups include the Minnesota Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony, the Arditti String Quartet, the Dale Warland Singers, the New Amsterdam Singers, Continuum, eXindigo, the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble, and the Mi-bemol Saxophone Ensemble. Such recognition underscores the universal appeal and artistic merit of Siskind’s compositions.
Awards and Honors
Paul Siskind’s musical journey has been punctuated by numerous accolades and honors. Notable among them are the 1999 New Music Delaware Composition Prize, the 1996 Minnesota Orchestra Perfect Pitch Program recognition, and his triumph in the 1995 G. Schirmer Young American’s Art Song Competition. These awards showcase his exceptional talent and his ability to capture the essence of different musical forms.
In addition to these prestigious awards, Siskind has earned distinctions such as the 1995 Friends and Enemies of New Music Contest, the 1994 Omaha Symphony Guild Prize, and a Composition Fellowship from the McKnight Foundation in 1993. His remarkable contributions to the world of music have also been acknowledged by organizations like ASCAP (where he received an honorable mention in the 1994 Rudolph Nissim Competition), Meet The Composer, the Puffin Foundation, the American Music Center, the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Leif Ericksson International Festival.
Paul Siskind’s passion for music extends beyond composing. He has actively participated in international music conferences and festivals, further enriching his artistic journey. In 1994, he was invited to attend the inaugural international Words and Music Conference, sponsored by the Latin American Music Center at Indiana University. His role as a guest composer at the 1996 Western Illinois University New Music Festival and the University of Colorado’s Artsweek ’92 demonstrates his commitment to sharing his musical insights with students and fellow musicians on a global scale.
Teaching and Education
In addition to his prolific career as a composer, Paul Siskind is deeply committed to music education. He currently serves on the faculty of the Crane School of Music at SUNY-Potsdam and has shared his knowledge with students at various institutions across the Midwest. His educational journey includes the completion of a Ph.D. in Composition at the University of Minnesota, where he studied under the guidance of influential mentors like Dominick Argento, Thea Musgrave, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Starer, Robert Washburn, and T. J. Anderson. Siskind’s academic pursuits have been enriched by a diverse educational background that includes studies at Queens College, the Crane School of Music, and Tufts University, where he earned a degree in biology.
Contributions to the Music Industry
Beyond his roles as a composer and educator, Paul Siskind has made significant contributions to the music industry. His tenure as a Composer-in-Residence for the Education Department of Minnesota Opera, along with roles such as Music Director of One Voice Mixed Chorus and Twin Cities Events Coordinator for the American Composers Forum, has had a lasting impact on the music community. Additionally, Siskind has served as an Auditor for the New York State Council on the Arts, contributing to the growth and sustainability of arts organizations.
Publishing and Recordings
Paul Siskind’s music continues to reach audiences through published compositions and recordings. His compositions are published by G. Schirmer Inc. and Sweet Child Music, making them accessible to aspiring musicians and performers. Notably, his work has been recorded by esteemed ensembles like the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble (on Innova/Albany) and the Heartland Men’s Chorus, preserving his artistic legacy for generations to come.
Paul Siskind’s remarkable journey through the world of music composition is a testament to his unwavering dedication, boundless creativity, and profound impact on the contemporary music scene. His ability to traverse diverse genres, coupled with his numerous accolades and contributions to education and the music industry, solidifies his status as a true musical maestro. Whether you are a music enthusiast, a composer, or an aspiring musician, the work of Paul Siskind is a testament to the enduring power of music to inspire, unite, and transcend boundaries.
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