The Pillow Book

The Pillow Book

Mezzo-soprano, Alto Saxophone, Violin, Cello, Piano
Mezzo-soprano, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano
Duration: 15:00 minutes


“Dorothy Hindman realized the full potential of the entire Goliard in her continuous song cycle, The Pillow Book. Hindman, who is also the ensemble’s composer-in-residence, derived the tonal materials for the 15-minute piece from pentatonic and whole-tone scales and framed her tunes and chords with string harmonics and other effects. Lyrical melodies structured around hard-to-miss climaxes give The Pillow Book its momentum. While the piece was conceived as a series of short episodes, the overall result was seamless and organic.”
~Phillip Ratliff, “Ensemble performs eclectic, uneven show with rich vocals,” The Birmingham News, Sunday, February 22, 2009

Program Notes:

The Pillow Book (2008) is a song cycle originally commissioned by the Goliard Ensemble for mezzo-soprano, alto saxophone, violin, cello and piano.  It was arranged for clarinet in April, 2009 for the Divan Consort.  The music is creates an alluring soundscape in a single continuous movement, but with definite divisions.  The work progresses from observations of the external, physical realm to observations of the internal, metaphysical and then back.  Musical ideas associated with specific poetic images are recalled throughout, adding further dimension to the layers of text.  This work allows the composer to continue in the line of her works that play upon the individual’s perception of music. In these works, Hindman often presents incomplete ideas, which are intended to be completed in the mind of the listener, based on expectation or memory.  The musical objects constituted in the consciousness of the listener are meant to be as meaningful as the “real” music that is heard, and invite an individualized musical experience within the communal experience.  The texts by Rebecca Lindenberg are a perfect complement for Hindman’s phenomenological concerns.  They take the form of a pillow book, or memoir lists seemingly casually jotted down, that taken as a whole create an image in the mind greater than the sum of its parts.  They involve a similar engagement of the listener, which invites a uniquely personal completion of the imagery.

Hindman met Lindenberg in 2005 while both were living as Fellow Travelers at the American Academy in Rome.  While the poetic images appealed to Hindman because of their Rome and New York references, they are broad enough to resonate with any American living in the 21st century.

Premiere: March 7, 2009
Goliard Ensemble
Southeastern Tour Concert
Steinway Reformed Church
Astoria, NY
Commissioner: Goliard Ensemble