Commissioned by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra
First performance by Teddy Tahu Rhodes and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Daniel, Perth Concert Hall, 12 March 2010
A Dream of Drowning (2009) for baritone and orchestra
words by Tim Winton from his novel Breath
A Dream of Drowning was commissioned by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra for Teddy Tahu Rhodes to sing in the opening concert of the orchestra’s 2010 season. It is scored for baritone voice, vibraphone, harmonium, celesta, harp and strings.
For the text, I chose a passage from Tim Winton’s Breath describing a post-traumatic dream experienced by the central character, Bruce ‘Pikelet’ Pike.
I only remember the dream.
I was deep. The whole sea boiled overhead. White streaks of turbulence drove down like tracer fire and rocket trails, a free-fire zone in dim and shuddering green.
And I’m plummeting, a projectile. When it comes rushing at me, black as death, the reef is shot full of holes and I slam into one, headlong.
Next, I see myself, from outside my flailing, panicked body. Headfirst. Wedged in the rock. While my lungs turn to sponge and the ocean inside me flickers with cruel light.
Tim Winton, Breath
Breath © Tim Winton 2008, published by Hamish Hamilton. Reproduced with the permission of Penguin Group (Australia).