She Dreams of Flying (2023)
commissioned by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra of Hartford, CT
Dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Carolyn Kuan
Composed January - May 2023
2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 2 percussion, harp, strings
Percussion 1: Tam-tam, Triangle, Suspended Cymbal
Percussion 2: Bass Drum, Chimes
11 - 12 Minutes
Hartford Symphony Orchestra; Carolyn Kuan conducting - June 9-11, 2023
'She Dreams of Flying' is my tribute to the inspirational and amazing women in my life, many of whom have played a significant part in my musical and personal development, and is dedicated to the phenomenal Maestra Carolyn Kuan, with whom I had a very successful and fruitful musical partnership for a season at the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. The composition begins with an offstage trumpet motif over a soft string pad — a theme that persists in being heard by showing up throughout the piece in different forms, usually more prominent each time. From the beginning, the work builds, along the way showcasing the strengths and virtuosity of the orchestra. As the music becomes more inspired, the ideas get more complex, with the theme becoming more and more part of the texture until it is stated in full near the end.
"Mason was clearly an excellent choice. He worked so well with the orchestra that he ended up dedicating his piece “She Dreams of Flying” to Hartford Symphony Orchestra director Carolyn Kuan. Introducing the piece, he said it was “my tribute to the extraordinary women in my life,” in the same breath calling Kuan “extraordinary.”
“She Dreams of Flying” plays deftly to the orchestra’s strengths, starting with an opening long trumpet note which John Charles Thomas plays from offstage before taking his accustomed seat in the brass section. Mason was not just attuned to the individual members of the orchestra, he even considered the spatial specifics of the Belding Theater venue.
What’s remarkable about “She Dreams of Flying,” in both its composition and in how the Hartford Symphony Orchestra performs it, is that the piece has an element beyond notes on paper. It vibrates. A sonic reverberation, a natural humming, emanates from the orchestra, which sustains this sound and utilizes it, right up to its righteous concluding crescendo. This is a multi-dimensional modern classical work that feels “flight” differently than all those composers with their birdsong impersonations earlier this season."
-Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant (June 10, 2023)