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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Iero Oniro (A Sacred Dream) (1999)
commissioned by the Nash Ensemble and the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center
Chester Music Ltd
Soloists and Large Ensemble (7+ players)
Year Composed
15 Minutes
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Programme Note
John Tavener Iero Oniro (A Sacred Dream) (1999)
Ieró Óniro came to me in a dream-like state, during Great and Holy week in Greece 1999. I had been to a service in the evening, and during the night I dreamt a "transfigured" version of the service. The music in the dream was elusive, and sung by a female voice with a small group of instruments. As I say, the music was elusive and it was beautiful. But it was not a beauty that could be reckoned as a category of aesthetics, rather, so it seemed to me, more as the divine grace which forms and holds together the universe. So, the next morning I looked at the Byzantine text of the service, and wrote the music that I had heard.

Such music is a mystery, even to me, and I offer it (poor though it may be) to "my singer" Patricia, Amelia, the Nash Ensemble and to the eternal memory of Christopher vam Kampen. Since the music of dreams is not "incarnate" the dynamic is one of inner quiet, inner stillness, inner tranquility.

Ieró Óniro should be performed at the back of the stage, from a distance, with subdued lighting.

John Tavener

  • Ensemble
    Chamber Choir of Southern Iceland
    Gudrun Johanna Olafsdottir (soprano), Hrolfur Saemundsson (baritone)
    Hilmar Örn Agnarsson
…the elusive and beautiful sounds heard by the Wigmore Hall audience were a mere earthly transcription of the divine inspirations Tavener heard during his sleep one night in Greece during Easter 1999: Iero Oniro means "Sacred Dream".
Rob Ainsley,,31/01/2001
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