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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Butterfly Dreams (2002)
Commissioned by Brighton Chamber Choir, who gave the first performance on 11th May 2003, at The Old Market, Hove, Sussex, conducted by Paul Brough.
Text Writer
Chuang Tse, Kokko, Buson, Issa, Anon., Pavel Friedmann, Acoman Indian
Chester Music Ltd
Chorus a cappella / + 1 instrument
Year Composed
14 Minutes
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Programme Note
John Tavener Butterfly Dreams (2002)
Alan Barrett suggested that I write a piece for Brighton Chamber Choir based on his selected texts, and reflecting his photographs of butterflies.
I regard BUTTERFLY DREAMS as a sacred work. The Red Indians have the pure metaphysics of virgin nature, and insofar as virgin nature is a manifestation of the Logos (the word of God), BUTTERFLY DREAMS is intrinsically a sacred work. The texts are taken from different sources, including Chuang Tse, and Acoman Indian and a poem written by a young Czech victim of Auschwitz. All the poems share an almost child-like simplicity, and I have tried to reflect this in the music, which should be sung as simply and naturally as possible.
BUTTERFLY DREAMS is dedicated to William Two-Feather, a medicine man from the Apache Indian tribe, who brought me the gift of a pow-wow drum that had been used in the sacred ceremonies of the Apache Indians, such as the Sun Dance. It is also dedicated to Alan Barrett, and to Brighton Chamber Choir, who gave the first performance.


  • Ensemble
    Stephen Layton
  • Ensemble
    Skylark Vocal Ensemble
    Sono Luminus:
Several of the songs are tiny haikus, time brushed by the wing-tip of sound... An irresistible song-cycle.
Hilary Finch, The Times,23/11/2004
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