Wind EnsembleHard9:30


“…insomnia juxtaposed with lyricism…”

Listen to Dreamland

Performed by the San Jose State University Wind Ensemble
Conductor Dr. Edward C. Harris

View Sample Score


Program Note

By Michael Markowski

For me, it always feels a little strange to describe exactly what a piece is “about.” I find myself catching inspiration for a new composition in a number of different places — in isolated specific influences or unique musical sources — and somehow, after working with all the odds-and-ends loosely, they all manage to come together under some common thread. For this piece, the thread, simply, is dreams.

The opening few bars quotes one of my favorite contemporary artists/songwriters, Gary Wilson. The musical quotation is borrowed from the opening track, A Very Small Town, to Wilson’s album, Mary Had Brown Hair (which is coincidentally reminiscent of the children’s song that begins, “Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?”). Over the last 30 years of his work, dreams have become a common theme for Wilson, too — a way for him to revisit and relive the magical (and the painful) memories from his youth. For Gary, walking into his own dreams is a dose of a nostalgia.

In the section that follows, I quote my own past: a never-before performed choral work called Echo that I composed just after my high school graduation. The saxophone section sings this new idea in the tradition of a four-part choral setting. The text that inspires the passage, borrowed from the 19th century poet, Christina Rossetti, describes dreams as a place to visit with those in the speaker’s life who have passed away — a place where these spirits might “come back in dreams.”

While both of these influences are beautiful in a darkly romantic way, I thrive on the energy of being a night person — so much so that the idea that sleep is an inevitable force haunts me a little bit. My own insomnia juxtaposed with the more traditional lyricism of these other influences is what ultimately defines the musical landscape. Perhaps to best summarize these thoughts, I will quote my own past, again:

To Bed (2008)

box spring
time machine
ugliness must exile from
this queen-sized executioner

neurons fire
inspired missiles
temporal warfare that
most mornings don’t remember

this quiet
kills with comfort
a customary comatose
each night must surrender

Dreamland was commissioned by The Consortium for the Advancement of Wind Band Literature organized by Jim Kull at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles, Illinois.

Commissioned By

The Consortium for the Advancement of Wind Band Literature
Consortium organized by Jim Kull

St. Charles East High School
Jim Kull and Gil Wukitsch

The National Wind Band Honors Project
Rick Yancey, Managing Director

Lake Zurich High School
Joshua Thompson

New Trier High School
Matt Temple

Naperville Central High School
DJ Alstadt and Brandon Estes

Champaign Central High School
John and Jennifer Currey

Illinois State University Bands
Steve Steele

Sun Prairie High School
Steve Sveum

Downers Grove South High School
Craig Roselieb, Ron Hornish and Glenn Williams


Markowski Creative (ASCAP)


Winds: Piccolo, Flute 1 & 2, Oboe, Bassoon, Contrabassoon, E-flat Clarinet, B-flat Clarinet 1-4, B-flat Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone 1 & 2, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone

Brass: B-flat Trumpet 1-4, Horn 1-4, Trombone 1-3, Euphonium, Tuba

Strings: String Bass

Keyboards: Electric Piano*

Percussion: Timpani; P1) Vibraphone, Suspended Cymbal; P2) Marimba, Suspended Cymbal; P3) Crotales (2 octaves), Bell Tree; P4) Chimes, Crash Cymbal; P5) Three Concert Toms, Kick Drum, Snare Drum (sticks and brushes), Shaker; P6) Bass Drum

*Rhodes fender patch preferred, with moderate vibrato


Tbn., Bsn.; m. 28, the slur on beat 3 should extend from Bb to D, to match the slur in m. 15.

B. Cl.; m. 63, should be F#, not F

Cl. 4; m. 97, the second note should be a G, not an A.

Miscellaneous articulation fixes.

Year Completed



Gary Wilson – A Very Small Town

Weight N/A
Dimensions N/A


Wind Ensemble