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Work of the Week – Hannah Lash: The Peril of Dreams

We have had enough of our dreary everyday life so we have let Hannah Lash take us on a journey to the realm of dreams – would you like to join? In her new piece for two harps and orchestra, she explores the theme of dreaming and the potential dangers. The Peril of Dreams will be premiered at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, Benaroya Hall, in Seattle on 18 November 2021. Hannah Lash is not only a composer, but an esteemed harpist. The world premiere will be performed by Seattle Symphony with soloists Hannah Lash and Valerie Muzzolini (principal) under Thomas Dausgaard.

The Peril of Dreams by Hannah Lash – like a symphony in four movements

Lash has received numerous honors and prizes, including the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, a Charles Ives Scholarship (2011) and Fellowship (2016) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fromm Foundation Commission, a Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Grant, a fellowship from Yaddo Artist Colony, the Naumburg Prize in Composition, the Barnard Rogers Prize in Composition, the Bernard and Rose Sernoffsky Prize in Composition, and numerous academic awards. Now, she offers her audience the rare opportunity to hear the interplay of two harps with orchestra by providing a symphonic concert with four thematically related movements.

The Peril of Dreams is a symphony expressed through the lens of a double harp concerto: four movements which are in many ways thematically connected. The first movement lays out the musical materials and the relationship of soloists to ensemble. The second, a kind of minuet scherzo, reveals a hidden character – the ‘hymn from upstairs’, which only makes its appearance at the very end of the movement. The third movement is a kind of Tarantella or death dance – a short, poisonous spike of energy before the somber, tragic final movement in which the harps drift nobly further and further from the orchestra. Hannah Lash

Another performance of the work takes place at Benaroya Hall on 20 November. The Peril of Dreams was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra with leadership support from Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting.The premiere was due to take place in April 2020, but was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We have dedicated an issue of our Schott Journal to the theme of ‘Dreams’, which can be found here:


photo: Bob Handelman