Daniel Variations

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Daniel Variations, New England Conservatory, November 2007

Daniel Variations is a composition by Steve Reich written in 2006. It is scored for two each of soprano and tenor voices, clarinets, four pianos, string quartet and percussion (six players, playing Bass Drum, Gong, and four Vibraphones). Daniel Variations is in four movements, using text from the biblical book of Daniel for the first and third movements, and from the words of Daniel Pearl, the American-Jewish reporter, kidnapped and murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan in 2002, for the second and fourth movements.

The texts for the movements are:

1. I saw a dream. Images upon my bed and visions in my head frightened me. (Daniel 4:2, or 4:5 in Christian translations)

2. My name is Daniel Pearl. (I'm a Jewish American from Encino California.)

3. Let the dream fall back onto the dreaded. (Daniel 4:16, or 4:19 in Christian translations)

4. I sure hope that Gabriel likes my music, when the day is done

Repetitions of each text unfold within a series of harmonic variations structured similarly to Reich's You Are (Variations) (2004), amidst a texture of interlocking string motifs, piano and vibraphone accents and woodwind accompaniment.

Daniel Variations was commissioned by Daniel's father, Judea Pearl and the Daniel Pearl Foundation, along with the Barbican Centre, where it received its premiere in 2006 as part of the composer's 70th birthday retrospective.