The Star Tribune reviewed VocalEssence’s performance of Jake Runestad’s “Dreams of the Fallen.”
Jake Runestad, a 29-year-old Illinois native who now lives in Minneapolis, composed “Dreams” on a text drawn from the much-acclaimed poetry of Brian Turner, whose work reflects his seven years in the U.S. Army. A third element is the piano soloist, Jeffrey Biegel in this instance.
The piano actually becomes a character in the music, a soldier, perhaps, who suffers through the terrors of combat and emerges finally able to deal with his troubling emotions.
Though none of this is spelled out in literal detail, there is clearly a progression in text and music from extreme violence to a kind of peaceful and well-earned acceptance that is not at all sentimental. Light seems to enter the music in Runestad’s beautifully written — and imaginatively orchestrated — final pages and, for the first time, we hear solo voices singing a gentle upward-climbing melody, suggesting that humanity has finally prevailed and might even survive. Turner’s haunting opening words are repeated at the end: “And I keep telling myself that if I walk far enough or long enough, someday I’ll come out the other side.”