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Music  >  Choral/Vocal  >  I Have Found a Dream of Beauty

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I Have Found a Dream of Beauty (2015, rev. 2020)

SKU: G012101-3


Digital Score (8.5x11): $3.00/copy       Printed Score (8.5x11): $3.50/copy

Instrumentation: SSATBB, Piano, & Percussion

Duration: 06:30

Text: Isabella Bird


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About the Piece

Written for and premiered by the Denver Pro Chorale under the direction of Josh Jackson. Premiered on Dec. 12th, 2015 at the Church of the Ascension in Denver, CO. 

The Story

When Josh Jackson took over as interim director for the Denver Pro Chorale, I joked one day about writing a piece for our winter concert. Josh loved the idea, and was expecting (under the impression I gave him at the time) that I would write something short, simple, perhaps even an arrangement of a popular holiday tune. In the end, he and the choir instead received this epic of Isabella Bird's final climb up Storm Peak in Colorado in the late 1800's, in attempt to see the sunset before the completion of her famous exploration of the Rocky Mountains.

The piece uses an intense description of swirling snow and frigid landscapes as she climbs, interrupted by her own warm memories of scenes from her journey. I originally wrote the piece for a Cappella chorus, with some percussion and hand chimes thrown in to add some extra texture. However, as the years went by, I felt that the sounds I envisioned to help capture the story weren't aligned with the music I wrote. I believe that this was, in part, because of my skill and mindset at the time I wrote this work. So, I decided to revise it in this new year, add a piano part, and do my best to bring the work to fruition in the way I always heard it in my "minds ear."


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Selected Texts by Isabella Bird (from "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains")

Other text by Bryan Grosbach


"I have found a dream of beauty at which one might look all one's life and sigh."


The snow is so deep and level as she trots alone,

Towards Storm Peak;

A solitude so pure and dreadful as bitter winds

Swirl across the ice with a shriek.

She rides on and remembers the first time,

O'er warm embers, she saw the sunset behind the mountains

And wrote:


"The beauty is entrancing. The sinking sun is out of sight,

And the pine-hung promontories are a rich indigo."

The cold is ever pressing and bitter as she

Mends the stirrup with bare hands.

The biting chill on her skin sends her heart a shiver

As the frost snaps her face and tears blur that wintry land.

Driving forth she grows firmer,

As a fire inside swells with fervor to see the peaks,

One last time, framed by the sunset,

Her words echoing in her mind:

"The peaks above, which still catch the sun, are bright-red rose,

And pink are the far-off summits on which the snowdrifts rest."

Climb. On foot she strides as if there was no snow in her path.

She climbs higher, higher, to the top of the mountain.

The sun sinks and she sees:

"A Beauty indescribable, behind the mountain a colour rioting in the sky,

Every glory of colour, through rebellion and triumph, through pathos and tenderness

Until there is stillness broken only by the moonlight."

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