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The Idea of a Whale (2008)

Instrumentation: Soprano and Piano
Duration: ca. 7'
Text by Douglas Buchanan
Commissioned by the University of Baltimore
Premiere Date: May 22, 2008, Baltimore, MD

Program Note

Environmental concerns have pervaded my daily thoughts for decades, even since I was a child. Raised as a vegetarian, compassion for and conservation of earthly species and resources was and remains a constant for me. These concerns have frequently entered into my music. In 2007, the University of Baltimore approached me to create an interconnected piece of art for a course in creativity which they were offering at the time. The commission was for a poem, a painting, and a piece of music. Earlier that year, during the summer months, I had a vivid image in a dream: a blue whale, floating in the midst of a yellow-and-gray space. This provided the germ of the work which would be The Idea of Whale. In it, I imagined a creature, disembodied perhaps, itself dreaming, or perhaps a dream. In the course of the work, we experience the central figure’s joy of life and the devastation of impending extinction.

The Idea of a Whale was premiered by Lindsay Thompson, soprano, and Douglas Buchanan, piano, May 20, 2008, at the University of Baltimore, and May 22, 2008, at the Peabody Conservatory.

— Douglas Buchanan


Lindsay Thompson, Soprano, performs Douglas Buchanan's "The Idea of a Whale," commissioned by the University of Baltimore, with the composer at the piano.


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