Lakes Awake at Dawn

Thought shared by composer Eriks Esenvalds about Lakes Awake at Dawn

LAKES AWAKE AT DAWN (2014) was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and both performances were conducted by Andris Nelsons. The work is for mixed choir (SSAATTBB) and symphony orchestra, and the text of the work is based on poetry by Inga Ābele, as well as texts compiled by the composer from various writings about lakes

The first half of the work is full of intensity and very expressive – both pp and ff dynamics. A fear of the dark, fleeing from something dangerous and terrifying, through the woods, tumbling through the undergrowth. There is no specific story in Inga Ābele’s poetry, but there are still specific individual, personal experiences woven through it. “What is within me from the light and from the dark?” There are elements of great tension, an existential experience, and the unknown. There are many stories like this in Latvia’s history – refugees fleeing from war and violence, as well as deportation to Siberia.

The second half is peaceful – I used it to represent the moment that, when, free of fear and the dark forest, a person reaches a sleepy lake in the early morning when dawn is breaking. But no – the lake is not sleeping – it awakens and calmly breathes, reflecting the sky within its waters. The lake is a like a sanctuary for prayers – for peace, a better life, and happiness. The lake is beautiful, always beautiful.