Casuarina-salvaged Dreaming

for mixed octet + electronics

Premiere: UCSD Graduate Ensemble
  • Conductor: Steven Schick
  • Flutes: Sasha Ishov, Teresa Diaz-de-Cossio
  • Oboe: Juliana Gaona-Villamizar
  • Percussion: Rebecca Lloyd-Jones, Michael Jones
  • Piano: Dimitris Paganos Koukakis
  • Double Bass: Kathryn Schulmeister
  • Audio Engineers: Pablo Ochoa & Stephen de Filippo

The casuarina tree (casuarina obesa) is known for its role as a conduit of past experiences, a repository of messages, and a ‘vocal’ tree. The distinct sound produced by the wind passing through its unique foliage of needles and leaf scales has consistently caught attention. The acoustic encounter with the casuarina has been described as haunted, mournful, and suggestive of a clandestine language, conveying personal histories and experiences.

Drawing inspiration from a field recording of the tree, both in composition and electronics, my aim was to delve into the transience of memories. The wind, voices, birds, and instrumental samples traverse the auditorium’s channels, while the ensemble responds, mimics, and maneuvers around the electronic component. Sound inherently holds significant social value tied to a sense of place, but through electronic manipulation, I sought to convey a sense of displacement.

A majority of the electronic sound sources are localized specifically within the Southwest region of Australia: excerpts from home videos, conversations with friends, field recordings capturing urban and natural environments, recitations of local poetry, and serendipitous discoveries made during the compositional process. Some of these sources undergo processing, while others are presented in their entirety, sometimes concealed within the texture and at other times more conspicuous. However, all these sources maintain a personal connection to me, reflecting my experiences, sense of place, and relationship with home.

Acknowledging my current physical distance from home, I wanted to express that these memories are in a state of flux. While I am in America and the casuarina trees are no longer present, the recordings help salvage my connection to that sense of place.



  • 31/10/2019: UCSD Graduate Ensemble (Steven Schick, cond.), Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, La Jolla, California, USA [premiere]