The 30-minute piece gathers the texts from seven of Dickinson's poems, including "I dwell in Possibility."
The 19th-century American poet's works are "intensely personal, intellectual, introspective, and offer a meditation on life, death, and poetic creation," Thomas writes in her notes for the performance. "The poems used in Gathering Paradise are marked by the intimate recollection of inspirational moments which are suggestive of hope and the possibility of happiness found in art and in the observation of the natural world."
Also on the Philharmonic's program, which is repeated on September 29 and 30 and October 1, 2, and 5, is Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina Prelude, Bart‹k's Miraculous Mandarin Suite, and Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, with the star pianist Lang Lang.
Thomas's works are untraditional in their tonality, but bold and energetic ‹one critic wrote that her music is "abrasive but somehow accessible." She teaches at Northwestern University and is composer in residence at the Chicago Symphony, which will perform Gathering Paradise in February 2005, again conducted by Maazel and with Murphy as soloist.