Mary Ellen Childs

Dream House

Innova 672


1 Hocket 

2 Destruction 

3 After Dust 

4 Bass Line 


6 Pizz Hocket 

7 Welding 


9 Waiting 

10 Breath 

11 Very High 

12 Strum 

13 Saws 

14 Shavasana


I composed Dream House as an evening-length composition that received its premiere in October 2004 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis by the acclaimed New York string quartet ETHEL.  In performance, the work features live music and multi-image video that surrounds the musicians.  The work serves as a commentary on cycles of time, the rhythms of work, and the intertwined nature of destruction and creation. The stunning video by Daniel Polsfuss incorporates imagery based on time-lapse and real-time video images of destruction and construction. 


The project began after I lived through extensive renovation of my own home. I was fascinated by the sounds, the repetitions, the beauty of work images, and understood that things I once thought to be permanent were anything but that. Later

I followed another construction project that included the destruction of an existing home, and my team and I collected sound and video elements at that site and several others. A sound montage, created by NeverWas is featured in two of the movements, incorporating those destruction and construction sounds into the fabric of the string quartet music.

      Mary Ellen Childs



Music by Mary Ellen Childs (ASCAP)

Sound montage by NeverWas (Christopher Cunningham)


Cornelius Dufallo, violin

Ralph Farris, viola

Dorothy Lawson, cello

Mary Rowell, violin


Recorded July 2006

    at The Clubhouse, Rhinebeck, NY

Engineer: Dave Cook

Editing: James Ferri

Mixing and mastering: Matthew Zimmerman     

    at Wild Sound Studio, Minneapolis, MN



Photo of ETHEL: ©Steven J. Sherman

Video Stills: Daniel Polsfuss

Photos: V. Paul Virtucio

Design: Diane Waller


This recording of Dream House was supported in part by The New York State Music Fund,

established by The New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

This recording was also funded by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. administered by the

American Music Center, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and is supported in part through a

McKnight Fellowship for Composers and subito, both programs of the American Composers Forum.


The creation of Dream House was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation Multi-Arts Production Fund, Meet The ComposerŐs New Residency Program (funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts and other generous supporters) and the American Music CenterŐs Composer Assistance Program.