4 Pieces for Violin and Piano
Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble
Staten Island, NY
Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble
Staten Island, NY
new work PREMIERE
First Christian Church of Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, CO
Here’s a recording of “Level” from the premiere at the Mondavi Center at UC Davis in January by the fantastic teenage musicians violinist Alexi Kenney and pianist Hilda Huang. Writing “Handoff” last October put me on a 3-piece kick of music with drones/pedals that included “within” and “Level,” all written in quick succession in the fall.
Here’s a video for a piano piece “within” I wrote for Vicky Chow while at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in November. I shot this video using my telephone at Glenn Cornett’s Spectrum, which has a fantastic piano. This piece will be premiered on Sunday at Fast Forward Austin.
I recently received a video of a collaborative dance-theatre piece by choreographer Laura Diffenderfer that I wrote the music and did sound design for. It is an abstract retelling of Willa Cather’s short story “A Wagner Matinee” and was premiered at the Red Cloud Opera House in Red Cloud, Nebraska (population 1020), Cather’s hometown. The performance in the video is from the New York premiere at the Merce Cunningham Studio in 2010. This excerpt comes from the extended middle section of the work in which Wagner’s Prelude to Tristan und Isolde stirs up memories in the aunt of the story’s narrator. Musically, I juxtaposed a processed recording of the Prelude with wind recordings evoking the harshness of the Nebraskan landscape. From this emerges a solo piano piece that is essentially a long minimalist deconstruction of the iconic chords of the Prelude. The piano solo starts sparsely at 2:34 and builds up eventually from there.
I recently was listening back through some of my older music, and was still remarkably happy with how my film scores sound. So, I decided to make a little collection of my favorites that haven’t seen the light of day in awhile- kind of an EP- and put them online. These are largely written during my senior year in college and the year after (10 years ago!) and are for a variety of student projects and independent short films. They are scored for everything from solo vibraphone to synths to full orchestra. All that need a conductor were conducted by me. There’s 7 tracks totaling 12 minutes. Give them a listen…
Here are two new videos. One I shot for the Build piece Swelter 3 on New Years Day. The other is from a performance last summer by the fantastic Vicky Chow of my 2003 piece, Plus Minus.
Back in early October while recovering from the Carlsbad Fest, I wrote a quick piece for the wind quartet DZ4. They had several (24 to be exact) friends to write a 2-3 minute piece in each of the major and minor key a la The Well Tempered Clavier. I got C minor, and chose to treat it very strictly: no accidentals and a C drone throughout. I also thought about the ensemble and how different the sounds of oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn are from each other (while all being in the same orchestral family) compared to say, the instruments of a string quartet.
So, I decided to write a simple piece with two main elements (a melody and a rhythmic accompaniment) but that become interesting in their constantly changing colors as they are passed around the four instruments. The melody is seamlessly passed from instrument to instrument depending on which is most appropriate for the range and the character of each part of the melody. The rhythmic pattern on middle C stays the same throughout and alternates every other note between the instruments not playing the melody at the time. Through both of these ideas this piece puts a spotlight on an old technique of good chamber music playing: handing off a musical idea from one musician to the next. Hence the title: Handoff.
A few weeks ago I finished writing 4 Pieces for Violin and Piano for the Mondavi Center at UC Davis. This commission is for their young artists competition and had one of the more specific set of parameters I’ve worked with: write a piece consisting of 3-5 short movements each of which is appropriate for a different level of teenage violinist.
On January 8, each of the competition’s violinists will choose one of the movements to play as part of their competition performance and I will be one of the judges. The following weekend, last year’s competition winners Alexi Kenney and Hilda Huang will premiere the piece in its entirety. This project is the brainchild of the excellent pianist Lara Downes, and I think it is a really fantastic experience for these teenage musicians to have the opportunity to premiere a new piece.
In writing the piece, I thought about what I would have wanted to play when I was their age and how I could write something that would work for this project that I might also want to play myself in the future. So, two of the movements are explorations of ideas I have played with in Build pieces, one is a new rhythmic direction for me and one is a kind dirge. I have to say, it was a bit of a challenge to write a piece for different ability levels that still works as a whole, but I’m pretty happy about the outcome.
I’ll post a recording (either of the premiere or of me playing it) here when one is available.
I am very pleased to announce that I was selected as one of the three winners of Chatham Baroque‘s Composers Competition along with Moon Young Ha and Lansing McLoskey. We’ll all be writing a piece for this trio of baroque violin, viola da gamba, and theorbo/baroque guitar to be premiered in Pittsburgh in the fall of 2012. For those of you who don’t know what a theorbo is, check out this video of the group and also notice what a badass violinist Andrew Fouts is.
Baroque counterpoint (especially Bach’s) is one of the major foundations of my work (including the Build music). So, I’m very excited to take that aspect of my composition back to its roots and figure out how to write for these instruments that are new to me. Also, I’m really looking forward to visiting Pittsburgh, where I’ve never been.
I added a few live recordings of pieces to the works page today and will be adding more soon. For now it is 2003′s Plus Minus (live recording by Eric Huebner in 2010), 2005′s Ghost in the Machine (live recording by the Calder Quartet in 2005) and 2009′s Anchor (studio recording by Build and live video by the California EAR Unit in 2009). Enjoy!