WORK DETAILS 

– below find complete information on each work. please contact me for scores. –

Vierzehn Kanons, BWV 1087: ‘Realizations and Elaborations on J.S. Bach’ › 2019
bassoon, violin, piano | 12:00
premiere: Jensen Ling, Lilit Hartunian, & composer; February 3, 2019 at Boston Conservatory

mvts:
1. Canon simplex
2. all’ rovescio
3. Beede vorigen Canones zugelich, motu recto e contrario
3b. evolutio *
4b. motu contrario e recto: evolutio *
4. motu contrario e recto
5. Canon duplex a 4
6. Canon simplex über besagtes Fundament a 3
6b. evolutio *
7. Idem a 3
8. Canon simplex a 3, il soggetto in Alto
8b. evolutio *
8. Canon simplex a 3, il soggetto in Alto
9. Canon in unisono post semifusam a 3
10a. Alio modo, per syncopationes et per ligaturas a 2
10b. Evolutio
10c. Recto e Evolutio *
11. Canon duplex übers Fundament a 5
11b. evolutio *
12. Canon duplex über besagte Fundamental-Noten a 5
13. Canon triplex a 6
15. Canon triplex a 6 *
14. Canon a 4 per Augmentationem et Diminutionem

* denotes elaboration

A Human Textile Pattern to Stop you from Yawning › 2018
bassoon, viola, piano | 22:00 | for Ludovico Ensemble
premiere: Ludovico Ensemble; December 11, 2018 at St. Paul’s Church, Brookline MA

n o t e s

A Human Textile Pattern to Stop you from Yawning is named for a woodblock from 1842 print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. It takes Kuniyoshi's humor and decorative impulse as its inspiration.

'Come with me' › 2018
chamber opera excerpt to libretto by Franny Zhang | 13:00 | for Guerilla Opera
[voices: soprano, baritone; instrumental quartet: bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, vibraphone, viola]
premiere: Guerilla Opera; June 13, 2018 at Club Oberon, Cambridge MA

White Flower › 2018
violin, cello | 11:15 for Markus Placci and Rhonda Rider
premiere: Placci & Rider; April 6, 2018 at Boston Conservatory, Faculty Chamber Series

n o t e s

White Flower is the title of a 1960 painting by Agnes Martin. Martin's work makes reference to weaving and textiles, and implies a relationship with the applied arts; her paintings are o#en similar to one another, self-similar within themselves, and reminiscent of decorative patterns.

Canon, as a musical form, is analogous to weaving in its reliance upon careful construction, interlocking of strands, and building of a texture out of the simple relationships of points and lines. "is piece is an "improvisation" on the weaving process, just as Martin's work articulates an affinity to patterning and decorative arts without adopting the strict procedures.

Undulating Herringbone › 2017
cimbalom | 8:15 | for Nicholas Tolle
premiere: Nicholas Tolle; December 9, 2017 at The Record Company, Boston MA

another ocean › 2017
septet | 11:15 | for ensemble mise-en
[instrumentation: alto flute, contrabass clarinet, trombone, percussion, piano, violin, double bass]
premiere: mise-en; May 26, 2017 at Mise En Place, Brooklyn NY

n o t e s

Mori Ogai's 1911 novel Gan (Wild Geese) adopts a structure which, if that narrative were governed by the desires and needs of the characters—here isolation, aspiration, love—would project aimlessness, but which in Ogai's writing mirrors the searching of his actors for meaning and form in their lives, and as such thrives on patience. There is vast distance between the characters. Ogai loosely weaves them together, such that they are always in contact, if only in the most peripheral way. another ocean adopts some of this structure and relationship of materials, although with greater interrelationships and similarities between constituent parts.

de los Álamos › 2017
soprano, toy piano | 3:45 | for Felicia Chen and Robert Fleitz
anonymous text
premiere: Chen & Fleitz; April 8, 2017 at Boston Conservatory

wave figment 1a  ›  2017
piano w/ sine wave | 1:30 | for Music of Reality
premiere: Sophia Subbayya Vastek; April 26, 2017 at The Armory, Somerville MA

Weft › 2017
violin, obbligato objects | 13:00 | for Lilit Hartunian
premiere: Hartunian & composer; April 1, 2017 at New School of Music, Cambridge MA

Pari  ›  2016
cello | 6:30 | for Rhonda Rider
mvts: I. Brome; II. Mariposa; III. Seed; IV. Grama
premiere: Rhonda Rider; March 17, 2016 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

Commissioned by Rhonda Rider as part of her residency at the Petrified Forest National Park, Pari takes its movement titles from flora native to the park: brome hay and blue grama grasses, mariposa lilies, and the seed fern Ginkgo. Delicate, and often unremarkable, these plants thrive in the largely dry areas just beyond where a river meets its shore.

Pari is written for and dedicated to Rhonda Rider, whose devotion to the links between artifice and the natural is so inspiring.

solm › 2016
bass clarinet, marimba, tape | 11:10 | for Transient Canvas
premiere: Transient Canvas; October 4, 2016 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

I spent part of the summer of 2016 in Japan, where I hardly speak the language and can understand only the most fundamental words for functional communication. The effect of being there is that words cease to be language and become sound, subtle differentiated but absent of expression. Meaning is lost, while the sound acquires form, gesture, and texture.

solm aims for such an experience in music, dealing in the familiar, repetitious, submerged and veiled. The performers navigate the landscape of the score among self-similar aural signals, carving a path through the surface of the sound.

Language of Flowers › 2016
    soprano, nine instruments | 12:25 | texts by Motojiro Kajii | for Tony Arnold and the Composers Conference
[instrumentation: soprano; ensemble: flute/picc, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, vibraphone, piano, violin viola, cello]
premiere: Tony Arnold, James Baker, Composers Conference Ensemble; July 30, 2016 at Wellesley College, MA

n o t e s

In three sections: ‘Under the Cherry Trees’ | ‘Sub Rosa’ | ‘Lemon’

Language of Flowers takes as its text excerpts from two short stories by the early 20th-century Japanese author Motojiro Kajii. The first, “Under the Cherry Trees,” is an exercise in controlled desperation, as the protagonist confronts death and the transience of life around him. “Lemon” is quite the opposite—a frantic, off the rails spiral into the surreal fantasies of a narrator consumed by an obsession with frivolous activities and decorative objects. Taken together, these two project a strange dichotomy: the resistance against emotion in the face of decay, juxtaposed with the willful descent into frenzied distraction from suffering in the external world. The title refers to the Victorian practice of applying plant symbolism in painting, literature, and high society activities, as well as to the Japanese equivalent of ‘hanakotoba.’

Many thanks to Mahoko Taniguchi, who graciously provided transliterations for the texts.

Plum Gatherer › 2016
soprano, cimbalom | 11:45 | for Ludovico Ensemble
text by Edna St. Vincent Millay
premiere: Ludovico Ensemble; May 2, 2016 at St. Paul’s Church, Brookline MA

Dust › 2016
    septet | 4:30 | for Chamber Cartel
[instrumentation: piccolo, percussion, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass]
premiere: Chamber Cartel; November 7, 2015 at the Goat Farm Arts Center, Atlanta GA

Troubled Water › 2015
opera in seven scenes to libretto by Frederick Choi | 72:00 | for Guerilla Opera
[voices: soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone; instrumental quartet: clarinet/bass, soprano/tenor saxophones, percussion, violin]
premiere production: Guerilla Opera, dir. Allegra Libonati; September 18-25, 2015 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

Troubled Water follows a storyline from the life of late 19th-century Japanese author Higuchi Natsuko (Ichiyou). Considered the first female writer of the Japanese modern era, Higuchi was educated in classical writing traditions, and these influences became significant aspects of her work. Woven into the story of the author are scenes from her stories which reflect and amplify Higuchi’s experience of the world she lived in.

A Poppy of Erasure › 2015
    violin, viola, bass clarinet | 6:50 | for Dinosaur Annex
premiere: Dinosaur Annex; April 26, 2015 at MIT Museum, Cambridge MA

n o t e s

A Poppy of Erasure is a musical response to artist Nathalie Miebach's "The Ghostly Crew of the Andrea Gail," a drawing which doubles as musical score. "Andrea Gail," like much of Miebach's work, establishes parameters which she derives from meteorological data—in this case the Halloween Storm and Hurricane Grace which sunk a fishing vessel off the coast of Gloucester, MA, in 1991. I used data from Miebach's work as it is represented in her score to build the skeleton of my trio. The skin of the music is a freer interpretation of "Andrea Gail" and the story surrounding it.

The title refers to a popular bit of wordplay in 17th-century Japanese poetry; the word keshi means both "to erase" and "poppy", playing on the impermanence of human action and the transience of nature.

Loess › 2015
alto saxophone, piano | 14:00 | for Philipp Stäudlin and Yoko Hagino
premiere: Stäudlin & Hagino; February 22, 2015 at Distler Hall at Tufts University, Medford MA

n o t e s

I frequently take inspiration from the natural world, and particularly humans' relationships to nature. Nature confronts us with its power to resist concepts of beauty; I am not interested in the cultivation of nature, but in its pulling away from human apprehension. Loess is a type of windborne sediment that leaves unusual, porous deposits where it accumulates. The music in this piece drifts and clusters, floats and becomes heavy.

Silt › 2014
violin, marimba | 11:25 | for Lilit Hartunian and Matt Sharrock
premiere: Hartunian & Sharrock; April 24, 2015 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

I have written several pieces dealing with peripheral natural phenomena or humans’ fraught relationships with organic material. Silt does not attempt to allegorize our perception of the mineral world, but instead depicts the behavior of nature operating at the margins of our consciousness.

Knife › 2013
flute, soprano saxophone | 4:30
premiere: Conetube Reedwhistle; March 23, 2014 at Boston Conservatory, Faculty Recital Series

n o t e s

Knife is divided into two mirrored sections, separated by a brief section that functions as a catalyst: 'Flesh,' 'Knife,' and 'Meat.' Virtuosic throughout, the playing is more traditional during 'Flesh,' while during 'Meat' the performers' bodies become more prominent as instruments themselves.

Oceans: waves merge with the bright sky › 2013
    5 cellos | 12:00 | for Cello Ensemble XTC
premiere: Cello Ensemble XTC; April 9, 2013 at Half Moon Hall Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, Japan

n o t e s

Oceans belongs to a small set of my pieces in which the aimlessness of the music betrays a traditional musical experience. Here the music drifts from stillness to violence with disregard for expectation. I love the feeling that a work of art communicates not what the artist desires, but only what he is able to perceive; the work, like nature, is a piece of something far more vast than we can imagine.

This piece is partly based on the Sea Organ (morske orgulje) of Zadar, Croatia. A boardwalk covers immense underwater chambers which react acoustically to the waves against the shore. The sounds are projected above-ground for pedestrians to hear, and the result is amazingly beautiful—throbbing, gently rocking harmonies stretch and become warped at the whim of the ocean. Recordings of this sculpture inspired the harmonies and strained intonation of this piece.

Another inspiration is a poem by the Japanese poet Fujiwara no Tadamichi:

As I row over the plain
Of the sea and gaze
Into the distance, the waves
Merge with the bright sky.

This poem succinctly conveys the vastness of water, and also the ways in which nature's immensity can disguise itself. Nature both commands attention and rejects it.

Two Dances › 2013
    oboe, violin, cello, piano | 6:00

n o t e s

Two short dances based on old dance forms. The first movement is a sarabande on the ancient Folia; the second movement is a ciaconna in the original rollicking sense of the word.

Millay Songs › in progress
    baritone, piano | for Jonathan Nussman
texts by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Hyacinth › 2013
flute, piano | 5:10 | for Bethanne Walker and Marti Epstein
premiere: Walker & Epstein; March 29, 2014 on Fifth Floor Collective series, at Community Music Center of Boston

n o t e s

Like many of my pieces inspired by flowers, Hyacinth adopts the form of the plant. Here there is a central stalk from which small branches shoot off. The blossoms are densest closer to the stalk, but they thin as they grow outward. Hyacinth is dedicated with gratitude to Bethanne and Marti.

Where I’m Likely To Find It › 2010-2012
violin | 24:00 | gift for HyeRan Kim
mvts: I. if not; II. the wind; III. the sound
premiere: Gabriela Diaz; November 8, 2012 at the Boston Conservatory New Music Festival

n o t e s

This piece takes its title from the eponymous short story by Haruki Murakami. The story is about searching for something seemingly impossible to find, and not knowing even where to start. My piece is about searching— the aspiration, resignation, patience, determination, waiting. Composing sometimes gives me the feeling that I am trying to uncover something lost, without even knowing what or where.

Still Life, 2009 › 2012
    clarinet, violin, percussion | 7:35 | for Equilibrium Ensemble
premiere: Equilibrium Ensemble; May 17, 2012 at Alpha Gallery, Boston MA

n o t e s

This trio is written after Hyman Bloom's last still life painting, from 2009, shortly before he passed away. I try to reproduce the way Bloom's objects transform, recurring gently altered in different parts of the canvas. I am also drawn to the painting's use of gravity and light, which seem to contradict one another, but here combine to potent effect.

I might be wrong › 2012
    english horn, cello, marimba, piano | 24:15 | for Ludovico Ensemble
premiere: Ludovico Ensemble; October 10, 2012 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

I might be wrong is my attempt at affirming what I have always hinted to myself: that being on the right side of every question is detrimental to art.

Several movements of this piece are based on the sculptures of Juan Muñoz, whose works invite participation by the viewer, but prevent physical engagement with the space bound by the work. Many of his sculptures are of people holding silent conversations, physically distanced from the viewer. The beauty of Muñoz's works is their ability to shift the subject of the sculptures from the figures themselves (who become simple materials) to the viewer himself. Isn't this also the purpose of music?

Waves › 2012
amplified bass clarinet, amplified marimba | 7:20 | for Transient Canvas
premiere: Transient Canvas; September 29, 2012 for Equilibrium Concert Series, at Davis Square Theatre, Somerville MA

n o t e s

Waves, like many of my pieces, is a gradual transformation from one state to another. I often write music with agency, moving from one place to another with a sense of motivation. Waves, however, is a changing object.

I took the title from a Japanese tanka poem by Fujiwara no Tadamichi, printed below. I wanted to convey the immensity of the ocean through amplification of the instruments, by which they seem closer to our ears. So much of the magic in the sounds made by marimba and bass clarinet happens at a very low volume; I love the constant sense that the scene could turn dramatic and violent, just like the ocean. In the end, the piece has not merged so much as it has scattered and fused, much like a waterfall might eventually become a still pool.

As I row over the plain
Of the sea and gaze
Into the distance, the waves
Merge with the bright sky

—Fujiwara no Tadamichi

Toward › 2012
flute, piano | 7:25 | for NaYoung Ham
premiere: Ham & composer; December 1, 2012 for Acoustic Uproar series, at Lily Pad, Cambridge MA

n o t e s

Toward is the third duo I have composed for Nayoung, and in this one I wanted a chance to perform alongside my great friend. It is the mere suggestion of direction and movement, an implied work of music.

Five Fallen Leaves › 2012
clarinet, violin | 7:00 | for Box Not Found
in five untitled movements
premiere: Box Not Found; April 6, 2013 at Boston University Center for the Arts

n o t e s

Five Fallen Leaves is a brief set of miniatures. The first four represent decay, and the final one suggests regrowth. I mean this symbolism to represent cyclical nature, not triumph over negative force. The first four movements present unsustainable material which quickly disintegrates; the final movement collects the dust and reassembles it.

In › 2011
    bass/alto flute, percussion quartet | 25:45 | for Ludovico Ensemble
premiere: Ludovico Ensemble; January 19, 2012 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

Poets Edna St. Vincent Millay and E.E. Cummings both wrote extensively on nature and, in particular, Spring. Both reveal distinct attitudes about humans’ relationship to nature, and these ideas guided my composition of In.

Opal › 2011
    piano 4-hands, vibraphone marimba | 13:30 | for Sinopia Quartet
premiere: Sinopia Quartet; October 19, 2011 at IBEAM, Brooklyn NY

n o t e s

Like many of my recent pieces, Opal has a simple two-part structure, the first embodying an obsessive or hyperactive fixation with sound, and the second serving as a sort of reconciliation. In Opal this structure dwells on color, and the two halves explore this element of sound aggressively through rhythm and register (the first part), and cautiously through harmony and pacing (the second).

An opal is a rare gemstone prized for its paneling of colors which seem to emanate from the center. Ironically, for all its value the opal is made up of nothing more than simple quartz with water trapped inside, refracting light that passes through it. Maybe a similar "paneling" of sounds can be heard in my piece.

Integrity › 2011
percussion | 5:20 | for Masako Kunimoto
premiere: Masako Kunimoto; April 29, 2011 at SUNY Purchase, NY

n o t e s

Integrity is inspired by architect Tadao Ando's building "Church of the Light" in Ibaraki, Japan. Rather than conceive of the piece in terms of traditional musical form, I thought of its duration as an open space. The music is written in real time, without rhythm, by placing notes spatially on the page. To follow Ando's design, which features a cross formed by the negative space in his reinforced concrete walls, Integrity's sounds accumulate in the form of a cross on the page. My piece contains two crosses, one a mirror of the other. For Ando walls are of foremost importance, while the space bound by them is more freely experienced. Integrity explores the space between those walls.

Integrity was written for Masako Kunimoto as the second movement of a larger work composed jointly with Kevin Warren, Masaki Hasebe, and Jason Huffman. Each composer contributed a movement as part of a commission. The premiere was given on April 29th, 2011, in Purchase, NY. Integrity is dedicated with gratitude and love to Masako.

Poppies › 2011
    string trio | 3:40
premiere: Wen-Tso Chen, Chung-Han Hsiao, and Anjo Inacay, September 23, 2011 for the Open Theatre Project Launch Party at Zumix, Boston MA

n o t e s

Poppies is a loosely canonic piece, mirroring the spiraling, circling forms of poppy flowers.

Rings of Winter Harbor › 2011
    eleven instruments | 8:00 | for Alea III & Theodore Antoniou
[ensemble 1: english horn, bassoon, french horn, trumpet, trombone, cello, double bass]
[ensemble 2: harp, vibraphone, percussion, harpsichord]
premiere: Alea III & Theodor Antoniou; March 28, 2011 at Boston University’s Tsai Center

n o t e s

I am attracted to the relationship between music and space. Metaphorically, the "space" of this piece is the surface of water in a dormant harbor. This image comes from Yukio Mishima's novel The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea, in which crucial episode takes place on the docks of an industrial port during winter, though the music bears no other connection to the book's plot.

Spatially, my piece is divided into two groups, the quartet located close the audience, and the septet seated farther back on the stage. Over the course of the piece they execute an exchange of two musical ideas- a sustained Bb, and a web of short, nervous sounds. The piece is sculpted in waves, heard in the rising and falling of dynamics, and the overall level of activity. The passing of the sustained pitch from the back of the stage to the front is an object approaching slowly over the surface of the water, while the receding of the pointillistic material is the vanishing reflections of light on the harbor.

Black Eyed Susan › 2011
vibraphone, piano | 4:45 | for Masako Kunimoto
in two untitled canonic movements

n o t e s

Black-eyed Susan is a gift of two canons for Masako Kunimoto. The first is metered, strict, and clear in direction; the second delicate and fragile, gently unwinding. The black-eyed susan is the state flower of Maryland, where we met.

A Columbine › 2010
extended glockenspiel | 9:15 | for Trevor Saint
premiere: Trevor Saint; December 1 at Gate to Heaven Synagogue, Madison WA

n o t e s

This piece, written for percussionist Trevor Saint’s new extended-range glockenspiel, takes its form, rhythmic ordering, and pitches from the Fibonacci sequence. Plants such as the columbine grow based on the same sequence of numbers, often displaying radial symmetry in groups of five. I find that as I look at a columbine my gaze is focused at the center, and then gradually spirals outwards. Similarly, this piece begins with the densest section, and slowly thins as it reaches the edges of growth.

Hands and Lips of Wind › 2010
soprano, cello | 10:00 | texts by Octavio Paz | for Diagenesis
mvts: I. Nightfall; II. In the Lodi Gardens; III. Exclamación; IV. Con los Ojos Cerrados; V. Madrugada al Raso / Daybreak
premiere: Diagenesis; May 11, 2011, St. Peter’s Church, Helena MT

n o t e s

Octavio Paz' poems often display enormously evocative imagery contained in few words. I wanted to bring that spirit to my setting of the five poems in this piece. In particular, these poems move effortlessly between images of light and darkness, motion and stillness. These ideas are potentially very musical. My settings approach the poems as complete entities, emphasizing the prevailing affect of each poem.

Everything All At Once › 2010
percussion duo | 14:00 | for Karlyn Mason and Matt Sharrock
mvts: I. Cáceres; II. Salamanca
public premiere: Mason & Sharrock; May 9, 2011 at Denkelbaum Concert Hall at University of Maryland

n o t e s

Cáceres is a small city in southwestern Extremadura, in Spain, a poor state known for its cork trees. Cáceres is suffering a lengthy economic recession, and modernization is spotty– within a small area one can see the old town with the cathedral, the tourist strip, the mall, the business district, and so on. There is a feeling of reluctant compromise between all elements of this city, and despite its beauty I couldn't help but experience the culture as self-contradictory.

Salamanca, in Castilla la Mancha in central Spain, is a town where the modern has thoroughly meshed with the ancient. Alongside the Plaza Mayor and the university (one of the world's oldest), sit trendy clothing stores and nightclubs. What I loved most was that Salamanca gave off no air of contradiction; instead, it felt like I was simultaneously visiting two different times. The notions of contradictions, multiplicity, and unity form the basis of this piece.

Three Stones › 2010
septet | 35:00 | for Ludovico Ensemble
[instrumentation: flute (alto/picc), clarinet/bass, percussion, piano, violin, viola, cello]
mvts: I. Malachite; II. Agate; III. Bismuth
premiere: Ludovico Ensemble & Jeffrey Means, cond; March 22, 2011 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

The three stones which provide the titles of the movements of this piece have special meanings to humans. Malachite was once prized for its supposed medicinal purposes, and was aggressively mined. Agate was once considered a precious stone for its banded patterns, but because of its frequent natural imperfections it is no longer widely sought after. Bismuth is a synthetic metal manufactured primarily for industrial uses, and its brilliant colors are purely incidental.

Each of these stones has held a position of great importance to humans at some point. My piece is constructed out of canons which represent the relationship of pursuit that we share with the stones. The canons do not follow conventional rules- the first is in rhythmic unison, while the pitches are ordered canonically. The remaining ones treat rhythm flexibly, but each employs a single melody.

Autumn Voices › 2010
    nine instruments | 12:00 | for Callithumpian Consort
[instrumentation: bass flute, e-flat clarinet, 2 percussion, piano, 2 violin, viola, cello]
premiere: Callithumpian Consort & Jeffrey Means, cond; June 19, 2010 at New England Conservatory

n o t e s

Over the past few years I have written several pieces which use the metaphor of a natural environment as an organizing theme. In these pieces the interaction of musical materials is symbolic of the relationship between inhabitants of an ecosystem. In this way, the focus of these pieces is on the residents of the environment. These pieces all have a moralizing aspect, as I have incorporated metaphors of humans’ relationships to the world around us. Autumn Voices takes a different approach to examining our relationship with nature. Instead of creating metaphors, this piece tries to capture expressively the feeling of a location at a specific point in time. The issue of relationships with nature is still present, but now it is my personal, subjective sense for the world around me.

Autumn Voices still contains musical materials whose interaction pushes the piece forward in time. There are two primary motives—one ambling melody painted with the different colors of the ensemble; the other is a quick scalar figure which always appears in specific pairs of instruments. Throughout the piece certain timbral combinations create points of reference, as the music returns to them often. Bass flute is often paired with either snare drum or marimba, clarinet and vibraphone form a duo, as do violin 1 and the piano’s right hand, etc.

No Constellation › 2010
    13 instruments, 4 tpt, 4 perc | 21:00 | Master’s thesis
[ensemble: flute, oboe, 2 clarinet/bass, bassoon, french horn, trombone, guitar, harp, celesta, violin, viola, cello, double bass]
[spatial ensemble: 4 trumpets, 4 percussion]
premiere: students of the Boston Conservatory & Russell Ger, cond; March 20, 2010 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

No Constellation began as the culmination of a series of pieces I have written over the last two years, all bearing the subtitle “Ecosystems.” The unifying idea behind these pieces is musical development along sonic lines rather than conventional notions of form and direction. In this series I have kept the metaphor of natural ecosystems as a guide. Drama in these pieces comes from interacting sonic material, as well as the relationship between players, instruments, sound and silence.... Tied to the notions of nature are issues of humans’ relationship with the natural world.

Stars serve as the metaphorical ecosystem in this work. Humans’ relationship to stars is generally symbolic; since we cannot access them, we assign meanings and names to them. This is our way of demystifying the incomprehensible and giving it a manageable allure. The star metaphor plays out in several ways in this piece: for one, the audience is situated in order to surround the audience; for another, the ensemble is often divided into pairs of instruments who claim their own segment of the pitch spectrum. Through these the idea of distance becomes a major aspect of the music.

No Constellation also contains a folksong, on which much of the pitch material is based. “The Water Is Wide” (also known as “O Waly Waly”) is a song of either English or Scottish origin, dating from at least the early 1600s. It contains three verses, and is ostensibly about unfulfilled love. The significance of the song to this piece is that each verse contains imagery of nature and insurmountable distances. If we regard songs as a way of accessing deep emotional reserves, we can see this as an analogy to assigning names to unknowable mysteries. In this way the song is symbolic of humans’ constantly striving but tenuous relationship to distant ecosystems.

Hickory › 2010
guitar, percussion | 6:30 | for Gregory Koenig

n o t e s

The title of this piece refers to a large grove of hickory I recently saw in Westchester County, NY. The trees grew directly upward, with almost no far-reaching branches. Their individuality viewing them up close was not diminished by looking at the grove from a distance.  Instead, the sense of a roughly homogenous grove full of beautifully unique trees was a feeling I do not often experience. I was strongly affected by their verticality and their silence, and by their gentle swaying motion. I want this music to contain something of the same feeling.

Fugue in C Major › 2010
piano | 5:40

In the Morning, Light Gathered Outside My Window › 2009
cello | 9:40 | for Jennifer Bewerse
premiere: Jennifer Bewerse; July 15, 2010 at SoundSCAPE Festival, Maccagno, Italy

n o t e s

The cello is, for me, a very sensitive instrument—versatile and expressive. Its range of sonic possibilities lets the cellist focus intently on the smallest aspects of sounds. The process composing is a kind of ceremony for me, even if it changes from piece to piece, day to day. I compose best in the early morning, often while walking. For this reason, my composing is tied to my sense of space and location. The piece I compose is an environment, an ecosystem, and the sound is the path I find myself heading down once inside.

Recently I have woken up every day around sunrise, and I am immediately aware of sunlight moving past my south-facing window. This piece was composed during these early morning hours. The largely diatonic music at the beginning is centered on the D and G strings, although the material is primarily coloristic. It develops in waves, gradually introducing the C string and eventually taking flight on the A string, guiding a gradual fade from blurry gray to clear white.

Not I › 2009
marimba + responsive lighting system | 11:10 | for Masako Kunimoto
premiere: Masako Kunimoto; July 16, 2010 at SoundSCAPE Festival, Maccagno, Italy

n o t e s

Samuel Beckett’s Not I was written over the course of 12 days in 1972. The monologue, performed entirely in the dark except for an illuminated mouth hovering well above stage level, tells the story of a girl who awoke one morning unable to speak. After years of agony, incapable of verbal communication, she awakes one day to find she cannot stop speaking. At the time of the monologue she is an old woman, afraid that if she ever stops she will never resume again.

Beckett told Jessica Tandy, who gave the premiere, that the mouth was “an organ of emission, without intellect.” The play should hit the audience’s “nerves,” he said. It certainly does—in performances I have seen viewers whose distress at watching the monologue unfold equalled that of the woman.

In my piece the marimbist fights a losing battle against silence and darkness. The lightbulb suspended over the marimba is meant to conjure the dramatic lighting of the original play, but is also a symbol for a controlling power greater than the protagonist. The music pulls the player along urgently but without direction. Musical motives often come into conflict, forcing a “split personality” to form within the performer. The narrative fits well with the marimba, which is such a visual instrument, until it is ultimately lost from sight.

Map of My Room › 2009
    flute, bass clarinet, violin, cimbalom | 11:00 | for Ludovico Ensemble
premiere: Ludovico Ensemble; February 4, 2010 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

This music deals with the deeply personal environment of the space where I live. The piece acts as an examination, and thus traces no development. The piece progresses as if following a map—the path is linear, but not straight. The balance between tension and stasis is symbolic of my understanding of the relationship I have cultivated with my small environment.

Following this contour from disorder to understanding, the music begins with a foundational harmony which gradually dissolves into looser—but still related—harmonies that serve as vehicles for textural transformation. The harmonic tension follows a path from greatest at the outset to least at the end. Each musical event is like a new angle of viewing an object; it retains its essential shape, but offers new understanding. As musical events merge into one, the objects blend together, eventually giving way to a holistic sense of the musical environment.

The Botany of Desire 1b › 2009
clarinet, vibraphone | 10:35 | for Ariana Warren and Masako Kunimoto
premiere: Warren & Kunimoto; September 14, 2009 at An Die Musik, Baltimore MD

Bellows Pumped, the Bottom Approaches › 2009
piano 4-hands | 12:00 | for Marti Epstein
mvts: I. bellows pumped; II. ploughs unhitched; III. cadences; IV. plateau… V. …on the ground
public premiere: Ensemble SurPlus; June 2, 2010 at University of Buffalo, NY

n o t e s

In this work, I wanted to write music where energy does not operate like a pendulum. Each section is either an expulsion of energy, and intake, or the plateau at the bottom. The experience of writing these was an immersion in sounds, not music. This feels spiritual, and is as close as I have come to a religious experience. When I write sounds that I love, I feel my heartbeat and breathe change, in regularity and intensity. I want this piece to read as an exhalation—the moment of anticipation before the intake of vital air.

I ain’t gonna be worried no more › 2009
violin, marimba | 7:15 | for Matt Sharrock and Jin Lee
in four untitled movements

n o t e s

Composing this piece, I wanted to employ the Baroque notion of a single emotional context which runs through a piece. Each movement has its own sonic environment, and even if they are not imbued with specific emotional content, each maintains its own mood throughout. The first and third movements aim to combine the marimba and violin into a composite instrument, while the second and fourth play them off of each other. In the first, the marimba's high notes are colored by the violin harmonics. The second movement presents a soaring violin melody hovering above blurry marimba clusters. In the third, the two join to extend each other's gestures. The final movement is a blues, where the marimba takes on the role of temporarily freezing time with its drones.

The title is taken from a song of the same name by American blues singer Sleepy John Estes.

It has been many years since I first anticipated this stage of my life, during a hurricane, with my parents, surrounded by strangers › 2009
wind ensemble (15 instruments), 3 violas
[instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 french horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, 3 offstage violas]
public premiere: Boston Conservatory Sinfonietta; April 11, 2012 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

Years ago I waited out a hurricane in a shelter on Cape Cod. There is very little about that day which I now remember, but I have the inescapable sense that my mind is now configured to orient its compass toward and handful of moments in the past, and more strangely, possibly toward moments still to come.

The germinating idea behind this piece was the intersection between anticipation and recollection. In music these are powerful tools for the composer. This music is self- referential, with sounds recurring throughout the piece unpredictably. I hope these trigger a sense of recognition, both of past and of future.

Both across the span of the piece but also across a larger stretch of time there are musical references—a motive from Sibelius’ 5th Symphony makes its way into the music. In my experience of the piece this musical anchor lends a level of implication and deepening memory which cannot otherwise be created within such a short piece. These memories and elusive predictions are all compasses pointing their shaky needles to now.

The Botany of Desire › 2008 / 2017
clarinet, piano | 10:35 | for Ariana Warren
public premiere: Rane Moore & Nic Gerpe; June 24, 2008 at New England Conservatory, Boston MA

what is not, is not › 2008
solo chimes + vibraphone | 9:00
premiere: Trevor Saint; May 2, 2010 at University of Fairbanks, AK

n o t e s

Parmenides had the reputation of a philosophical prankster. His explanation of motion came from his assertions that what is, is, and that what is not, is not. This claim—that there is nothing which “is not,”—is empowering when considering the walls we set up between music and its listeners. In the absence of a message for the listener, a message is made within the person hearing the music. Parmenides says that no matter how hard I try to control meaning in my music, it is always liberating itself, it is always refusing to be made null, it is always reaching to its audience and saying something. Everything is silence, and yet there is no silence.

American Temple › 2008
    mezzo-soprano, cello, percussion, piano | 12:20 | for Ludovico Ensemble
texts by George Albon, Alan Lightman, and Achille la Grave
premiere: Ludovico Ensemble; February 16, 2009 at Boston Conservatory

n o t e s

The title of the piece refers to Dr. Temple Grandin, a researcher in industrial meat production practices. The music is inspired by learning about her.