Sean William Calhoun | Composer and pianist


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Sonata for Tuba and Piano (2017) – 14'

I. Monolith
II. Leviathan
III. "an abode of quiet"
The Sonata, composed for tubist Jisang Lee, begins with "Monolith," in which the tuba draws a lugubrious theme among tolling and chiming chords in the piano. A somewhat warmer theme is introduced, but keeps being overtaken by the first theme. The movement ends with the tuba sinking into the depths as the piano returns to its knells. The tuba launches into "Leviathan," with dramatic leaping figures that the piano then takes up before forming the line among them into a more flowing melody. As the urgent motion settles to a low rumbling, the second theme from the first movement enters in the piano, with the tuba following in inversion. While the leaping figures cut off the interlude abruptly, the second theme returns near the end of the movement, building up to a dramatic climax involving all the main themes, before collapsing. The final movement, “an abode of quiet” begins empty, with stark high chords descending over deep bass notes. Themes from the preceding movements coalesce and form some of the most lyrical music in the sonata, but with a bleak landscape never far. The final movement’s title is a quote from the webcomic Stand Still, Stay Silent, by Minna Sundberg. See work's page

RE:Sound, for flute and clarinet (2017) – 13'

I. RE:Bound
II. RE:Verse
III. RE:Volt
IV. RE:Form
V. RE:New
RE:Sound was composed for the duo RE: New Music, comprised of Robin Meiksins (flute), and Emily Mehigh (clarinet). In the first movement, RE:Bound, notes and lines ricochet off of each other, forming into melodies passed between the instruments. RE:Verse is a slow, lyrical palindromic movement. RE:Volt begins violently, with jagged patterns in unisons between the instruments, which begin to dissolve into disoriented figures. The conflict between the disjunct rigidity of the beginning with the chaos of the interruptions builds as the two combine until the music spirals out of control. In RE:Form, the instruments pick through and reassemble broken pieces left after the previous movement’s explosion. RE:New begins much the way RE:Bound did, but adds recollections from the subsequent movements, bringing the piece to a vigorous close. See work's page

Abyss Lustre, for flute and harp (2017) – 13'

I. Evocation
II. Phantasm
III. Submersion
Abyss Lustre, composed for Emma Resmini and Héloïse Carlean-Jones, begins with Evocation, with winding lines emerging from caliginous murmurings, and with a lyrical melody forming and fraying amidst a stark landscape. Phantasm swirls, flickers, and pulses, developing a four-note motive along with the winding figures from the first movement, and a memory of its melody. The motion grows increasingly turbulent until it reaches the thunderous climax that begins Submersion. From this zenith, the lyrical melody descends, sinking ever deeper until it returns to the void whence it emerged. See work's page

Fluctuations, for violin, bass clarinet, and marimba (2017) – 25'

I. Forest
II. Frost
III. Flow
IV. Fallen
V. Fuoco
Fluctuations, composed for the trio F-PLUS, begins with Forest, a movement of running lines growing from the marimba’s initial figurations, at times fracturing between instruments or coalescing into longer melodies. It spins away upward, landing in the stark second movement Frost, featuring a marimba solo accompanied by sustained violin and bass clarinet notes in the outer registers. Flow is rapid quasi-dance in alternating meters flying faster and faster until it collapses into the Follen, the longest movement. The violin and bass clarinet play a slow duet supported by rolled marimba chords, building to a powerful climax, then fading back, ending with an echo of Frost. A bass clarinet solo heralds the beginning of Fuoco, an energetic, rhythmic movement that draws together themes and motives from the preceding movements. See work's page

Divisions and Diversions: four pieces and an encore for solo alto saxophone (2017) – 13'

I. Prelude
II. Skirr
III. Apart
IV. Updog
Encore: Alternative Sax
Divisions and Diversions is a set of four miniatures for solo alto sax composed for Zach Stern. The Prelude opens the set with a tranquil melody. Skirr follows with rapid figures in the middle register interrupted by staccato accents above and below. Apart is hushed, with lyrical but disjunct figures, occasionally shifting into otherworldly multiphonics. The last movement, Updog, attempts to answer what it is. See work's page

Trellis, for chamber orchestra (2017) – 7'

Trellis is about soli — not unaccompanied soli, but points at which one instrument acts as the soloist of the ensemble. These vary from the conventionally virtuosic (such as the violin’s solo) to the more lyrical (such as the clarinet’s solo), and include two duos along the way (flute with bassoon, and both percussion together). Interspersed among these soli are swirling chords in the full ensemble. See work's page for a perusal score

Snowdrift, for harp and piano (2017) – 5'

Snowdrift takes the commonalities of the harp and piano to weave them around each other in similar patterns, while also bringing out their differences — the harp’s greater ease with harmonics and the piano’s greater ease with repeating notes, the harp’s softer attack and the piano’s wider range. It returns repeatedly to the floating harmony from which it begins, and to a reflective melody often split between the harp and piano. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Metamorphose, for solo flute (2017) – 4'

Metamorphose was composed for the flutist Robin Meiksins. A print of Escher’s Metamorphosis II appears frequently in the background of Robin’s videos, so I took it as the model for this piece. A (partially arbitrary) system was used to assign notes and articulations to letters to begin the piece as Escher’s woodcut begins, with the word METAMORPHOSE. From there it follows Escher’s development into crossed words, checkers, scurrying creatures (salamanders?), hexagons, a honeycomb with larvae that emerge as bees, which in turn continue morphing into interlocking patterns of, fish, birds, cubes, which spread into a coastal city, a chessboard, then return via checkers to the original METAMORPHOSE. This model gives the piece a continuous form, in which sections blend into others, with segments of the original METAMORPHOSE theme recurring in various guises, particularly a staccato leaping figure associated with geometric figures (squares, hexagons, cubes, etc.). See work's page

Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano (2017) – 8'

I. Dodecahedron
II. Recitative
III. Combobulation
The first movement of the Sonatina, Dodecahedron, is in a compact sonata form, with closely related (but rhythmically distinct) first and second themes, and a closing theme of leaping octaves. The second movement is a Recitative, with a declamatory clarinet line amid resonating piano harmonies. Combobulation is a lively swing that brings the Sonatina to its close. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Sonatina for Baritone Saxophone and Piano (2016) – 7'

I. Arches
II. Jaunt
The Sonatina for Baritone Saxophone was written for saxophonist Ava Oaxaca, to whom it is dedicated. The first movement, Arches, is slow and spacious, exploring the warm, lyrical side of the bari sax. The second movement, Jaunt, is quick and jovial, with a spry theme prone to modulation. See work's page for a perusal score

Filament Canopy, for harp and percussion (2016) – 17'

I. Interlace
II. Bolt
III. Vestiges
Filament Canopy was composed for the Sticks & Strings Duo, comprised of Rosanna Moore (harp) and Trevor Bartlett (percussion). Interlace plays with repeating notes across different timbres and patterns twisting around each other, gradually forming into a theme. Bolt is rapid and rhythmic, throwing the theme from first movement into virtuosic figurations, along with new motives, until it shatters itself. Vestiges begins with void, slowly coalescing into a lilting melody, before fading away. See work's page

Gradients, for sinfonietta (2016) – 10'

The main idea in Gradients is that of harmonies and timbres overlapping with and metamorphosing into each other, much like with color gradients, in which one color turns into another without a clear point of delineation between them. For harmonies, I wanted a sense of harmonic motion, but for the point at which the harmonies shifted to be ambiguous, often pivoting around sustained common tones, so each harmony sounds a bit like the last. The second section takes the title in a rather different direction, with series of vigorous ascending (or occasionally descending) chords ricocheting off of whomps in the bass. A melody (quite unrelated to these ideas) also coalesces gradually through the piece until it forms into a clear statement in the trombone. By the end, all of these elements have come together and are overlapping and switching among each other. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Fred, for solo guitar (2016) – 3'30"

Fred is a brief, virtuosic solo for guitar, composed for and titled by Infinity Willner. See work's page

Silver Awareness, for flute quartet (2016) – 8'

Silver Awareness was composed for the flute quartet Stranded Silver. It was inspired by Katrin Fridriks's painting Silver Awareness. The thick swaths of color surrounded by light trails and spatters of paint are rendered as swirling, fluid lines in the flutes and quick staccato figures. Amidst the color, Fridriks creates plant-like patterns in dark greys and white — a calmer second theme contrasting with the activity of the bright colors. See work's page

Branching, for nay, chang, tanbur, string quartet, and double bass (2016) – 6'

"Branching" was written for the Omnibus Ensemble's workshop "Omnibus Laboratorium: Peabody - Tashkent." One of the themes of the workshop was using some traditional Uzbek instruments — a nay (a type of flute), a tanbur (a plucked string instrument), and a chang (a hammered string instrument), along with Western instruments. Another theme incorporating traditional Maqom ornaments, many of which are microtonal — the Omnibus Ensemble had developed a system to show these in Western notation.
I figured that most people, given a microtonal prompt, would write a slow piece. So I wrote a fast one for contrast. See work's page for a recording

Striation, for flute, violin, horn, and double bass (2016) – 7'30"

Striation was composed for Louna Dekker-Vargas (flute), Zach Travis (horn), Ledah Finck (violin), and Yoshiaki Horiguchi (bass). Most of the material comes from the opening horn melody and a glissando figure introduced in the strings. The title comes from the use of instruments elaborating around a melodic line, branching off from or sustaining notes, creating textures of lines moving together. See work's page for a perusal score

Two Movements for Two Winds and Two Brass, for oboe, clarinet, trumpet, and trombone (2016) – 5'

I. Wind Shear
II. Brass Tacks
Two Movements for Two Winds and Two Brass was written for trumpeter Kate Amrine. The first movement, Wind Shear, is rather austere, with insistent sustained and repeated notes. The second, Brass Tacks, is energetic, with a theme between a dance and a fanfare, interrupted by groups of punching chords. See work's page for a perusal score

Close Enough, for two percussionists on identical sets of four different things (2016) – 4'30"

Close Enough is a short piece about rhythms that are almost the same. See work's page for a perusal score

Vim, for flute and violin (2016) – 4'30"

Vim was composed for The Witches, a duo of Louna Dekker-Vargas (flute) and Ledah Finck (violin). They are a group that also improvises, so I wanted this to be a piece that showed off their skills but didn’t sound like an improvisation (because they could already make that sort of music well without anyone writing it for them). The result was a vigorous and virtuosic showcase for the players both individually and as a duo. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Sonata for Flute and Piano (2016) – 25'

I. Prelude — solo with pedal held
II. Toccata
III. Passacaglia
IV. Gigue
V. Epilogue — with pedal point
The Sonata for Flute and Piano was composed for flutist Emma Resmini. It begins with the flute alone, the piano adding only resonance. In the second movement, the piano enters, throwing the instruments into a tempestuous toccata with rapid melodic leaps in the flute and harmonic shifts in the piano. The third movement is a passacaglia, beginning slow, but building up to two towering climaxes before receding again. The fourth movement, a gigue, is a quick lilting dance which builds into a massive chaotic surge. The epilogue is a quiet movement, with the two instruments passing off parts of the main theme as it fractures into shards. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Light and Rain, for concert band (2016) – 6'

Light and Rain, inspired by one of the planets in the Incipisphere in Andrew Hussie’s webcomic Homestuck, frequently features clouds of scales, sometimes descending in torrents, or swirling amidst or around a texture. Sonorous brass chords at the beginning announce the opening theme, followed by the saxophone quartet introducing a second, more lyrical theme. Those two themes flow throughout the movement, occasionally shifting to faster pace with propulsive figures in the saxophones. See work's page for a perusal score

Obsidian, for two baritone saxophones, marimba, and piano (2015) – 14'

I. Chaos Legion
II. Double Canon
III. Purification Swing
Obsidian was written for saxophonist Taylor Scott Brooks. The first movement, Chaos Legion, is groovy, and its title is a reference to the fanfiction Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. The second movement is titled Double Canon, because it is one (saxes at three measures, at the minor sixth; marimba and piano at one measure, at the unison). The third movement, Purification Swing is somewhat influenced by electro-swing and brasshouse, and is titled in reference to the game OFF. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Much the Same Way That Ships Don't, for flute, violin, and piano (2015) – 4'

Much the Same Way That Ships Don’t, composed for flutist Louna Dekker-Vargas, was titled after one of my favorite quotes from Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” But in this piece, most of the motives fall, often quite precipitously — that is to say, they fall to the ground (and probably don’t miss), much the same way that ships don’t. See work's page for a perusal score

Through Knotted Space, for orchestra (2015) – 8'

Through Knotted Space ties around itself, with threads splitting and merging as octaves divide into ninths, lines branch out from notes, and notes sustain from within lines. Textures flicker as notes shift among instruments and timbres, blooming and receding. Throughout the piece are solos for instruments usually deprived of them – a doleful bassoon melody, a few harp chords amidst resonance, a dramatic viola line, and a brash, aggressive tuba solo. In time, the orchestra branches into a multitude of interweaving lines, out of which fragments of themes surface and submerge, until the tangled lines clarify and evaporate into the æther. See work's page for a recording and perusal score

Proximity, for flute and double bass (2015) – 8'

I. Prelude
II. Dance
Proximity was composed for the flutist Daniela Mars. It begins with the flute next to the bass, the two sounding only a half step apart. In the Prelude, the flute traces rhapsodic lines over a mostly-sustained bass part. The Dance features the bass, beginning with a pizzicato solo, and continuing through vigorous, rhythmic music for both, ending with both coming together on a unison. See work's page

Diptych, for solo guitar (2015) – 10'

I. Overture
II. Passacaglia
Diptych was written for Isaac Greene, to whom it is dedicated. The Overture begins with trios of chords, which break into dotted rhythms, then reform. The Passacaglia’s line is extracted from those chords, initially spread widely, but converging closer (and sometimes inverting, or even simultaneously running inverted and normal) until, at the climax, it forms again into the chords that began the Overture. See work's page

Spiraled Spires, for alto saxophone and piano (2015) – 8'30"

Spiraled Spires was composed for the saxophonist Ava Oaxaca. Ava likes altissimo, so the saxophone enters on a note well into its altissimo, from which it falls vertiginously. These descents, along with many tall chords in the piano, give the piece the latter part of its title, while the profusion of rapid swirling figures gives the title its former part. See work's page

Conflux, for double woodwinds (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon), four horns, and optional percussion (2015) – 5'

Conflux was written for conductor Chrysa Kovach, who wanted a “sassy/flashy” concert opener for the ensemble’s winds. The first idea, a combination of a gesture and a chord progression, belongs primarily to the horns and bassoons; the second, a jazzy line introduced in the clarinet, belongs primarily to the upper winds; the third is a melody frequently doubled in fifths, and is played at various times by all instruments. These themes are used and combined throughout the piece, with all three converging near the end. See work's page for a perusal score

Snow and Ash, for harp and strings (string orchestra, sextet, or piano reduction) (2015) – 9'

Snow and Ash, dedicated to harpist Amy Thompson, sets a brooding landscape of tolling low octaves from which a theme rises in the ‘celli, and is answered by a theme the upper strings. Those themes develop as the harp emerges from the depths to weave around the strings, until the intensity subsides and the harp introduces a third, more lyrical theme. The rest grows from these themes, swelling and fading, ultimately returning to the setting from which it began.
It exists in three versions — one for harp and string orchestra, one for harp and string sextet (2 vln., vla., 2 vlc., d.b.), and one for harp and piano reduction. See work's page for a perusal score

In Chasms Deep, for percussion quartet (2015) – 11'

In Chasms Deep was inspired by (and takes its title from) a passage generally known as Shallan’s Lullaby from Brandon Sanderson’s novel Words of Radiance. The piece uses a few motives – the quintuplet split between two players, a melodic line that forms gradually out of the marimbas’ quintuplets, and a series of five chords introduced in the vibraphone. Throughout the piece, these ideas shatter and reform, culminating in powerful quintuplets, then breaking apart into the fragments from which they emerged. See work's page for a perusal score

Saxophone Quartet 1: Angles and Intersections (2015) – 14'

I. Perpetually Shifting Torus Knot
II. Cracks across the Void
III. Right at the Next Octopus
The first movement, "Perpetually Shifting Torus Knot," interlocks the quartet in overlapping arcs, creating a texture that acts as one of the main motives of the movement. Various versions of that texture are contrasted and combined with the second motive, which first infiltrates the beginning texture, then comes into its own as an independent motive. The second movement, "Cracks across the Void," is sparse and stark, with isolated notes accumulating into a chaotic texture from which a slow theme emerges, then is taken up by all parts in imitation. After becoming increasingly ornamented, the quartet gives one unified statement of the theme, before it disintegrates into the isolated points of sound that began the movement. The third movement, "Right at the Next Octopus," is rhythmic, with staggered entrances in quick succession alternating with rhythmic unisons. The titles (including “Angles and Intersections”) are all from a passage in Act 6 Intermission 3 of the webcomic Homestuck, by Andrew Hussie. See work's page for a perusal score

Windrunner, for flute and piano (2015) – 8'

Windrunner was composed for flutist Emma Resmini after we started corresponding in the comments of one of your videos on YouTube. Its title comes from the Windrunners in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series. Windrunners used magic to reorient gravity – musically, this takes the form of frequent modulations, reorienting the tonal center. The piece has two main themes, the first a fleet theme introduced in the flute at the beginning, and the second a slow theme introduced somewhat later in the piano. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

An Invisible Titan: Concerto for bass trombone and wind ensemble (2014) – 12'

I. "Thick black forests..."
II. "...and jagged mountains..."
III. "...and deep turbulent oceans"
An Invisible Titan is in three continuous movements, all taking their titles from a quote in the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, episode 13, “A Story About You” (the same quote that gave the work its overall title). The first movement, “Thick black forests...” tends toward dense textures of parts overlapping, obscuring each other, with the percussion distantly rumbling. The second movement, “...and jagged mountains...” grows into stark spires of Eb as the theme from the first section transforms into something more angular. At the end of the movement, the ensemble builds up again, recalling the towering Eb octaves that began it, interrupted by rhythmic motive from the middle of the movement. From there, it plunges directly into the third movement, “...and deep, turbulent oceans,” with a massive chord surrounded by chromatic swirling. Quintuplets infiltrate the ensemble, beginning with the percussion, then spreading through the winds. As the section seems near to its climax, it instead descends, the bass trombone reaching down to its lowest notes of the piece before launching the ensemble into a coda in 5/8 (an extension of the previous quintuplets). The coda propels the work to its close, the soloist’s ascent paralleling Cecil’s final words in the episode, “You reach up...” See work's page for a perusal score

Dew and Glass, for flute and guitar (2014) – 6'30"

Dew and Glass was composed for the Green Moon duo of flutist Louna Dekker-Vargas and guitarist Isaac Greene. The piece uses two main themes, the first introduced in the flute at the beginning, and the second introduced a bit later by the guitar. A turbulent development leads to a sonorous climax, which in turn dissipates to a placid denouement. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Suite for Solo Double Bass (2014) – 20'

I. Loom
II. Footprints
III. Passacaglia
IV. Sever
V. Flux
The Suite is cast in five interconnected movements. The first, Loom, is a slow, heavy introduction of some of the main thematic material from which the suite will be woven. The second, Footprints, is a brief interlude, lighter and largely pizzicato. The suite centers around the third movement, the expansive and dramatic Passacaglia, with an inexorable line, sometimes stretched, contracted, or inverted. The fourth movement, Sever, is another interlude, this time of broken harmonics. The final movement, Flux, is rapid, switching between rhythmic patterns until it is overtaken by a return of the passacaglia line, which brings the suite to its close. See work's page for a recording

Seed Bismuth, for soprano saxophone, violoncello, and piano (2014) – 6'

Seed Bismuth, composed for Kenny Baik, takes its title from the fantasy (and sometimes science fiction) webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court, in which the school was, according to legend, grown from “seed bismuth.” Following the title, the piece combines the aspects of growth with something more mechanical and metallic. The main theme in particular derives from the appearance of bismuth crystals, with the spectrum of colors in angular spirals (image search “bismuth” to see the effect). Seed Bismuth is rhythmic and harmonically colorful, written for both the individual characteristics of the instruments, and the ways they combine. See work's page for a perusal score

Tendrils Above, for solo flute (2014) – 6'30"

Tendrils Above was composed for Kelly Sulick as part of the collaboration between Marina Piccinini’s flute studio and the Peabody composition department. It is in three continuous sections – the first is slow and unmetered, with the flute tracing arches and turns. The second section is likewise unmetered, but faster, with a more elaborate texture, creating multiple implied voices, interspersed with moments of relative stasis. The final section continues the faster pace, but becomes more rhythmic, clarifying into distinct beats and syncopating off of them. See work's page for a recording

A Herald on the Wind, for trumpet and wind ensemble, or trumpet and piano (2012-2014) – 9'

A Herald on the Wind was composed for trumpeter Justin Kenney. A trumpet solo introduces the main motives of the work. Two themes emerge, one vigorous, one calmer, both derived from the opening solo. These frequently appear in imitative textures — canons strict and approximate, and fugato. A third figure, ascending broken fifths, is interspersed, overtaking all near the end before being absorbed into final expanse of piano arpeggiations. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Coruscation, for orchestra (2012) or wind ensemble (2014) – 7'

Coruscation — the word meaning to gleam, flash, or glimmer -- uses frequent accelerating changes in orchestration and a extensive tuned percussion to create a shimmering effect. The main theme is stated in the vibraphone at the very beginning, and much of the melodic material throughout develops from it. See work's page for a recording

Edgedancer, for wind ensemble (2014) – 5'

The title is taken from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series, in which an Edgedancer is a person with ability to manipulate growth and friction. The opening motivic shards in the brass and the slow rising scale in the low winds grow into the main theme, which, in turn, develops through the rest of the ensemble. The manipulation of friction occurs in the pacing – while most the piece maintains forward momentum, there are points where it sticks, slowing motion abruptly. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Laser Gazelle, for two baritone saxophones, contrabassoon, and bass trombone (2014) – 6'

I. Charge
II. Charge
Laser Gazelle is titled after a quote by Professor Jeremy Wilson, who once instructed the wind ensemble to play "absolute laser gazelle intense." It is composed for John Michael Williams, Erin Elgass, Lydia Nance, and Brian Entwistle, all of whom wanted to play the lowest forms of the instruments available. The first movement is called "Charge" in the sense of storing energy (say for a laser). The second movement is also called "Charge," in the sense of running aggressively toward something. See work's page for a recording

Brass Quintet, for two trumpets, horn, trombone, and tuba (2014) – 10'

I. Antiphon
II. Scale
III. Slide
Each movement of my Brass Quintet features different parts of the ensemble. The first movement, Antiphon, focuses on the trumpets, frequently putting them in close imitation, playing with different meters (sometimes with different implied meters simultaneously in the ensemble). The second movement, Scale, focuses on the conical brass — the horn and tuba. The movement is built around a scale that slowly ascends, then descends. The final movement, Slide, focuses on the trombone — the only instrument in the group with a slide. The movement has its own theme, which is combined with themes from the preceding movements. See work's page for a perusal score

Divertimento, for clarinet, violin, violoncello, and piano (2013) – 6'30"

Divertimento was composed for the Blair School of Music's 50th anniversary. Blair began as a pre-college program, and all four of us who premiered the piece had been pre-college students at Blair. It is a vigorous, syncopated piece, drawing much of its material from a four-note motive at the very beginning, and a contrasting, more lyrical theme introduced in the cello. See work's page for a recording

Departure, for solo piano (2013) – 3'

Departure is a short solo piano piece I composed to play on my undergraduate senior recital. See work's page for a recording

Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (2013) – 13'

I. Schism
II. Afterimage
III. Juncture
The Sonata for Bassoon and Piano sets from the outset a dichotomy between D and Bb. Schism begins with the piano tolling fifths on D while the bassoon carves a slow melody in Bb. As the texture lightens, more divisions form, with the piano and bassoon frequently alternating playing, and triads vacillating between major and minor. In Afterimage, slow lines echo from one instrument to the other, a sort of unity achieved until the middle section when the piano fractures into flickering chords (often around Bb, D, or both). The final movement, Juncture, is rhythmic, and frequently brings D and Bb into rapid alternation, building energy until the final measures with the two key centers ricocheting between the bassoon and piano until one finally wins out. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Trio for two violins and viola (2013) – 20'

I. Paths
II. Elegy
III. Gigue
I noticed a tendency for trios of two violins and a viola to form when would-be string quartets lacked a cellist, and such groups almost inevitably wound up reluctantly playing Dvorák’s Terzetto. I figured I could at least give them a good alternative, so I composed this trio. The first movement, Paths, is in sonata form, with a lively first theme passed through the trio and more somber second theme introduced in the second violin, although at the beginning of the development, a new rhythmic motive is abruptly introduced. Following more turbulent development, the triumphant recapitulation arrives, and leads in turn to an even more energetic coda. The second movement, Elegy, is generally rather slow and stark, with moments of warmth. The final movement is a vigorous Gigue, with frequent imitation both on its own theme and on the first theme of the trio. See work's page for a perusal score

Suite on C, for solo violoncello (2013) – 20'

I. Commence
II. Collapse
III. Continue
IV. Courante
V. Contrast
VI. Coalesce
VII. Converge
VIII. Conclude
The Suite on C — intentionally "on," not "in," is based on the low open C of the cello. Different movements interact with it in different ways, some frequently returning to it, some avoiding it. Commence builds up from open C, while Collapse keep falling toward it without landing until Continue, which begins to rebuild from the wreckage. Courante is a Baroque dance that keeps taking odd turns, while Contrast is capricious — the lightest movement of the suite. In Coalesce, elements from the previous two movements merge, while Converge brings in material from the early movements to build to climax. Conclude is a quiet farewell, sinking back into the C. See work's page

Breath and Aura, for two violins, two violas, and violoncello (2013) – 9'30"

An amorphous, irregularly-pulsing cloud around G opens Breath and Aura. Short fragments coalesce into the first theme which finally emerges in the violas. The second theme, a vigorous quasi-gigue, belongs primarily to the violins. The final thematic idea, rather than a melody, is a progression, a sort of embedded chaconne that rotates a few times. The ‘cello, making up for not having a theme to itself, begins the development with a solo. The development combines all the themes in various guises, often contrapuntally. In the recapitulation, the first two themes switch characters — the melody of the first theme is transformed into a quasi-gigue and the melody of the second is moderately slow. Then the two, still in their reversed characters, are put into a double fugato with each other until they run into the chaconne progression, which serves as a denouement, with the preceding themes woven around it, rising to a quiet resolution. See work's page for a perusal score

Suite for Trumpet and Harp (2013) – 11'

I. Prelude
II. Foxtrot
III. Waltz
IV. Tango
V. "Aforementioned Twirling"
The Suite for Trumpet and Harp, composed for trumpeter Olivia Gilmore, is a modern dance suite, so rather than a courante, sarabande, gigue, etc., it has a foxtrot, waltz, and tango. A graceful prelude sets the suite off, followed by a lightly jazzy Foxtrot, a bleak Waltz, and an energetic Tango. The last movement, “Aforementioned Twirling,” takes its title from a phrase spoken by Elend Venture in the first book of the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and ties all the previous movements together. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Gargoyle, for trombone quartet (2013) – 5'

Gargoyle has two main ideas — dark, imposing chords building through the quartet, and a quick rhythmic melody. The two are introduced in turn, then combined various ways. See work's page for a recording

Pairings, for saxophone trio (ATBari) (2013) – 10'

I. Prelude — Fugue
II. Gigue — Forlane
III. Overture — Toccata Presto
Pairings is based on putting two different forms or elements together. Prelude — Fugue sets this off; rather than simply a prelude followed by a fugue, the two are based on the same theme, and the style of the prelude returns amidst the fugue, and closes out the movement. Forlane — Gigue begins with the gigue and has the forlane as a B section, seeming to be in a straightforward rounded binary form, but when the A section returns, the forlane music continues alongside the gigue. The last movement, Overture — Toccata Presto (OTP) begins with the dotted rhythms of a French overture before launching into a rapid 5/8 with interruptions. The dotted rhythms from the overture return, reworked into 5/8, along with the theme from the first movement. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Core, for piano trio (2013) – 7'

Core begins solemnly with the strings in a slow canon, interrupted by the piano’s chords giving momentary harmonic stability before turning even thornier. The trio builds slowly to a heavy climax before receding back into canons. A rhythmic ostinato builds tension once again until it bursts into a new, faster tempo. More possages of canons and rhythmic ostinati continue, leading to a dramatic climax, which then recedes, with the piece ending, as it began, with the strings alone. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Clarinet Quartet, for three Bb clarinets and one bass clarinet (2012) – 17'

I. Customary Sonata Form Movement
II. No, you may not have a fugue
III. Passacaglia — it keeps happening
IV. So many notes...
The Clarinet Quartet begins with a “Customary Sonata Form Movement,” featuring an introduction (slow), a first theme (quick), and a second theme (jovial), a closing motive (staccato), a development (with fugato), a recapitulation (with more staccato), and a coda (slow). The second movement, “No you may not have a fugue,” repeatedly attempts to assemble a fugal exposition, but is repeatedly thwarted, including once by an unrelated fugue’s subject. “Passacaglia — it keeps happening” is titled in reference to the nature of a passacaglia, the worst webcomic, as well as, slight less directly, the best webcomic. The last movement is titled “So many notes...” for reasons that should be obvious quickly. See work's page for a partial recording and a perusal score

Suite for Solo Horn (2012) – 11'

I. Canto
II. Toccata
III. Partial Canto
IV. Tarantella
V. Minuet
VI. Canto Coda
The Canto movements draw on plainchant, imitating its lines, but with odd chromaticisms and notes that bend downward. The first introduces the main motives, which will be devloped throughout the work. The toccata fragments those motives into highly rhythmic figures. The Partial Canto plays (as previous movements did slightly) with natural series of partials, including the unequal temperament that goes with them). The Tarantella begins quick and hastens further at several points. The Minuet is a moment of calm before the final Canto Coda, alternating the slow Canto theme with the fast material from the Toccata and Tarantella. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Sonata for Viola and Piano (2012) – 25'

I. Pedal 1 — Prelude
II. Toccata
III. Pedal 2 — Interlude
IV. Passacaglia
V. Pedal 3 — Sarabande
VI. Jig
VII. Pedal 4 — Cadenza
VIII. Fugue
IX. Pedal 5 — Postlude
The Sonata for Viola and Piano, composed for violist Christopher Lowry, is cast in nine movements. The odd-numbered movements all have a pedal point on C — while the octave varies, a C sustains throughout the movement. The sonata divides into groups of three movements — The first three are a violent Toccata framed by subdued Pedal movements, all closely related thematically. The next three draw from Baroque styles — a Passacaglia on a twelve-note line, a Sarabande with three of the viola’s strings tuned down, and a vigorous Jig. The last three begin with an improvised cadenza for the violist over a C tremolo in the piano; a Fugue follows, based on the main theme and motive of the sonata, and a Postlude brings the sonata to its close. See work's page

Tale, for Solo Violin (2012) – 20'

I. Prologue
II. Commedia
III. Drama
IV. Intermezzo
V. Climax
VI. Epilogue
Tale is a suite of six movements, all with theatric titles. The major seventh (or minor second) of D-C# runs throughout the work, beginning every movement. The slow "Prologue" sets the stage for the rest of the suite. "Commedia" is playful, switching between arco and pizzicato playing. "Drama" is the center of the work — the longest and heaviest movement. "Interlude" is a short, lyrical movement that leads into the virtuosic "Climax," bringing together themes from the previous movements. "Epilogue" is a quiet resolution and farewell. See work's page for a recording

Chiaroscuro, for solo harp (2012) – 8'

Chiaroscuro is a virtuoso work for solo harp. It is in three main sections — the first features large chords interspersed with rapid figures; the second is slow and more lyrical; the third is rapid and rhythmic — a quiet coda ends the work. The title is a term for the contrast of light and shade in visual arts, which is reflected in this piece harmonically. See work's page for a recording

Escenas de Ecuador, for ten or eleven violins (2011) – 10'

I. Chimborazo
II. Sanjuanito
III. La Campania
IV. Pasillo
V. Quito
Escenas de Ecuador was composed for Professor Carolyn Huebl’s studio recital, which was a benefit for Camp Hope in Ecuador. The piece is divided into five continuous, interconnected movements. The first, Chimborazo, is named after the tallest mountain in Ecuador, and uses all the parts individually. The next three movements highlight groups of soloists – Sanjuanito, named for an Ecuadorian dance, has Violins 1–3 as soloists; La Compania, named after an old, ornate cathedral in Ecuador, has Violins 4–7 as soloists; Pasillo, named after another Ecuadorian dance, has Violins 8–10 as soloists. Quito, named after the capital city of Ecuador, has all the parts independent again, and at times has each section playing in the style for which they were the soloists in the middle movements. The piece concludes serenely, returning to the sonorities and theme from the beginning. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Invention, for oboe and piano (2011) – 6'

Invention was composed for oboist Lindsey Reymore. It frequently switches between 3/4 and 6/8 — a hemiola taken to the point that there isn’t a clear dominant meter. The first motive is a five-note figure explored in various rhythmic configurations. The second is a more reflective figure with repeated notes. Canons are a recurring idea — a canon begins the piece, a canon at inversion begins the recapitulation, and another canon begins the coda. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Elegy, for orchestra (2011) – 7'

Elegy is not intended to lament anything or anyone, but to be an elegy in character, with dark, thorny harmonies framing a more peaceful central section. The melody at the beginning provides the thematic material for Elegy, along with a countermelody introduced in the flutes. Throughout the piece runs a pedal point on Db or C#, in many instruments and registers. See work's page for a recording

Caprice, for four harps (2011) – 4'

Caprice is a short, energetic piece for harp quartet. I had heard few harp ensemble works that truly took advantage of the ensemble, so I wanted to write something in which each part was truly independent, not consigned to constant doubling or harmonic filler. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score

Winter's Breath, for violoncello and harp (2010) – 4'

Winter's Breath was composed for a collaboration between the composition and cello departments at the Blair School of Music. The title refers to an open, crystalline atmosphere in the piece. It hangs suspended, rarely settling into fully solid harmonies, while also not biting with dissonance. See work's page for a recording and a perusal score