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Psychopomp, for percussion ensemble (2020) – 60'
IV. Iudicare saeculum per ignem
Psychopomps — those who guide the dead to the afterlife — have appeared in stories throughout history. They are not the bringers of death, but rather those who take the souls of the deceased and walk, fly, or ferry them on their journey beyond the mortal realm. Psychopomp is tied to no particular mythology of death, but makes reference to a few. It is divided in three triptychs: Metal, Fire, and Memory, each focusing on one particular subunit of the ensemble. Metal is hard and clangorous, with interlocking rhythms. Fire is volatile, with rhythms moving to greater speed and complexity, sometimes escalating until they come around the other side, becoming clouds of sound. Memory is the most abstract — fluid rhythms and shifting clouds predominate, but as an anchor amidst that, the figures from before coalesce into a new melody. The first movement of each triptych is an introduction, and takes its title from the traditional requiem — Introit; Iudicare saeculum per ignem, to judge the world by fire; and Eleison, mercy. The second and longest movement of each triptych is named after a mythological underworld river — Gjöll, the river of blades; Phlegethon, the river of fire; and Lethe, the river of forgetting. The final movement of each triptych focuses on the featured subunit of that triptych and is titled after a method of writing or making art — Etching, chemically burning metal to create designs, is a trio for brake drums; Encaustic, painting with pigmented hot wax, is a quartet for drums; Palimpsest, a text written over a previous, mostly-erased one, features the duo of the Memory subunit. Psychopomp was composed for Hannah Weaver and the University of Nebraska Omaha Percussion Ensemble. See work's page
Abscission, for solo harp (2020) – 5'
Neon, for trumpet, bass clarinet, and electronics (2020) – 4'35"
While the slow, rhythmically-amorphous classical-electronic-piece sound has worked well for some composers, I felt like I’d heard it too many times on classical electronic concerts, so I decided not to do that. And I listened to Knower and Sungazer, Red Velvet and NCT, and watched a bunch of tutorials (particular by Virtual Riot) so I would be less bad at electronics, and this is what happened. Neon was composed for the Spark Duo. See work's page
Recollection for oboe, bassoon, horn, and piano (2020) – 8'
Recollection is made of two main themes — the first is a solemn chorale that recurs occasionally, not so much developed as recontextualized; the second, while obliquely related to the first, is more flowing, and develops throughout the piece, gradually gaining vigor. The piece was composed for Blair faculty Jared Hauser, Peter Kolkay, Leslie Norton, and Heather Conner. See work's page
Lambency, for solo vibraphone (2019-2020) – 21'
I. Swaying Hold
II. Holding Sway
IV. Abandoned Archways
V. Trick of the Light
VI. Shadowed Trails
VIII. The Fey
Lambency is a set of beginner to intermediate pieces for solo vibraphone (with one optional ensemble). The title refers both to the tone of the vibraphone and to the approach of the movements — they emphasize color, but most with a soft glow. Swaying Hold and Holding Sway both feature rocking figures, the former more lilting, the latter more resolute. Nacre softly outlines iridescent harmonies. Abandoned Archways and Trick of the Light both feature two-voices and assymetric rhythmic patterns — the former gives a sense of space and emptiness; the latter is much brighter and more energetic. Shadowed Trails features imitative two-part counterpoint. Ketek is the name of a poetic form, which is palindromic not by letters but by words in Brandon Sanderson’s series The Stormlight Archive — this is rendered musically as a palindrome of 11 phrases, with phrase 1 the same as phrase 11, phrase 2 the same as phrase 10, etc., with phrase 6, the longest, the only unrepeated phrase. The Fey has a melody built out of a short figure over luminous shifting harmonies. The final movement is separated as an epilogue — still written as a solo piece, but intended to be played by 2-4 players in canon. See work's page
Emptied Air, for alto saxophone, bass clarinet, and percussion (2019) – 12'
Emptied Air was composed for Hannah Weaver, Daniel Whitworth, and Nick Davies. The title is based on (although not a direct translation of) a line from Sulli's final released song, "Dorothy." See work's page
Circles and Sigils, for percussion quartet (or percussion trio and piano) (2019) – 9'
Circles and Sigils evokes an arcane rite not of any historical sort but of any number of fictional settings. Most present in my mind was Critical Role, which had recently become very fond of teleportation circles (and the running joke about Mercer’s previous mispronunciation of “sigil” also probably informed the title). The “circles” most directly refer to cycling melodies that repeat and develop throughout the piece. It begins distant and foreboding, but gains intensity through a few waves, becoming an onslaught of sound. See work's page
Heptagram, for solo percussion on seven drums (2019) – 5'
Heptagram is, unsurprisingly given the title, based around sevens. It is played on seven drums, introduced at expanding time intervals, such that the introduction of each of the last two drums marks the beginning of a main section. Once all seven are in play, various cycles going through all seven drums — analogous to different sorts of heptagrams — are interspersed with the existing motives. See work's page
Releasing, for solo marimba (2019) – 10'
Releasing is a set of three movements, with each successive movement using one fewer playing implement. The first, Roots, uses four mallets, and as such tends toward thicker harmonies and heavier textures. The second, Reach reduces the right hand to one mallet, focusing on a long melody. While playing marimba with up to four mallets is standard, reducing to one implement in each hand does allow faster and more precise control of each one, which allows for the quick syncopations and asymmetric meters of the final movement, Mobility. See work's page
Accumulation, for solo snare drum (2019) – 5'
Accumulation begins simply — a slide and a tap with one hand on the drum. This sets in motion the gradual introduction of means, from that same hand producing a larger variety of timbres, to two hands, to one stick and one stickless hand, to two sticks, and finally to the snares being flipped on. Each of these introduces new sounds, through which the motives begin to run. There are about three motives. One is that opening figure. The second is in 2/4, except every other measure. The third is in 7/8, but unofficially kind of turns into 14/16. See work's page
Maelstrom, for thirteen saxophones (2019) – 7'30"
Maelstrom rises, roiling from the depths with a few elemental motives — overlapping scales and a rocking figure, spiraling up to the main melody, high in the tenor’s range. These continue turning through the rest of the piece, with passages of development of these motives rotating back into broad statements of the theme. It was composed for the Eastman Saxophone Project. See work's page for a recording
Pentachrome, for woodwind quintet (2019) – 10'
III. Palette Swap
Pentachrome is a set of miniatures composed for the Tennessee Valley Woodwind Quintet. The woodwind quintet is potentially a very colorful ensemble, with five instruments each having a distinct timbre. But many woodwind quintets (Ligeti’s and Aho’s excluded) have a tendency to end up the same Woodwind Quintet Sound. And so I set out to avoid the Woodwind Quintet Sound, and bring out more of the coloristic variety of the ensemble. The first movement, Kaleidoscope, features flowing lines of thirds surrounding melodic lines. The second, Silhouette, begins the oboe and bassoon in canon, alternating with a slow melody (in perhaps a stylistic nod to Aho). The third, Palette Swap has a multiple instruments articulate melodic notes, but switch which instrument sustains each note. The fourth, Brushstrokes surrounds a melody with quasi-heterophonic lines over a slow progression in the bass instruments. The final movement, Sheen, fuses elements of the other movements. See work's page
Sparks Descending, for violin, horn, and piano (2019) – 9'
The piano’s opening gesture in Sparks Descending quickly branches into a few alternate motives, out of which interweaving melodic lines of increasing urgency form. A soft low note in the piano brings these to an abrupt stop, replacing the dense activity with an austere, cavernous texture. But soon, the opening texture begins to reform, this time building from a heavier, darker foundation. Once again, at its peak of intensity, a low note from the piano cuts it off, this time leading to a more extensive closing section of solemnly sinking lines and fragmented memories of the preceding section. Sparks Descending was composed for Kylwyria. See work's page for a recording
Carom, for percussion trio (2019) – 3'
Carom is a trio for indefinitely-pitched percussion, with various members setting the others in motion, and rhythmic figures ricocheting among the group. See work's page
Concerto for Piano and Wind Ensemble (2019) – 18'
I. Tangled Silk
III. An Inferno of Ivories
My Concerto for Piano and Wind Ensemble grows out of two fundamental seeds — hastening repeated notes (initially C), and a four-note figure (initially C-Eb-D-G). The four-note figure and three small variants form a longer melody, which is present from the beginning, but moves at somewhat different speeds, and with many repetitions of notes, across several instruments — forming a web of lines (whence the first movement’s title, Tangled Silk). The first half of Tangled Silk is an unraveling of this, slowing the rate of notes and peeling away the density of texture until, at the middle of the movement, the pianist plays the pure melody, with only a simple counterpoint and drone, with the note repetitions reduced to a single repetition of a few notes in the melody. Over the latter half of the movement, varied forms of the motives recombine, until it reaches a level of density exceeding that of the beginning, cut off abruptly by a low pair of notes in the piano
These notes, C and Eb, signal the beginning of the second movement, Ouroboros. As fits the title (the name of the symbol of a serpent eating its own tail), it is (mostly) a passacaglia, with a repeating line, initially slow and sparse in the piano, gradually gaining speed and other layers surrounding it. It has the strictest form of any of the movements and, perhaps because of this, it is the most broken. Approximately halfway through, interruptions break into the progression of the passacaglia, switching abruptly to distorted glimpses of the middle of the first movement, before the passacaglia reasserts itself. The idea of the Ouroboros applies not only to the circular nature of a passacaglia but also to the movement overall — it ends, as it began, with tolling pairs of notes in the lowest range of the piano.
The third movement is titled An Inferno of Ivories, a paraphrase of the pun “Ivories in the Fire” from Homestuck, by Andrew Hussie (one might also trace references to [spiders’] silk and an ouroboros back to Homestuck, if more tangentially). A groove sets in immediately, from which the piano builds into a theme, fusing multiple branches of the main motives of the concerto. These rapid-fire fusions of elements across the concerto continue through the movement, into the final, still faster ascent of the piano, collapsing the divisions into a resolution of — inevitably — repeating C.
See work's page
A Thickness of Birds, for harp and orchestra (2019) – 4'
A Thickness of Birds takes its title from the sentence “All darkness is just a thickness of birds,” in an episode of Welcome to Night Vale, a podcast written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. The harp weaves amidst the orchestra as rapid fluttering figures grow into slow winding melodies and vice versa. A Thickness of Birds was composed for harpist Amy Thompson. See work's page
Amidst Brume, for piano and electronics (fixed media) (2018) – 4'
Amidst Brume surrounds the live piano's sound in a mist of resonance, often shimmering or stretching from the piano's figures. See work's page
Phantasmagoric Radiance, for orchestra (2018) – 3'
Phantasmagoric Radiance is constantly in flux, with harmonies transforming into each other and the orchestration shifting among sections and registers. Melodies leave echoing trails, while incisive chords burst from different parts of the ensemble. Throughout the piece, one melody develops into both broader and faster versions of itself, with the versions converging around the original at the end. See work's page
Mobile III: Vertical Foliage, for solo piccolo (2018) – 2'
Mobile III: Vertical Foliage is based on Alexander Calder’s mobile titled “Vertical Foliage,” and is the third in a series of pieces I have composed based on Calder’s mobiles and dedicated to flutist Robin Meiksins. This is the first one for piccolo, and takes advantage of the piccolo’s exceptionally high fluidity and ease of playing whistle tones to convey the sweeping arc of dark shapes in Calder’s mobile. See work's page
Wellspring, for solo bass clarinet (2018) – 6'
Wellspring was composed for clarinetist and composer Nick Morandi. It is a passacaglia, its line consisting of three wide ascending intervals, followed by a low melody that circles back to the beginning. Successive variations build around this line, forming new melodic figures, or extracting motives from the line into their own developments beyond their original presence in it. One of my favorite aspects about clarinets in general, and the bass clarinet in particular, is their wide range, and Wellspring takes advantage of that, spanning slightly over a four-octave range over the course of the piece. See work's page
Clearing, for violin and alto saxophone (2018) – 12'
I. Mist 1
III. Mist 2
V. Mist 3
Clearing, composed for saxophonist Zach Stern and violinist Sophia Han, is in three pairs of movements — the three Mist movements are amorphous, with fragments of melodies from preceding or upcoming movements emerging and receding. The second movement’s title, Twist refers to the beats within measures being rotated around, frequently keeping the measure length constant while its internal pattern remains unpredictable. Twine threads the instruments’ lines around each other, with a slow, solemn chorale materializing twice. Tightrope launches the duo into rapid metrical changes using melodies and figures from preceding movements. See work's page
Mitochondria, for grade 2 band (2018) – 2'30"
If you aren’t familiar with the “Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell” meme (complete with its subject-verb disagreement), you probably haven’t spent enough time on the internet, but it will be easy enough to find a description of it. Anyway, this piece has a lot of power chords and a heavy rhythmic groove, which is probably what mitochondria would sound like if they weren’t so busy powering everyone’s cells and memes so they could play this piece. See work's page
Aeolis Mons, for solo bass (or alto) flute (2018) – 2'
Sonata No. 2 for Tuba and Piano (2018) – 11'
My second sonata for tuba and piano was composed for tubist Max Briggs. Foundation develops out of the tuba’s opening melody and the piano’s interjections, with heavy chords moving it inexorably forward, broken by a brief, crystalline middle section. Cavatina is lyrical, with a slow melody always accompanied by Eb/D# pulsing a five-beat rhythm. Coil turns the first movement’s main motive backwards, then winds it around itself to form a driving, rhythmic melody. See work's page
Piccolo Passacaglia (2018) – 4'
Piccolo Passacaglia, composed for flutist Elizabeth Milligan, is titled both for the instrument on which it is played and for the fact that it is a small (the literal translation of “piccolo”) passacaglia — with the repeating line only six notes, and a total length of around four minutes. Since the piccolo is a (generally) monophonic instrument, rather than building harmonically on the line, it elaborates around it melodically, although sometimes with multiple implied voices. particularly arising from what begins as a grace-note figure, then develops over the course of the piece. See work's page
Helepole, for grade 1 band (2018) – 2'15"
Helepole is named after a type of ancient siege tower that covered a battering ram (the name means “taker of cities” — helepoles were serious business). The piece is in three sections — the first section is in D Phrygian, and introduces two themes, one with assertive leaps up and down, and the second with lyrical melodic arc. The second section, in G Aeolian, develops and combines these themes before building up to a dissonant chord which heralds the third section — a return to D Phrygian, this time with a brake drum being bludgeoned. See work's page
Prismatic Threads, for harp duo (2018) – 9'
Prismatic Threads was composed for the duo Artemis94, consisting of harpists Rosanna Moore and Kristina Finch. It begins with several iterations of the note C splitting into other notes, particularly at tritones, before harp 1 launches into a rhythmic melody (based on equal-tempered approximations of the Gb overtone series), while harp 2 plays bursts of arpeggiations based on different overtone series (D, then C). These bright contrasting colors created by intersecting overtone series recur throughout the piece, as does the rhythm from the melody. The rhythmic melody transforms into a lilting, lyrical melody passed between the harps, which acts as a second main version of the theme. These two hues of the theme develop and interweave throughout the duo, culminating in the original form sounding amidst sonorous tritone-related overtone chords, finally coming back into alignment. See work's page
Reactor, for reed trio (2018) – 11'
Reactor was composed or the reed trio Ritual Action, comprised of oboist Andrew Nogal, clarinetist Andy Hudson, and bassoonist Ben Roidl-Ward. It is in three main sections, each separated by a bassoon solo. The first section introduces the main motives — a slow melody in the oboe, a pair of figures played by the clarinet and bassoon in parallel, and a strident rising motive in the clarinet. The second section develops those themes and motives at a more agitated pace. During the second bassoon solo, the other players switch to lower versions of their instruments, leading to the heavy groove that begins the third section, building intensity to the rapid, driving conclusion. See work's page
Wisp, for solo clarinet (2018) – 1'
Wisp is a quiet miniature for solo clarinet alternating two strata of music — rapid figurations in the low register, and their temporally-distorted shadow in the upper register. See work's page
Conjuration, for solo bass (or alto) flute (2018) – 5'30"
Conjuration was composed for the flutist Daniela Mars. Daniela specializes in bass flute, and one of my favorite aspects of the bass flute is how naturally the low register overblows, throwing off flickering harmonics. That became a prominent part of this piece, beginning with slow, ceremonial gestures which coalesce into a melody. Parts of the melody develop, beginning hushed and mysterious, then becoming increasingly urgent as the melody attempts to re-form, leading to a radiant conclusion. See work's page
The Light Flickers, for vibraphone and piano (2018) – 13'
I. "illuminate beneath the amber glow"
II. "the last yet to be replaced"
III. "flicker back"
The Light Flickers was composed for the duo of pianist Yoshiko Arahata and percussionist Joshua Graham. It draws its titles and inspiration from a passage early in a game masquerading as a visual novel (which later turns out to be more psychological horror), written by Dan Salvato. The vibraphone and piano are both resonant instruments, and resonance plays a large role in the piece, with luminous flourishes left to hang in the air. One melody, in particular the four-note motive that begins it, introduced partway through “illuminate beneath the amber glow,” runs throughout all movements. Echoing two-note figures spread and contract, sometimes seemingly independent of other layers. Hocket — lines or chords alternating between the instruments — grows out of these echoes. This, along with tight canons create the sense of the instruments filling in and copying each others’ lines in “the last yet to be replaced.” The rapid switching at the end of the second movements collapses into the waves of hocketed pulses of “flicker back,” which subside into a summation, alternately delicate and sonorous, woven between the two instruments. See work's page for a recording and perusal score
Constellated Traces, for small orchestra (2018) – 6'
Constellated Traces spreads across a sparse landscape of long, slow melodic lines, leaving faint trails. Gradually more accumulate, converging into a tangle of threads before clarifying and once again fading away. See work's page for a recording and perusal score
Brace, for two trombonists on alternate instruments (2018) – 10'
Brace was composed for the Music City Trombone Duo. They wanted a piece for them to each play their alternate instruments, so, over the course of the piece, Jeremy, ordinarily a tenor trombonist, plays Baroque posaune, bass trumpet, and bass trombone; Brian, ordinarily a bass trombonist, plays jazz tenor trombone, euphonium, and contrabass trombone. The first movement, Pincer, centers around a short figure that contracts in on itself, developing both into a compressed two-note motive and into a longer melody. Procession is dignified, with a slow melody developing into imitative figures between the bass trumpet and euphonium. Breach is loud.See work's page
Postludes for Piano (2013-2018) – 26'
To steal the void
The Postludes for piano are a set I've been gradually adding to over a few years (and will probably continue to a little more, but presently there are these ten). I was bothered by the prevalence of preludes that did not precede anything, so decided to counterbalance them with a set of postludes that didn't follow anything.
Departure is about enigmatic resonant chords and wanting something easy I could play on my undergraduate senior recital.
Flickering is about quick, shimmering figures and fading away.
Descent is about a continuous sequence of falling Phrygian tetrachords.
Evaporation is about brief, rapid figures rising to join the air.
To steal the void is about a stark progression emerging from a caliginous void.
Exeunt left is about the right hand, because the left hand has left.
Mirage is about moving in thirds and Brahms.
Cadence is about tonal cadences, cadential figures, and a canon.
Shivering is about tremoli and emptiness and a little bit about overtones.
Ad Astra is about ascending and split-third chords.
See work's page for a recording of a few of the postludes
Mobile II: Red Arcing, for solo flute (2017) – 3'
Mobile II: Red Arcing is based on Alexander Calder’s 1950 mobile Red Gongs. Calder’s mobile has an arc of several irregular red shapes close together, with three brass shapes spread farther apart at one end. Musically, this takes the form of rapid groups of notes flickering through registers. In the middle are three clouds of whistle tones — very soft high notes. The piece is dedicated to flutist Robin Meiksins. See work's page for a recording
Mobile I: Flurry, for solo flute (2017) – 7'
Mobile I: Flurry was composed for flutist Robin Meiksins, and is based on Alexander Calder’s 1948 mobile Snow Flurry. Calder’s mobile has three main branches, each ending in eight or fourteen white circles. The piece likewise puts the flutist performing in three layers, each with their own identities — a low layer, belonging to the voice and certain low percussive techniques, a middle layer characterized by key clicks, tongue pizzicato, and breathy and voice-distorted tone, and an upper layer belonging to pure tones, flutter-tongue and timbre trills. The layers are introduced gradually, becoming progressively more entangled, then separating again at the end. A melody runs through each layer, repeatedly turning back and forth in each, finally coming into clear, pure statement near the end. Much like Calder’s mobile has open space surrounding arcs of shapes, the music is spacious, both vertical space outlined by the layers, and in the time between groups of notes. See work's page for a recording
Rushing Asunder, for solo harp (2017) – 8'
Rushing Asunder, composed for harpist Rosanna Moore, is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s tale The Fall of the House of Usher. It is in three sections, and follows the final scenes of the story. The first section sets up a luminous miasma of the atmosphere around the titular house. The second section launches into agitated activity as sounds begin to occur in the house. The third section is essentially a mad scene — a partially-coherent text spoken in the story by Roderick Usher leading to a moment of terrifying clarity, after which all collapses. See work's page for a recording
Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble (2017) – 13'
Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble was composed for trumpeter Erika Izaguirre. As I was preparing to compose the piece, Erika showed me that the trumpet has small slides that can bend the pitch by a semitone. This struck me as an underused ability, particularly for adding melodic nuance, so it became one of the basic musical ideas of the piece.
The concerto is stacked in four continuous movements. In the first, Bonds, a slow invocation from the trumpet grows from the semitone slide into longer figures before bringing in much of the ensemble. The trumpet reasserts itself with a quintuplet rhythm before introducing a lyrical melody that is stopped, left feeling incomplete. The ensemble attempts to play the melody, but it becomes progressively more broken until the trumpet is left alone in a searching cadenza which leads into the second movement, Unmooring.
The stasis and heaviness of Bonds are left behind for rapid dialogues of lines being thrown from the soloist into the ensemble and motives from before being developed. At the end of the movement, the full ensemble finally joins the soloist in dramatic statement of the melody, but it wrenches apart again, more violently than before. In the aftermath, all that remains is the empty sonority of the third movement, Expanse, in which the solo trumpet discovers a new extension of its opening motive, reaching farther, before being enveloped by enigmatic chords shifting within the ensemble.
Violent, rapid interruptions from the trumpet lead into the final movement, Gauntlet. Ferocious lines in the trumpet and ensemble chase each other, driving the trumpet to a return of its opening solo, but with a broader span, and with the ensemble swirling and pulsing around it. Lyrical and turbulent music converge more rapidly, culminating in the soloist soaring over the ensemble with the melody, finally completed by the figure from Expanse so it can fly to the end. See work's page for a recording and perusal score
Sonata No. 1 for Tuba and Piano (2017) – 14'
III. "an abode of quiet"
My first sonata for tuba and piano, 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'
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) – 12'
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) – 26'
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 Fallen, 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 for a recording and a perusal score
Divisions and Diversions: four pieces and an encore for solo alto saxophone (2017) – 13'
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 for a recording
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 for a recording
Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano (2017) – 9'
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'
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 recording and a perusal score
Filament Canopy, for harp and percussion (2016) – 18'
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 for a recording
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) – 5'
Close Enough is a short piece about rhythms that are almost the same. See work's page for a recording and 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
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'
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'
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 for a recording
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'
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'
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'
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
Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (2013) – 13'
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
Fractured Dances, for solo violin (2013, rev. 2019) – 6'30"
Fractured Dances is a violin concertpiece in several sections, all based on the same theme, all on the verge of sounding like a dance of some variety, all breaking apart short of settling in to stability, then reforming into a different pseudo-dance, building up speed to the virtuosic conclusion. See work's page
Trio for two violins and viola (2013) – 20'
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'
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'
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'
III. Partial Canto
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
III. Pedal 2 — Interlude
V. Pedal 3 — Sarabande
VII. Pedal 4 — Cadenza
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'
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'
III. La Campania
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