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Notes About the Music

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Orchestral & Large Ensemble Music
Chamber Music
Vocal Music
Solo Instrumental Music
Piano Music

 

Orchestral & Large Ensemble Music


Capriccio Tempestoso for Harp & String Orchestra
Capriccio Tempestoso for harp and orchestra contains many of the characteristics often associated with the genre.  Although composed in a classic fast-slow-fast architecture, there are sudden and contrasting changes of mood, unexpected turns, and an overall whimsical freedom.  The dialog between harp and orchestra is playful at times, antagonizing at others, and suddenly turbulent at still others.  The work lasts approximately 12 minutes and is scored for 2 flutes, 1 oboe (doubling english horn), 2 clarinets, 1 bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, 1 tuba, timpani, percussion, harp solo and strings.  The score was written during late June and July of 2010, and is dedicated to harpist Emily Wren Colton and the Chicago Composers Orchestra in celebration of their inaugural concert.

*****

Meditation for Harp & String Orchestra
Meditation for harp and string orchestra was written in memory of harpist Ceren Necipoğlu.  It is a straight forward composition based on just a few ideas.  It is meant to be a work of simple warmth and beauty.  In contrast to many of my other works, the listener should simply enjoy the gentle enveloping sounds of the harp and strings instead of concentrating on specific themes.  It is meant to be a very modest reflection of, and tribute to, the quiet warmth, beauty and intelligence that Ceren Necipoğlu possessed.

I met Ceren for the first time in Bloomington, Indiana at the IU School of Music in 2000.  I wrote Visions in Twilight, my first work for harp, for Ceren.  Without her help it would not have been as successful as it is.  I cherish the many times we met during our years in Bloomington, and was very happy that we stayed in touch so often following her return to Turkey.

Before she left for Turkey in 2001, Ceren gave me a small book of contemporary Turkish literature.  The book, and many of its short stories and poems, have taken on special meaning for me.  One particular theme presented in one of the poems is that when things end, if they end with love, they do not truly end.  In this same manner, Ceren will forever remain in my heart.

*****


La Chapelle d’Aiguilhe: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

La Chapelle d’Aiguilhe: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, was inspired by the Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe cathedral located in Puy-en-Velay in France.  Built in the 10th century, the chapel sits atop a volcano created two million years ago.  It is interesting that a beautiful man-made chapel sits atop an imposing natural structure with such a violent history.  The mingling of beauty and brutality, consonance and dissonance in nature, the idea of “man-made” religious faith and the natural “spirit” of the earth, all inspired music in different sections of the work.

The heart of the concerto is comprised of three primary parts.  The parts are comparable to a typical three movement concerto scheme: the first is of moderate tempo, the second is slow, and the third is fast.  Four episodes surround the three larger parts.  They are very brief and focus on simple musical ideas presented by the solo cello.  They foreshadow and summarize material presented in the larger parts of the work.

La Chapelle d’Aiguilhe: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, cello solo and strings, and lasts approximately 18 minutes.  The work is comprised of the following sections (performed without pause):

Prologue: Awakening
Part I: First Light  -  Interlude 1: Perception
Part II: Saint Michael  -  Interlude 2: Ascension
Part III: Ancient Faith, Ancient Fire
Epilogue: Illumination

*****

Solace
Solace explores a variety of moods and textures. The music is often aggressive, sometimes outright violent, and almost always searching for some kind of consolation. Calm sections provide momentary relief from the more powerful music which dominates the piece; it is only at the very end when a real sense of succor is found, and even then it is challenged.

The piece is cast in an oddly structured single movement, the form of which can be roughly organized as follows: A1 – B – C1 | D – E – A2 | F – C2 – G | A3 – C3. A single motive provides the basic building material for all sections. A and C contrast the motive at its emotional poles: A is aggressive while C is serene. The A sections all begin in the same general manner and are therefore easy to recognize. The C sections are slower in tempo and provide different stages of repose throughout the piece.

The remaining sections develop from materials found within the A and C sections. Section B is an outgrowth of A1, an aggressive grandiose character that shifts and becomes violent and jarring. Section D develops two basic ideas, one dominated by brass, and the other by the woodwinds. E shares several traits with section B, developing them in a similar, but more organized fashion. A2 follows; it is an altered and abbreviated form of the original A. Section F is transitional and creates a flurry of sound between the strings and woodwinds. Material that previously provided accompaniment in other sections here becomes the primary focus. C2further explores the calm side of material already firmly established. G juxtaposes material found in various sections of the work, transforming it into a grotesque music that is dance-like at times. A3 is scored in a very heavy and sustained manner, and abruptly connects with C3, the final music of “repose”. This section, however, is not without conflict. The serene music is bombarded by short, violent outbursts from the brass and percussion, which eventually subside.

Throughout the piece all the instrumental groupings of the orchestra have their moments at the fore. The work highlights various combinations of solo, ensemble, and sectional writing, contrasting them with one another. The writing is virtuosic at times, especially when playing within some of the more complex and textured music for larger groups.

The harmonic language of the piece is based on a set of four pitches: two semitones separated by a whole tone. This set of pitches is used in various ways throughout the course of the piece, but always lends itself to music of a more chromatic nature. Pure diatonic music makes an appearance only at the end of the work. Even then it is questionable whether true solace has been achieved.

Solace is scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, english horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 percussion, harp, piano/celesta, and strings, and lasts approximately 16 minutes.

*****

Concerto for Piano & Chamber Orchestra
Perhaps the most significant information I can offer the listener about my Concerto for Piano & Chamber Orchestra is that which I have consciously tried to avoid: typical “concerto-isms”. I’ve used individual elements typically found in concerto-related works throughout the composition, but often in less traditional ways. An example of this occurs about three minutes into the work, when the orchestra builds to a climax and abruptly halts, offering the piano the chance to shine in the magnificent grandeur that has come to be so expected from the major concerto staples of the repertoire. At this point the piano does in fact have its brief moment, but is cut short by the woodwinds who will not allow the piano to expand upon its material. Instead, as the music becomes frustrated, the work is forced to transition.

The heart of the concerto is comprised of four main parts: the first two are rather fast, the third is slow, and the last is again fast. Each section contains very distinct material and characteristics, and the role of the piano also varies. During the second major section, the piano provides the foundation upon which sections of the orchestra perform their own tightly knit bursts of material, briefly becoming soloists themselves. In multiple instances, the ensemble work is just as intricate and important as the piano itself. The third section provides a stark contrast (and relief) to the energy found in the rest of the work. The jolting strictness of additive rhythms is now balanced against gentle music that begins senza misura. After music of a more spacious and serene quality, a cadenza for the piano thrusts us into the final section of the work.

Ravel claimed that “all of life’s pleasure consists of getting a little closer to perfection, and expressing life’s mysterious thrill a little better”. I hope this concerto expresses a small amount of that usually elusive “mysterious thrill” and provides a few pleasant surprises along the way.

Concerto for Piano & Chamber Orchestra was commissioned by and is dedicated to David Dzubay and the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, and was written especially for Ji-Hye Chang who gave the premier of my Cosmopolitan Etudes for piano.

*****

In a Moment of Simple Beauty
In a Moment of Simple Beauty is an orchestration of my short work For Constantin which was written for, and in celebration of, the birth of Constantin Tzyy Yaun Lin-Ballot. Born December 13th, 2002 to Florentin and Pei-in Ballot, two of the most gracious and generous people with whom I have had the pleasure to acquire friendship, this short piece is an attempt to capture a moment of simple beauty, a moment of joy inspired by the birth of their son. The piece is a sort of contemplative lullaby lasting approximately four minutes.

*****

The Stars Shall Look Not Down
The Stars Shall Look Not Down was written largely during the months of October and November 2001 for Shawn Eugene Storer and the joint forces of the Chesapeake Youth Repertory Orchestra and the CYSO Flute Choir. The inspiration for the work comes from a poem by Edgar Allan Poe entitled “Spirits of the Dead”. The poem’s imagery is very specific and at the same time very general, allowing a great deal of room for interpretation. Because of this, the interpretations of the poem yield a great variety of orchestral textures and sounds that are explored throughout the piece. After reading through the poem a number of times, it struck me that the mood of the poem, while filled with melancholy images, contained an alternate mood, an “undertone”, that was gentle, comforting, and even somewhat uplifting. The title of the work comes directly from the third stanza of the poem:

The night, tho’ clear, shall frown-
And the stars shall look not down
From their high thrones in the heaven,
With light like hope to mortals given-…

In short, the work is an exploration of the poetry. Anyone familiar with Poe’s fantastic tales of wonder, mystery and horror knows that he does not rely on a subtle voice. This work is similar in that regard. The ideas for the end of the work, light and hope, come from the same stanza presented above. It is my hope that the last section of the work will be a welcome and rewarding shift of mood. The duration is approximately 16 minutes.

The work is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, 2 percussion, flute choir (2 piccolo parts, 5 flute parts, alto flute part, and bass flute part), and strings.

The Stars Shall Look Not Down was funded in part by the Copying Assistance Program of the American Music Center.

*****

Nor’easter (Study for Orchestra)
Nor’easter is a study of various orchestral ideas, colors, and techniques. It lasts approximately six minutes, and has the overall character of a raucous fanfare. The work is scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, english horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 percussion, harp and strings.

*****

Red Moon
Red Moon was written during the months of September and October 2000. The inspiration for the work is taken from two sources. The first is an earlier piece of mine, Twilight Night, for soprano and piano. The harmonic language for Red Moon is largely based on this earlier work. The second source is a poem by Robert Graves entitled Arrears of Moonlight. The imagery of the poem provided both the subtle and more aggressive moods and gestures of the piece.

The work is cast in a single progressive movement. The french horns and tuba present the first instance of a chord progression that is used and treated in various ways throughout the piece. Although no repeated material is presented over the course of the piece, five structural pillars frame the larger sections of material and unify the work.

The work is scored for 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 3 oboes, 3 clarinets (3rd doubling bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, 3 percussion, harp and strings.

*****

Momentum
Momentum is a short work for traditional wind ensemble. The work is divided into two primary sections. The first is dominated by woodwinds and the second by brass and percussion. During the first section melodies are introduced over increasing rhythms until a fast tempo is firmly established. Once this tempo is established, the work builds to its climax which occurs about two thirds of the way through the piece. The brass and percussion dominate the remainder of the work in a relentless manner with additional doublings and commentary by the woodwinds.

*****

The Flames of Imbolc
The Flames of Imbolc is a work inspired by the ancient Celtic harvest festivals. These festivals are commonly referred to as “fire festivals” because of the elaborate celebrations and bonfires that are traditionally held to welcome the coming of a new season. Imbolc occurs during the peak of winter when the earth is coldest, but when the sun begins to rise higher with each coming day.

The hope that future harvests will be fruitful is the theme of the festival. This applies not only to an agricultural harvest of plenty, but for a harvest of personal growth as well. Imbolc, also known as Candlemass, takes place indoors unlike the other fire festivals because of the harsh weather during this time of year. In place of the traditional bonfire, many, sometimes hundreds, of candles are lit indoors representing divinity in each of us, and the strength to make our hopes into realities.

The work lasts approximately 12 minutes and is not intended as a strict programmatic composition. Instead, it draws upon the various themes and images of the Celtic festival for material and direction, evoking the harshness of winter, the rising sun, and both bonfire and gentle sea of flame.

The work is scored for 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, english horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 percussion and strings.

*****

Episodes for String Orchestra
In an average day you normally experience a variety of emotions that interject your overall mental state. The term “mood swing” is often used to try to capture these continuously shifting feelings. These pieces are meant to reflect those very brief and episodic actions or moods. Each movement of this work is a developed situation that is integral, but at the same time separable, from the continuous scheme of our mental state. Specific rhythmic figures, harmonies, melodic patterns, orchestration techniques and so on are used to present these distinctive episodes. This version, for string orchestra, is an arrangement of the string quartet by the same name.

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Chamber Music


Devil in Moscow
Devil in Moscow is a fantastical character suite for viola and harpsichord based on personas from the novel The Master and Margarita by Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov.  The primary movements are based on three of the novels principal, and most flamboyant, characters: Woland (the devil), and two members of his retinue: Behemoth and Azazello.  Two short interludes separate the primary movements.  Devil in Moscow was given its premiere by the Allemagnetti Duo on May 10, 2009 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall in New York City.

Each movement is inspired by specific events pertaining to the characters, and each contains a related musical quote.  Azazello, a demon in human form with flaming red hair, protruding fang, and who wears a pair of cracked pince-nez spectacles, is Woland’s right-hand man.  Although capable of inexplicable cruelty, he is also demonically suave, and facilitates the transformation of the novels heroine, Margarita, into a witch.  A quote from MacDowell’s Hexentanz (Witches Dance) is embedded within the movement.

Behemoth is an enormous talking black cat with a fondness for vodka, chess and guns.  He provides many whimsical and comic moments throughout the novel, but often with severe overtones.  At one junction he hangs from a chandelier and opens fire on a group of law enforcement officials.  A quote from Liszt’s Totentanz (Dance of Death) is embedded within the movement.

Woland, the literally sly devil, relishes the chaos and pandemonium he creates on both small and large scales.  He tortures, more mentally than physically, the “Master”, Margarita’s great love (thereby torturing her as well), and performs “black magic” at the local variety theater, eventually causing a panic stricken audience to flood the streets of Moscow.  A quote from Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz is embedded within the movement.

*****

Mosaics
Two movements comprise this eight minute work for wind quintet.  They were inspired by simple and contrasting imagery.  The first mosaic, Shadowdrifts, was inspired by sunlight being filtered through tree branches, creating shadows that slowly and gently made their way across a section of landscape on an almost windless day.  The second mosaic, Emberspark Flitters, was inspired by the quick and unpredictable dancing about of small embers from a campfire.  In contrast to the slow sustained soundscape of the first movement, the second is very animated, striving to capture some of the spontaneous and unpredictable nature of sparks and embers.

*****

Manic Aggressive, Schadenfreude, Voodoo Stomp & Zyphyr
These four works for flute, piano and string quartet were commissioned by the "New Music for a New Audience" project.  They are inspired by modern rock music and its traditional forms.  The pieces were written for, and are dedicated to, the Cleveland Chamber Collective who gave their premieres on October 6, 2008 at Cleveland State University.

*****

Villanelle
The Villanelle is a French poetic form dating back to the late sixteenth century.  Before appearing in literary form it existed as a rustic peasant song in Italy, the word villanella coming from villano, or peasant.  Faithful to these indigenous Italian songs, the French literary form consists of 19 lines; a series of five tercets and a quatrain.  The primary feature of the villanelle is the alternating refrains between sections.  This can be diagramed as:

A-1-B;  2-3-A;  4-5-B;  6-7-A;  8-9-B;  10-11-A-B.

My interest in this form lies in the interplay of repeated and varied elements.  The charm, as well as the challenge, becomes the successful integration of the varied material that contrasts and justifies the repeated refrains.

20th century interpretations of this literary form allow for variation within these refrains. Elizabeth Bishop’s 1976 poem “One Art” reflects on the themes of loss and creation that inevitably coexist when an artist revises an established genre.  With each variation both the original form and the original refrain are altered, but never completely lost.  Revision does not necessitate forgetting, but instead allows space for the growth of new material and thus the evolution of an art form.

Villanelle was commissioned by, and is dedicated with admiration and respect to Lavinia Meijer who has given many superb performances of my work Visions in Twilight for harp solo.  I am deeply grateful to Ms. Meijer for her role in the works genesis. 

Villanelle was first performed on March 10, 2007 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam by Lavinia Meijer and Tjeerd Top.

*****

Persist
Persist is a work of unyielding extremes; its music often comprised of sustained pitches, resolute chords, and rapid passagework. The ensemble itself is divided into two groups: trio and quintet. In many instances the trio acts as soloist, but the groups work together as well.

The Piece begins with fixed pitches being played by the trio that quickly develop in scope and activity. The quintet, providing a bit of a background, begins with repeated pitches of a spacious and random nature. This music progresses to a frenzied state and gives way to passagework instigated by the trio. A moment of relative calm is presented before the work erupts in a section dominated by quadruple stops and various commentary by both groups. A section of sustained pitches that follows gives way to a middle section of softer and more gentle music, although lingering on familiar harmonies. The final section of the work calls for additional rapid passagework before the music begins to corrupt itself and break apart.

Persist was commissioned by and is dedicated to Florent Renard-Payen and the Tarab Cello Ensemble.

*****

Triptyclysm
Triptyclysm was commissioned by, and is dedicated to, the Tonus percussion trio. The piece is comprised of three major sections, generally: 1) drums – 2) mallet instruments – 3) drums. The first drumming section is concerned with an overall sound that progressively increases in overlapping rhythms and intensity until it finally begins to break up and segues into the middle section dominated by vibraphone and marimbas and is pointillist in approach. This middle section soon includes additional instruments that ornament the backdrop of the mallet instruments and presents music of a more free nature that contrasts the previous material of the section. The third section, again dominated by drums, finally finds the ‘beat’ oriented (though not entirely) music that has been elusive until this point.

The works success hinges on the specificity of the performers to accurately play the multitude of overlapping layers and complex rhythms that are presented in the various sections. At times the players are called upon to improvise. This includes the violent climax of the work, which occurs approximately two-thirds of the way into the third section, and the very end of the work (which to an extent replicates the frenzy of the previously mentioned climax). Improvisation at this point achieves two important results. First, it assures that each performance of the work has a significant potential of being quite unique if desired. Second, it gives the performers the freedom to draw upon their individual technical strengths and to exploit these to their full. After all, percussionists hit things for a living; who better than the players themselves knows how to achieve a truly bombastic sound.

*****

Little Suite: Duo for Two Violins
Duo for Two Violins was written with somewhat younger but more advanced students in mind. The work consists of three relatively short movements. While they may be performed individually, the movements are very rewarding when performed as a complete work.

I. The first movement is fairly straight forward and in general should be performed with a heavy and majestic feeling.

II. The second movement is a little fugue where each entrance of the subject is marked with a smiley face. There is one frowny face that occurs in measure 18. This is a “false” entry since the subject is not stated in its entirety. The entire movement is to be played with a fairly rapid tremolo except for the two instances of staccato notes in m’s. 11 and 20. The glissando figures should be played tremolo also, and should be executed to a high, indiscriminate pitch. The glissandos in the middle section may be executed to a moderately high pitch in order to save extremely high pitches for the very end. The high indiscriminate pitches of the glissandos do not have to be in tune. When the sul ponticello indication is reached in each of the parts, they should remain ponticello through the end of the movement. If the students so desire, mutes on both violins may be used throughout the movement for a different effect.

III. The third movement is by far the most difficult. Staccato bowings are used to great extent in this movement, however, détaché should be used in places such as m. 13. It is important to note that while détaché means that each note is bowed separately, the notes should be joined together smoothly. Bartok (or snap) pizzicato is used in this movement and should be played in the normal way; the string is plucked with great force and rebounds against the fingerboard. In one spot, m. 83, left hand pizzicato is called for.

The timing indicated at the end of each movement is an ideal, taking metronome indications into consideration. The movements may be performed at slightly slower tempos than indicated, but not so much that they lose their integrity.

*****

Three Pieces for Flute and Guitar
The first of the three pieces was constructed using the Fibonacci series. The pitch material itself is generated from the series and is used in conjunction with the form of the piece, which is dictated by several golden sections derived from the series. The number of measures, tempo and the “ideal” indicated timing of the piece also relate directly to the Fibonacci series. My intent was to create a piece of music that is governed by very specific “rules”, yet sounds as though it is very free.

The second piece is more pastoral in mood and explores a few ideas of echo. The pitch material from the first piece is also used in this movement, but at times various pitches have been taken away from the primary “set” to create a more diatonic sound.

The full set is used again in the third movement, this time exploiting dissonance within the set. Even though pitches are specified, the score is somewhat more graphically oriented. It unfolds over a time scale of three minutes and gives the performers a little more room for interpretation.

*****

Episodes for String Quartet
In an average day you normally experience a variety of emotions that interject your overall mental state. The term “mood swing” is often used to try to capture these continuously shifting feelings. These pieces are meant to reflect those very brief and episodic actions or moods. Each movement of this work is a developed situation that is integral, but at the same time separable, from the continuous scheme of our mental state. Specific rhythmic figures, harmonies, melodic patterns, orchestration techniques and so on are used to present these distinctive episodes.

*****

Introduction and Scherzo (for violin & cello)
The work begins with music that is presented in a quasi cadenza style.  After this brief statement, which alludes to music of a somewhat serious nature, and which introduces harmonies and gestures for the remainder of the work, the piece begins its forcefully playful scherzo. The instruments pass melodies back and forth against accompaniment from the other. A section of subdued music follows which recalls bits of the introduction, and explores more sonorous aspects of the material. The instruments try to begin the scherzo again, but interrupt themselves continually with new material that is juxtaposed with the previous. After a short time the duo takes up and embraces the new music which is steeped in Bartókian aggressiveness. The section plays itself out, and the work ends with fragmented melodic gestures of the original scherzo. The work lasts approximately seven minutes.

*****

Introduction and Scherzo (for string quartet)
The work begins with music that is presented in a quasi cadenza style.  After this brief statement, which alludes to music of a somewhat serious nature, and which introduces harmonies and gestures for the remainder of the work, the piece begins its forcefully playful scherzo. The instruments pass melodies back and forth, often working in pairs, against pizzicato accompaniments. A section of subdued music follows which recalls bits of the introduction, and explores more sonorous aspects of the material. The instruments try to begin the scherzo again, but interrupt themselves continually with new material that is juxtaposed with the previous. After a short time the quartet takes up and embraces the new music which is steeped in Bartókian aggressiveness. The section plays itself out, and the work ends with fragmented melodic gestures of the original scherzo. This work is a complete revision, expansion and arrangement of a work with the same title composed for violin and cello duo five years earlier. The work lasts approximately seven minutes.

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Vocal Music

Verse Surges Forth


*****

Three Poems of Pablo Neruda

*****

Handfuls
Handfuls is a collection of short pieces for soprano and guitar that interprets the poetry of Carl Sandburg. The poems are written in simple forms, containing a single thought, idea or theme as their focus. The music often mirrors the form of the poetry, utilizing a few primary musical ideas and harmonies, and is cast in simple through-composed, binary and ternary forms.

*****

Songs of the Sea
Songs of the Sea is a cycle for tenor and piano based on the poetry of Carl Sandburg, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and text that I have adapted from Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick. The imagery of the texts inspired the vocal line, accompaniment, and ocean sounds found in each of the songs. The last song in the cycle, ‘Nantucket’, is especially meaningful to me for extra-musical reasons. In addition to numerous modest nautical adventures, my family spent a few summers living aboard a sailboat we owned during my teen years on Nantucket island. The island’s (and the surrounding water’s) natural beauty and history has had a deep and lasting affect on me. The cycle is dedicated to my father, the true sailor of the family, who has plotted many a course through Atlantic waters up and down the New England coast and beyond.

*****

Five Poems of James Wright

*****

Twilight Night

*****

Two Poems of Robert Frost

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Solo Instrumental Music


Sizzle
Sizzle was written for, and is dedicated to, Lavinia Meijer.  It was composed specifically with her fiery performance personality and virtuosic technical facility in mind.  The piece is a very fast paced barrage of small, repeated note gestures, arpeggios, and figurations that often alternate evenly between the hands.  Sizzle is part toccata, part etude, and part encore work at once.

*****

Monemvasía Pebbles: Four Miniatures for Flute Solo
Monemvasía Pebbles was written during my brief travels in and around the town of Monemvasía on the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece in August, 2009.  The pieces are all very short, based on the same material, and vary greatly in character.

*****

Sprocket!
Sprocket! for cello solo explores, contrasts and develops a small amount of musical material which comes from an earlier work entitled Persist for cello octet.  Like the workings of a sprocket that engages the links of a chain, this piece is built upon the harmonic material and chordal configurations that unify the earlier work.

Sprocket! was written for, and is dedicated to, Florent Renard-Payen and the members of the Tarab Cello Ensemble who gave the premiere, and many subsequent performances, of Persist.  When I first met Florent in Boston, shortly after he had arrived in the United States, he already had an excellent command of the English language.  He enjoyed learning new words, the more unusual the word the better.  Sprocket was one such word.  The exclamation point in the title comes from the boisterous manner in which Florent used to shout this particular word.

The first performance of Sprocket! was given by Florent Renard-Payen at Northwestern University’s Vail Chapel on May 6th, 2007.

*****

Desmodus Rotundus; or, Night of the Full Blue Moon
Desmodus Rotundus; or, Night of the Full Blue Moon was written during the last few days of July, 2004. The last day of composition, July 31st, coincided with a full moon. The term ‘blue moon’ is used to denote two occurrences of a full moon within a single month. The piece is based on a four-note motive that undergoes various transformations throughout. Lower and mid registers of the instrument often dominate the piece, exploring full and lush tone qualities available.

*****

Ceol Báisteach Toirneach Tintreach
Ceol Báisteach Toirneach Tintreach ('Rain-Thunder-Lightning Music' in Irish Gaelic) for solo marimba, was
commissioned by and is dedicated to Stacey Duggan. The work was begun in June of 2004 in the Russian
town of Tver and was completed in Bloomington, Indiana in August of that year. It is sectioned into five
large parts, all based on the same material. The title reflects the various musical characters contained
within the contrasting sections.

*****

Amhrán Slán
Amhrán Slán [Farewell Song] is a relatively short work for harp of only moderate difficulty based on the tune O’Carolans Farewell by the Irish harpist Turlugh O’Carolan. O’Carolan traveled about Ireland for forty five years, largely at the start of the eighteenth century, composing and performing his works. Like most of his compositions, the tune O’Carolans Farewell exists only as a single line melody.

*****

Visions in Twilight
Visions in Twilight was written for the Turkish harpist Ceren Necipoğlu who gave its premier. The work is rhapsodic, consisting of a number of linked sections. During the first section of the piece, the harp is seeking direction; it explores the various moods, techniques and harmonies that the rest of the work is based upon. The second section contains music of a determined and somewhat violent nature and is meant to be performed with a bit of dazzling spectacle. The music then segues into a more serene adaptation of the previous material, and in the final section juxtaposes the moods and material from the opening and middle sections of the work. Visions in Twilight was presented at the 8th and 9th World Harp Congresses in Switzerland and Ireland, was a required repertoire choice for the third round of the 2004 USA International Harp Competition, and has received numerous performances around the world.

*****

Perpetual Moments
Perpetual Moments is a straight forward composition cast in four major sections. The first section is propelled forward, for the most part, by constant eighth note motion. The second and third sections contain slower, contrasting material. The last section is an altered and extended reprise of the first. Basic techniques such as slurring pitches to open strings and open strings to fretted pitches, playing unison pitches on adjacent strings in close proximity, natural and artificial harmonics, changes in tone color, and tambora (striking the strings near the bridge with the thumb) are used throughout the piece. The duration of the work is approximately eight minutes.

*****

Nanna's Lament
Nanna was the Norse goddess of purity, and wife of the much beloved god of light, Balder. The death of Balder is explained in Norse myth, and is the basis for this work. As the piece begins, nanna’s lamentful tears fall, and her mournful melody is heard. The middle section describes the circumstances leading to, and causing, Balder’s death. The last section is a reprise of the first. The piece ends, as the myth goes, as she leans over her husbands body and falls lifeless beside him. The work lasts approximately six minutes.

'*****

Sonata for Solo Violin
The work Sonata for Solo Violin is comprised of four movements that utilize a twelve tone row. The first movement is cast in sonata form; the second is a sort of heavy dance; the third a free lyric style, and the forth a fast and agitated scherzo.

*****

Sonata for Solo Violoncello
Sonata for Solo Violoncello was completed in Illinois during January 1993. It was written for, and is dedicated to, Florent Renard-Payen. The work is composed in a sonata-rondo form and focuses on minor modal and tonal harmonies. Flourishes and rapid passage work in the upper register of the instrument demands virtuosic playing and stamina on part of the performer. There is a scordatura tuning for the cello which creates a tritone between the two lower strings. In many passages this lower tuning lends to an attractive percussive effect. The work lasts approximately seven and a half minutes.

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Piano Music

Cosmopolitan Etudes: Book 2 (etudes 7, 8, 9 and counting...)
Book 2 of Cosmopolitan Etudes expands ideas first presented in Book 1.  Many of the etudes are based on the same organizational principles as the first book, but they are now developed in much more significant ways.  The first three etudes of this book total about 12 minutes of music (versus 10 minutes total time for the complete first book).

*****

Album: Beginning & Intermediate Pieces for Piano
This Album consists of six short piano pieces of various traditional characters. A few are rather simple, while others will take more work from the intermediate pianist. The pieces incorporate melodies and harmonies based on the octatonic scale in order to acclimate the student to “more” modern sonorities. It is further hoped that these pieces will spark an interest in young pianists to explore the music available in the modern piano repertoire.

*****

For Constantin
For Constantin was written for, and in celebration of, the birth of Constantin Tzyy Yaun Lin-Ballot. Born December 13th, 2002 to Florentin and Pei-in Ballot, two of the most gracious and generous people with whom I have had the pleasure to acquire friendship, this short piece is an attempt to capture a moment of simple beauty, a moment of joy inspired by the birth of their son. The piece is a sort of contemplative lullaby.

*****

Cosmopolitan Etudes: Book 1 (etudes 1 - 6)
This set of six etudes for piano was written while I was on vacation in Europe at the end of July 2002. Most of the etudes were written in Italy, one in France and one in Switzerland. All were written during the tranquil train rides from one city to the next. I consider them etudes in composition as well as technical etudes for the pianist since I was determined to compose one etude per train trip (usually lasting no more than four or five hours). I relied on a favorite system of numbers, established simple forms, and except for the last etude in the set, managed to complete them all within the relatively short rides.

*****

Abstra
Abstra is a work for solo piano and electronic tape (CD). The piece begins with piano alone. When the tape part enters, approximately one minute into the work, it provides a constant backdrop for material presented by the piano. The tape part itself was largely constructed by stretching and altering ordinary piano sounds. The work lasts approximately nine minutes.

*****

Peculiar Albatross
In the midst of working on a few larger works, a number of smaller ideas, fragments, and gestures for a short piano piece began to interfere with their composition. I sketched out the ideas to come back to later, but try as I might, I could not continue the larger works until I had completed this piece. The work is a complex organization of sporadic thoughts and ideas that are weaved into a short tapestry of purely musical expression. It lasts approximately three minutes.

*****

Allegro Risoluto
Allegro Risoluto is a short showpiece, somewhat akin in mannerism to the Allegro Barbaro of Bartók. The work builds in intensity for roughly a minute, finally erupting in loud climactic passages before subsiding into music of a serene and contemplative nature. This does not last long before the more vigorous music once again seizes control, moving to the close of the piece.

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