Cadences (2016)

Commissioned by Electric Earth Concerts, Cadences takes its inspiration from Richard Powers' novel Orfeo, which has some of the most beautiful and imaginative writing about music and musical compositions that I have ever read. Through the auspices of Electric Earth Concerts, I was able to collaborate modestly with Richard Powers on this piece -- he offers a reading from Orfeo as a prelude to my music. I must say, there are another four or five pieces I could compose that pick up on images and ideas in this passage.

Much of the music in Cadences is based on speech rhythms in the text of Orfeo. Words and phrases are subjected to musical development by reordering rhythms, adding embellishments, changing the melodic profile, reorchestrating, and the like, so it's not possible to find the original texts in the result. The performance by Jesse Mills (vln), Laura Gilbert (fl), Ben Fingland (cl), Raman Ramakrishnan (vc), Jonathan Bagg (vla), and Rieko Aizawa (pno) is stunning. They bring grace and buoyancy to the speech rhythms, making them seem easy to play (they aren't). I'll never forget a rehearsal exercise in which they played the opening of the piece with their backs turned to each other. Amazing.

This performance took place on September 25, 2016 in Baldwin Auditorium at Duke University.

Eternity's Sunrise (2015)

Commissioned and premiered by Doug Martin and the Langley High School Band Association as part of the school's 50th year celebration. I haven't written for a high school group since, well, high school. My music isn't easy to play, but this is an amazing performance by an excellent ensemble with a very talented conductor.

And here is a video of this performance in May 2018:

Ensemble of Found Metal (2014 - )

This is a work in progress. All metals were purchased at a recycling center. The used solenoids were purchased on ebay. I use SuperCollider (SC) to do live signal processing on the captured audio. SC also sends messages to an arduino which triggers the solenoids. The performance algorithm models the biological phenomenon of fireflies syncrhonizing their flashes over time. I did not let the algorithm run to completion in this example, but you can see groups of instruments come into sync.

The next step is to compose music for two human percussionists to play with the mechanical ensemble.

String Quintet (2013)

After two earlier collaborations with the Ciompi Quartet, I was pleased to be asked to compose a new work for them. Right around that time, I met Ashley Bathgate, and we discussed developing a project for her. After further conversation with the Ciompi Quartet, they suggested that I make my string quartet into a quintet. That turned out to be a very good idea.

This piece draws on just about everything I've tried to do as a composer over the last thirty years. It builds on my earlier collaborations with the Ciompi Quartet -- I truly know their playing after all these years -- and it is immeasurably enriched by Ashley's playing. Her gorgeous tone and imaginative phrasing were big inspirations. This performance took place in Baldwin Auditorium on Sept. 11, 2015.

Alarm Calls (2012)

When John Locke, director of the UNCG Wind Ensemble, asked me to compose a "toe-tapping opener" for the 2013 CBDNA Conference hosted by UNCG, I responded with Alarm Calls. It is not exactly a toe-tapper. Instead, it is a fast and intricate piece that repeats an insistent melodic pattern over and over, each time set to a different harmonization. The final section superimposes five different layers, each one asserting a different rhytyhmic and melodic pattern. Alarm Calls received its premiere on March 22, 2013 at the CBDNA Conference.

Passage (2010)

Commissioned by the American Bandmasters Association, Passage received its premiere on December 15, 2010 at the Midwest Music Clinic performed by the USMC Band ("The President's Own") under the direction of Captain Michelle Rakers. It was subsequently recorded by the Marine Band under the direction of Colonel Michael Colburn. Here is a recording of the band's performance at the American Bandmasters Convention on March 4, 2011.

There have been wonderful performances by student ensembles as well, including this exciting rendition by the Wind Symphony at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. Conductor Brian Diller really captures the narrative sweep I was after in this piece.

View a non-printable score.

Passage looks back at my earlier musical experiences. A prominent melody harmonized by the woodwinds comes from my Duo for Violins, but it has changed with age, so to speak, hopefully for the better. The piece is also a tribute to my earliest musical mentors who directed bands I played in (and wrote for) throughout my public school years.

YTTE (2008)

Commissioned by the Monadnock Music Festival, this is a wonderful performance by Laura Gilbert (alto flute), Jonathan Bagg (viola), and Dan Lippel (guitar). "YTTE" is the title of a utopian city designed by the early 20th-century architectural draftsman Achilles G. Rizzoli, in which buildings symbolize family members and friends. "YTTE" stands for "Yield To Total Elation."

Azaan (2006)

This is the last section of an hour-long music+media work called Awaken, a collaboration with the marvelous digital media artist Anya Belkina. The four sections of this piece -- Awaken, The Garden, Nasuh (see below), and Azaan -- take their inspiration from the work of the great Persian poet Rumi. An azaan is a call to prayer, and I was particularly drawn to a riveting recitation by Raghib Mustafa Ghalwash. I transcribed this beautiful recitation and used this as a foundation for much of the soprano sax part in my Azaan. This performance is by the fearless musicians of Zeitgeist, accompanied by live electronic sound played by me from a computer and keyboard. It begins with the final moments of Nasuh, which moves without pause into Azaan. Below is a picture from the concert showing Anya Belkina's magical visual setting for the performers.

Crowded with Voices (2006)

A remix of a segment from Azaan, which in turn is part of an evening long work for live video and ensemble called Awaken. The music is from a live performance by the wonderful musicians of Zeitgeist. The video is by Anya Belkina. The video was originally projected on three separate screens arranged as a triptych. The music combines transcriptions of actual "azaans" interleaved with original melodies.

Nasuh (2003)

Scored for soprano and string quartet, Nasuh is a setting of a "teaching story" by the great Persian Sufi poet, Rumi, as translated by Coleman Barks. Soprano Susan Narucki premiered the work with the Ciompi Quartet in February 2004, and subsequently recorded the work with in March 2005. This is a recording of that performance.

Anya Belkina, the talented painter, animator, video-maker, graphic designer, and Duke colleague prepared a beautiful program booklet and has set the entire piece a magical combination of video, animation, and photographed paintings and drawings as part of an extended multimedia project.

Bell Plates (2002)

Bell Plates is scored for percussion solo and electronic sounds. The soloist plays brake drums, aluminum pipes, woodblocks, bongos, tom toms, and suspended cymbals. The electronic part consists of samples of various drums, cymbals, and gongs. These are heard at the beginning of the piece in their original form. Later, these instruments are processed in Csound to resemble a variety of gongs and bells. Adam Sliwinski is the remarkable soloist in this live performance. Here is a picture of his set up.

Stomp (1988)

Stomp was a 60th birthday present for Jacob Druckman. It is here presented in a performace at Tanglewood in 1992.

Relations to Rigor (1987)

A composition for 15 instruments performed by the Netherlands Wind Ensemble + strings at the Holland Festival in 1993.

Small Change (1997)

A lovely performance by Karlyn Mason + Matt Sharrock of the Boston Percussion Group. I composed this piece for Nancy Zeltsman to give me a breather while working on my first string quartet.

The Dolphins (1995)

I composed this song as a contribution to the AIDS Quilt Songbook. The poem, by Richard Harteis, speaks of the endangered dolphin ("Nothing avails their animal innocence. Extinction is the unnatural act.") and draws a parallel to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

This beautiful performance of The Dolphins is by soprano Susan Narucki and pianist J.J. Penna at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in 2005. You can hear birds singing outside the shed where the concert took place.

American Landscape (2002)

I collaborated with photographer, sculptor, and video artist Bill Noland on a video called American Landscape. This project grew out of our participation in a production of Mao II by Theater Previews at Duke in April 2002. This production called for multiple screens of video and (almost) continuous sound/music for the duration of the play. Bill and I reworked excerpts from this work for American Landscape.

Quartet (1994)

Quartet was composed for Zeitgeist as part of a consortium commission from Meet the Composer. It is a fantastically difficult piece, so much so, that the excellent musicians of Zeitgeist had to resort to a click track to get through the premiere. Ten years later, they decided to revive the piece and have produced this stunning performance (w.o. click). Quartet is one of my "brainiest" pieces, filled with rhythmic and textural experiments that I'd never attempted before or have repeated since. After a decade of thinking that the piece was impossibly difficult, I now have a performance that realizes my ideas with all the daring energy and meticulous care a composer could hope for.

Spin Cycle (2001)

Spin Cycle was commissioned by H. Robert Reynolds for the University of Michigan Wind Ensemble. This piece marks the beginning of a series of works which tend to have fast tempi, conspicuous virtuosity, and a generally lighter expressive character than some of my earlier work. My first musical ideas were the swirling and spinning melodic figures which are heard throughout the piece. As it happens, these gestures circulate in a fairly rigorous cyclical pattern, leading to the whimsical title. This terrific performance is by "The President's Own" United States Marine Band under the direction of Lt. Col. Michael Colburn.


Human Gestures

Pedro and Olga Learn to Dance

A lovely recording of my marimba duo, Small Change, by Nancy Zeltsman and Jack Van Geem

Extraordinary Vistas

Susan Narucki and Alan Feinberg give a wonderful performance of The Dolphins on this recording

Signs, Shapes, and Symbols

The premier recording of Spin Cycle by the University of Michigan Symphony Band


Another recording of Spin Cycle by the University of North Texas Wind Ensemble

Bang On A Can Vol. 1

Lindroth conducts this performance of his spiky piece for tape and live ensemble Relations to Rigor

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