The home stretch of 2017!

2017 has already been an exciting year for me, and it will close with a bang! The year began with the continuation of my new teaching positions at Western Michigan University, and Madonna University, where I began adjunct appointments in the fall of 2016. Last month, I started my second year of teaching theory, composition, orchestration, and music technology at both schools, and I have had a wonderful experience working with a diverse array of students.

This year has also been full of exciting performances and world premieres. In January, my and conductor Kevin Fitzgerald’s concert presenting organization ÆPEX Contemporary Performance gave a performance at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, which featured my string trio, Moments, in addition to works by Lisa Coons, Kelly Moran, Baldwin Giang, and Pierre Boulez. In March, my and conductor Yaniv Segal’s  Sonata for Orchestra in C minor, a historically-informed orchestration of Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in C minor that we completed collaboratively, received its premiere performance by the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra under Yaniv’s baton. And, in April, mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen and violist Michael Hall premiered my song cycle Folio 2 at an ÆPEX Contemporary Performance concert in Ann Arbor, MI, which also featured my first song cycle for viola and voice, Folio 1, as well as works by Mara Gibson, Tony Manfredonia, Jessica Rudman, and other composers.This summer, I enjoyed the honor of teaching music composition and music theory at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp in northern Michigan. Here, in August, Cleveland-based pianist Shuai Wang performed my solo work For Piano at a faculty composition recital.

Also wonderfully exciting was my participation at the end of July in composer Gabriela Lena Frank’s new Creative Academy for Music. Gabriela, who is one of the most widely revered and in-demand composers in the country, hand-picked eighteen emerging American composers whom she personally invited to inaugurate her Academy over the course of this year. I was thrilled and humbled to be asked to be one of these composers, and joined my colleagues in late July at Gabriela’s mountainside farm in Boonville, CA to workshop new pieces for marimba duo with internationally-celebrated percussionists Chris Froh and Mayumi Hama.

Chris and Mayumi will premiere my marimba duo, Noa, and my colleagues’ works, at Sacramento State University’s Festival for New American music on November 8. On November 11, Yaniv Segal will conduct the second performance of our Sonata for Orchestra in C minor with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. In the spring of 2019, Yaniv will also lead a recording of this work and others with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, which will be released by NAXOS later in the year. Finally, from November 17-20, I will be in residency at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where I will do guest presentations with the composition and music theory departments.

Please continue to visit this site for more updates on my music, research, and teaching!

 

“Folio 1” Recordings!

This past June, I had the pleasure of traveling out to Kansas City, MO to hear mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen and violist Michael Hall premiere Folio 1, a new song-cycle they commissioned from me in January 2016. Folio 1 sets texts by poets Lauren Clark (whom I set in Bound, my 2015 song-cycle for Megan Ihnen and members of Latitude 49) and Hannah Ensor, as well as an anonymous source.

 

As you will hear, Megan and Michael gave Folio 1 a stunning premiere performance, which took place as part of Michael’s guest artist recital at the 2016 UMKC Composer Workshop. I could not have been more excited for the chance to work with Megan again, and to make Michael’s collaborative acquaintance. Moreover, I could be more grateful to composer Mara Gibson, who organizes UMKC’s annual Composer Workshop and whose gracious hosting made Folio 1’s premiere possible.

 

I’ve embedded recordings of Folio 1‘s six movements below, along with short program notes about each movement’s text and music.

 

Folio 1

 

I. I pulled a string out of my throat (Lauren Clark)

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The text for this movement comes from Lauren’s unpublished manuscript LACUUS, which she very generously shared with me for this project. Although Folio 1 is not a strictly narrative song-cycle, this movement reflects the same narrative perspective as movements III, IV, and V.

 

II. In Memory Of Reuben Shapley, Esq. (Anonymous)

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I found this movement’s text on a memorial plaque hanging on the wall of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, NH while I was visiting the city for the 2014 PARMA Music Festival. These words moved me deeply, and I immediately copied them down with the hopes that, some day, I would have the chance to set them to music.

 

III. I want to go home (Lauren Clark)

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This movement’s text also comes from Lauren’s unpublished manuscript LACUUS. I composed “I want to go home” using a personal iteration of Arvo Pärt’s tintinnbulation technique, which helped me capturethe sparce and austere beauty of Lauren’s words.’

 

IV. Listening to guitar (Lauren Clark)

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Again, this movement draws its text from LACUUS. While composing “Listening to guitar”, I found Lauren’s words to be sultry and sensual, which I aimed to convey with a deliberately oblique reference to the style and sexuality of mid-century jazz ballads along the lines of Chet Baker’s ‘My Funny Valentine’ or Johnny Hartman’s ‘They Say It’s Wonderful’.

 

V. I wake up on an airplane (Lauren Clark)

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This is the final movement that sets text from LACUUS. The alarm and alertness of Lauren’s narrator is embodied in the relative extremity of this movement’s rhythmic intensity, as compared with the rest of the cycle.

 

VI. Eat the fries (Hannah Ensor)

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I commissioned the poem set in “Eat the fries” from Hannah in the summer of 2014. Her text is intrinsically sarcastic and cleverly presented, and I aspired to capture these characteristics in my music. The message of this song may seem targeted at our nation’s current political situation, but, believe me, I lack the foresight to have made that coincidence intentional.

 

“Bound V” To Be Featured At The 2016 SXSW Festival!

I’m very pleased to announce that the premiere recording of “Bound V”, the final movement of my 2015 song cycle Bound, has been selected for CarpeDM Seize Des Moines’ “Music Mix: Volume III” and will be promoted at the upcoming South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive and Music Festival in Austin, TX!

 

Mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen – who premiered Bound, along with Christopher Sies, Andy Hall, Jacobsen Woollen, and Jason Paige of Latitude49, in March 2015 – took the lead in making this opportunity come to fruition. So, in addition to my tremendous excitement, I am extremely grateful to Megan for her friendship and commitment to this piece.

 

Bound received its second performance, with the same players, at the New Music Detroit‘s Strange And Beautiful Music VIII marathon concert last September. Last April, this same recording of “Bound V” was selected as a featured track on icareifyoulisten.com’s Spring 2015 Mixtape.

 

This summer, Megan will join forces with Chicago-based violist Michael Hall to premiere a new set of works for voice and viola. Like Bound, this new piece will set the poetry of Lauren Clark, along with poems by Arizona-based poet Hannah Ensor and other texts.

 

The world premiere performance of this new work will take place during the UMKC Summer Composition Workshop, where Megan and Michael will serve as guest artists, and subsequent performances are in the works for next Fall.

 

If you are at SXSW, you’ll be able to hear “Bound V” at the Des Moines Embassy from March 11-19. If you’re not headed to Austin this weekend or next week, you can listen to “Bound V” on the CarpeDM Seize Des Moines “Music Mix: Volume III” here. And, a full-length recording of Bound‘s premiere performance is available here.

“Bound” at New Music Detroit’s Strange and Beautiful Music Marathon

I am very excited to announce that my song cycle Bound has been programmed on New Music Detroit‘s ‘Strange and Beautiful Music’ marathon concert on September 19, 2015.

 

Bound was premiered in March by mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen, along with percussionist Chris Sies, clarinetist Jason Paige, saxophonist Andy Hall, and cellist Jake Woollen of the midwest-based chamber music ensemble Latitude49. You can listen to a recording of Bound‘s premiere performance here, on my SoundCloud page.

 

The upcoming performance of Bound will be part of Latitude49’s set this year’s New Music Detroit marathon, an annual event Latitude49 has played upon before. In 2013, the group played my piece, a five-note chord, seen from the porch of a curious mind… (a Latitude49 commission), on New Music Detroit’s ‘Strange and Beautiful Music VI’ program. You can listen to a recording of Latitude49 playing, a five-note chord, seen from the porch of a curious mind…, here, on my SoundCloud page.

 

New Music Detroit’s ‘Strange and Beautiful Music’ concerts are among the most highly-anticipated events in Southeast Michigan’s contemporary music scene. Last year, the concerts relocated from Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Art to the versatile chamber space at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, which also houses the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Support Latitude49’s Indiegogo campaign!

Latitude 49, one of my longest and most ardent collaborators, has just launched an Indigogo campaign to fund the completion of their debut album and commission a substantial new work from award-winning composer Gabriella Smith.

 

The group’s album will include a new recording of my work A Five-Note Chord, seen from the porch of a curious mind, which they commissioned and premiered in the spring of  2013. You can listen to the recording of the work’s premiere performance below:

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I also collaborated with members of Latitude 49, and mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen, this March to premiere my composition dissertation, Bound. You find a recording of that performance on my SoundCloud page.

 

In my time knowing and working with Latitude 49, I have always found them to be among the most skilled, professional, affable, and insightful performers of new music I have ever come across. Their enthusiasm for and commitment to living composers cannot be overstated, and I can hardly think of a group of musicians more deserving of the support of the contemporary music community. Please consider supporting Latitude 49’s campaign!

“Bound V” on the icareifyoulisten Spring 2015 mixtape!

I am very pleased to announce that Bound V – the final movement of my song cycle, Bound– is included in icareifyoulisten.com’s Spring 2015 mixtape!

 

The selected recording is from Bound’s thrilling premiere performance, and features internationally-renowned mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen, along with Chris Sies, Andy Hall, Jake Woollen, and Jason Paige of the accomplished chamber ensemble Latitude49. Nelson T. Gast is responsible for masterfully engineering the recording of Bound V you will find on the mixtape.

 

You can listen to the entirety of Bound here. I commissioned the work’s text from award-winning poet Lauren Clark. More information on Megan Ihnen, who shined in the debut performance of Bound, is available at her website. And, you can learn more about Latitude49, and their mission to engage diverse audiences with dynamic concert experiences that give a voice to today’s leading composers, at their website.

Icareifyoulisten is an award-winning blog dedicated to discussing and illuminating issues and events at the heart of contemporary music. Again, you can download the Spring 2015 mixtape here.

 

Three World Premieres in the Next Three Weeks!

I’m very excited to share information on a flurry of performances of my music happening over the next three weeks!

 

First, on March 6, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Wind Ensemble will premiere Chant-Fanfare, an energetic concert-opening work for antiphonal brass based on the “Puer Natus” chant melody. The performance takes place at 7:30 PM in Michelson Hall of the Noel Fine Arts Center on UWSP’s campus. Please visit UWSP’s performance website for more information.

 

The following weekend, First Presbyterian Church in Ypsilanti, MI will host a recital of my chamber music. The performance is at noon on Saturday, March 14 and features performances by a handful of my most talented and accomplished friends. Organist Colin Knapp, who is music director at First Presbyterian Church, will open the concert with the Michigan premiere of Contemplation on “Tercentenary”, commissioned by First Congregational Church in Ridgefield, CT for its three-hundred-year anniversary in 2013. Pianist Jeanette Fang will reprise her command-performance of Escapement from this year’s New Music Gathering, and will also play Four Little Pieces and For Piano, a 2014 commission by the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, CT.

 

The recital’s program also includes two world premieres. Chicago-based classical guitarist Jordan Knudson will premiere Late, a collaboration that has been nearly four years in the making. Finally, the keystone of the concert will be the world premiere of my composition dissertation, Bound, a song cycle for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble that sets poetry I commissioned from award-winning poet Lauren Clark. Renowned mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen will join members of the highly-esteemed new music group Latitude 49 to debut my latest composition in what will surely be a tour-de-force performance.

“Escapement” at University of Central Missouri

The tremendous and inimitable Jeannette Fang is performing two piano recitals at the end of the week at the University of Central Missouri. These performances feature my work Escapement, for prepared piano, along with works by Ligeti, Chopin, and Jeannette’s and my former University of Michigan colleague, David Biedenbender.

 

The concerts are on Thursday and Friday at 7:30 PM in UCM’s Hart Recital Hall. More information about the performances is available here.

“Escapement” at the Inaugural New Music Gathering

Pianist Jeannette Fang will perform “Escapement” at the inaugural New Music Gathering as part of a presentation she and I will give on writing excitingly, safely, and practically for prepared piano.

 

Our presentation/performance will take place on Friday, January 16, 2014 with more details to follow.

 

You can listen to Jeannette’s premiere performance of “Escapement” here.