I’m excited to announce that I’m starting a consortium for a 3-4 movement sonata for trumpet and piano with my good friend, trumpet phenom, and fellow WMU alum Sam Gustavson!
Sam and I have been in contact for the last few months figuring out the details and timeline for this piece and are eager to get started working on it. We’ve discussed taking influences from music ranging from traditional trumpet repertoire and Romantic era symphonies, to more modern solo and chamber pieces and even songs from bands like Dream Theater. Needless to say, this is gearing up to be a fun and unique project!
Consortium Fee: $100 ($50 due up front, $50 due upon completion of the piece)
Deadline to Join: August 31, 2020
Anticipated Completion: November 30, 2020
Duration: 12-16 minutes
Benefits to Consortium Members:
- Names of consortium members included on the title page of the score
- Exclusive performance and recording rights until Dec 31, 2021
- Input on musical material and title of piece
- Composer will travel to performances, if able
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I’m looking forward to collaborating with everyone on this piece!
The premiere performance of Duality, performed brilliantly by the Ann Arbor Pioneer HS Symphony Band under the direction of David Leach!
It was an absolute thrill and honor to write this piece for my alma mater, not only because I knew I would have the freedom to pull out all the stops for the piece, but because of how near and dear this ensemble is to my heart. I can’t begin to express my gratitude to Mr. Leach and the Symphony Band for their dedication to the piece and the passion, care, and nuance they put into this performance. This whole endeavor was such a dream come true and this concert will be a memory I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
The concept behind Duality is based on the philosophy of Yin and Yang, which describes how seemingly opposite or conflicting forces often interconnect and complement one another. The piece consists of two unique and contrasting sections which are formed by splitting each musical element into absolute, black and white dichotomies (fast and slow tempos, loud and soft dynamics, etc.). Simplifying and splitting musical elements in this way leads the initial section of the piece to be aggressive and chaotic while the other is calm and reflective. Additionally, the aggressive section of the piece consists primarily of variations of a descending melodic theme and minor harmonic progression, but mirror images of these components are created through inversion and negative harmony and are employed in the latter section of the piece.
These contrasting sections initially function independently, but the opposing elements meet and clash with one another later in the piece which leads to tension and apprehension as the incompatible melodies try to occur simultaneously. The roles of each melodic line seemingly change during this conflict, causing the traditionally chaotic descending melody to be elongated and played over an unstable variation of the formerly calm ascending melody. Through this discordance, the two contradictory forces slowly learn to understand one another and work together, giving rise to a triumphant recapitulation of the calm and reflective melody fused together with energetic material from the initial chaotic section. The piece concludes optimistically, but a final statement of the descending melody implies lingering tension between the two opposing forces.
This has been the most challenging and meaningful piece I’ve ever written. When Seamus Bennett first contacted me to talk about writing a piece in dedication to his father, Brian Joseph Bennett, who had just passed away, I was both humbled and completely intimidated by the request. So much of my music has been inspired by volcanoes, unusual weather patterns, or other trivial nonsense, so writing a piece to help Seamus and his family through this tragedy was an important, if daunting, responsibility.
Writing this piece about losing a father proved to be a deeply personal and emotional journey for me as well, as this June will be fifteen years since my own father passed away. Revisiting the thoughts and emotions I experienced during that time was poignant and uncomfortable, but expressing them through music in this way felt cathartic.
The title of the piece, “When Great Trees Fall”, comes from a poem by Maya Angelou that explores how we process and cope with the loss of a loved one. The piece is divided into two movements that each uses a line from the poem as its subtitle. The first movement, “Senses Eroded Beyond Fear”, depicts the immediate and visceral emotions after losing a loved one, alternating between somber numbness and illogical rage. The second movement, “Peace Blooms, Slowly and Always Irregularly”, represents the hopeful and optimistic sentiment that, even though there may still be lingering pain and sadness, time will bring healing and peace.
I am immensely grateful to Seamus and the Bennett family for trusting me to write a piece of this importance and sincerely hope that it will help them through the grieving process in some way.