Duality – Recording

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.

Program Notes:

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.

More Information

When Great Trees Fall

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.

WGTF

Hiraeth for Choir – Recording

I’m beyond excited to share the premiere performance of my choir piece Hiraeth, performed this past February by the Central Michigan University Chamber Singers!

Hiraeth is near and dear to my heart as it was simultaneously the last piece I worked on in undergrad and the first piece I worked on during my master’s (I actually showed Frank Ticheli a very early sketch of the piece in a masterclass at WMU four years ago today, back when I was writing this for solo piano!). I channeled a lot of the emotions I felt during this transitional time in my life into this piece in order to portray the sense of yearning and sentimentality that the piece is about.

It was such a cathartic experience hearing the CMU Chamber Singers bring this piece to life with their moving and heartfelt performance after all of these years!

Program Notes:

Hiraeth (pronounced HEER-eyeth) is a Welsh term, loosely translated to a longing and nostalgia for home. More than mere homesickness, it is an expression of a bond for a home to which you cannot return; a home that never was. This piece portrays this feeling of eternal longing through unresolved dissonances and a melody riddled with anticipations and suspensions, feeling as though it is constantly chasing and unfulfilling the harmony. The text used for this piece was written by Tim Davis in 2007 and is as follows:

Hiraeth beckons with wordless call,
Hear, my soul, with heart enthrall’d.
Hiraeth whispers while earth I roam;
Here I wait the call “come home.”

Like seagull cry, like sea borne wind,
That speak with words beyond my ken,
A heartfelt cry with words unsaid,
Calls a wanderer home instead.

I heed your call, Hiraeth, I come
On westward path to hearth and home.
My path leads on to western shore,
My heart tells me there is yet more.

Within my ears the sea air sighs;
The sunset glow, it fills my eyes.
I stand at edge of sea and earth,
My bare feet washed in gentle surf.

Hiraeth’s longing to call me on,
Here, on shore, in setting sun.
Hiraeth calls past sunset fire,
“Look beyond, come far higher!”

Trumpet Sonata Consortium

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!

We have decided that the piece is going to be about the Coronavirus, both on a global scale as well Sam’s personal experience working in a pharmacy during the pandemic and contracting the disease. Tentatively, the titles for the three movements of the sonata are going to be Chaos, Solitude, and Bloom.

Chaos will depict the sudden and extreme adjustments to the early stages of the virus, with schools and businesses shutting down,  events being cancelled, and pretty much the whole world standing still and going into quarantine. The second movement, Solitude, will recount Sam’s experience with quarantining for two weeks after testing positive for the virus, but will also portray the general feeling of isolation and loneliness felt by many during this time. The final movement, entitled Bloom, will be an optimistic end to the piece, representing our society’s resilience as we more towards some level of normalcy (we’re not necessarily in this stage yet). Since these stages of coping with the virus didn’t always occur in a set order and often overlapped with one another, several motives and themes will recur throughout the three movement structure.

Entry Form

Consortium Fee: $100 ($50 due up front, $50 due upon completion of the piece)
Anticipated Completion: November 30, 2020
Duration: 12-16 minutes
Difficulty: Collegiate/Professional
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!

Marching/Pep Band Arrangements

Several of my arrangements for marching band and pep band are now available for purchase!

Arrangements include music from How to Train Your Dragon, The Greatest Showman, and Pinocchio, songs from bands Twisted Sister, The Romantics, and Ricky Martin, and pieces by composers Gustav Holst, Leonard Bernstein, and Michael Giacchino. I also have a handful of original compositions for marching band, including the short stand cheers that I wrote for the WMU Bronco Marching Band six years ago.

Band directors who are looking for custom arrangements for next school year are more than welcome to contact me as well! I’m happy to help in any way that I can.

Here is a performance of A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman, performed brilliantly by the 2019 Utica High School Marching Band!