May Premieres

May 3: Two pieces for flute, viola and harp, "Lift" and "Cycle," commissioned by and premiered by Musical Chairs Ensemble in Staten Island. This is the culmination of my residency with this group all year. May 31: A new three movement piece (title coming soon) for the String Orchestra of Brooklyn along with musicians from Face the Music. I play in the SOB, and am excited to be writing for them for the first time.



My new 24-min, 5-movement piece for bluegrass string band, "Drawn" was premiered a couple weeks back in Colorado by Jake Schepps and Expedition. We then spent 3 days in the studio recording for a commercial release slated for late 2014 release. They'll be bringing the piece to the East Coast in January with performances in Portland, ME 1/17, Cambridge, MA 1/18 and New York, NY 1/19. Below's a live recording of the first movement, "Flourish," and a picture of us at the end of the recording session. Enjoy.



Commission for the Expedition Quintet

I'm very excited to announce that I've been commissioned to write a new multi-movement 25 min piece for the awesome Expedition Quintet. This group is a traditional bluegrass string band instrumentation (fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar and bass) led by Jake Schepps that is commissioning a series of pieces by composers that they will tour with and record. I've dabbled in various kinds of fiddle music all my life, but am excited to be plunged fully into this world and to be writing for these forces. I also bought a banjo (pictured) and am learning to play, which is great fun.

Performances: 12/6/13 Boulder, CO 12/8/13 Colorado Springs, CO 1/17/13 Portland, ME 1/18/13 Cambridge, MA 1/19/13 New York, NY


Three New Commissions

I am excited to announce three new commissions: two for soloists, one for large ensemble.

The large ensemble piece is for the exuberant LA chamber orchestra, wild Up, which they will premiere on April 17 at REDCAT as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Brooklyn Festival. I'm thrilled to be a part of this festival along with many of my friends (both from Brooklyn and LA).

The pieces for soloists are for bassist Eleonore Oppenheim and for pianist Michael Mizrahi. Both are excellent musicians with really interesting bodies of work they are commissioning from their composer peers, and I'm very happy to be a part of these projects. More info on the premieres of these two pieces coming soon.


Three New Pieces

I've just uploaded three new pieces from 2012 to my soundcloud for you to check out. One thing they have in common: all use plucked strings (theorbo, pipa and guitar). First is "Slink" written for Chatham Baroque and commissioned as part of their 20th anniversary celebration. It's for a baroque trio of violin, viola da gamba and theorbo.

Second is "Trailguide" performed by Wu Man, Kojiro Umezaki, Mark Dresser and Kjell Nordeson at the Carlsbad Music Festival in September. This piece was a directed improvisation, so the lion's share of the credit goes to the fantastic players. It's for pipa, shakuhachi, bass and percussion.

Third is "Contain" written for and commissioned by Musical Chairs Ensemble. I think of this one as a mix of Nirvana Unplugged and early Elliott Smith, and the pulsing minimalism of Steve Reich and early John Adams. It's for cello, guitar, bass and drums.




Here's a recording of "Fleet" #2 of "4 Pieces for Violin and Piano" from the premiere at the Mondavi Center at UC Davis in January also by the fantastic teenage musicians violinist Alexi Kenney and pianist Hilda Huang. I'm really happy with how this one came out.



Here's a recording of "Level" from the premiere at the Mondavi Center at UC Davis in January by the fantastic teenage musicians violinist Alexi Kenney and pianist Hilda Huang. Writing "Handoff" last October put me on a 3-piece kick of music with drones/pedals that included "within" and "Level," all written in quick succession in the fall.


A Wagner Matinee

I recently received a video of a collaborative dance-theatre piece by choreographer Laura Diffenderfer that I wrote the music and did sound design for. It is an abstract retelling of Willa Cather's short story "A Wagner Matinee" and was premiered at the Red Cloud Opera House in Red Cloud, Nebraska (population 1020), Cather's hometown. The performance in the video is from the New York premiere at the Merce Cunningham Studio in 2010. This excerpt comes from the extended middle section of the work in which Wagner's Prelude to Tristan und Isolde stirs up memories in the aunt of the story's narrator. Musically, I juxtaposed a processed recording of the Prelude with wind recordings evoking the harshness of the Nebraskan landscape. From this emerges a solo piano piece that is essentially a long minimalist deconstruction of the iconic chords of the Prelude. The piano solo starts sparsely at 2:34 and builds up eventually from there.


Early Works for Film

I recently was listening back through some of my older music, and was still remarkably happy with how my film scores sound. So, I decided to make a little collection of my favorites that haven't seen the light of day in awhile- kind of an EP- and put them online. These are largely written during my senior year in college and the year after (10 years ago!) and are for a variety of student projects and independent short films. They are scored for everything from solo vibraphone to synths to full orchestra. All that need a conductor were conducted by me. There's 7 tracks totaling 12 minutes. Give them a listen...


Handoff for DZ4

Back in early October while recovering from the Carlsbad Fest, I wrote a quick piece for the wind quartet DZ4. They had several (24 to be exact) friends to write a 2-3 minute piece in each of the major and minor key a la The Well Tempered Clavier. I got C minor, and chose to treat it very strictly: no accidentals and a C drone throughout. I also thought about the ensemble and how different the sounds of oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn are from each other (while all being in the same orchestral family) compared to say, the instruments of a string quartet. So, I decided to write a simple piece with two main elements (a melody and a rhythmic accompaniment) but that become interesting in their constantly changing colors as they are passed around the four instruments. The melody is seamlessly passed from instrument to instrument depending on which is most appropriate for the range and the character of each part of the melody. The rhythmic pattern on middle C stays the same throughout and alternates every other note between the instruments not playing the melody at the time. Through both of these ideas this piece puts a spotlight on an old technique of good chamber music playing: handing off a musical idea from one musician to the next. Hence the title: Handoff.