On and On and

My new (and first) choral piece "On and On and" was premiered by Sacra/Profana at the Carlsbad Music Festival on September 20. It got a really nice review by Ken Hermann in San Diego Story:

"A recently completed choral work by Festival Director Matt McBane repeated an utterly simple text, “On and On and,” with unexpected rests and closely structured hockets that created a hypnotic, almost mystical spell. It was the piece on a rich program I would most eagerly hear again."

I'll post a recording here soon, but for now, here's my program note on the piece:

This summer I took a road trip that started with surfing in Baja California and continued with camping in the Sierras near Mt. Whitney and on into Yosemite. This trip came at the end of an extended period in Brooklyn (where I live), during which I was starting to feel particularly disconnected from the rhythms and cycles of nature. As I settled into the rhythm of camping every day, I thought about the text for the piece I was going to write for the choral group Sacra/Profana upon my return. I wanted to use something that dealt with the cycles of nature and fit into the musical ideas I was thinking about with interlocking patterns for the singers.

After a few dead ends (reading tide charts?), while in Yosemite I encountered quotes by John Muir on signs throughout the park. Prior to this, I was familiar with Muir as a naturalist, but had not paid attention to his writings. When reading them I was taken aback by how poetic they were.

At a particularly stunning viewpoint to at the entrance of Yosemite Valley, there was a sign with the following Muir text:

"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turns, as the round earth rolls."

Reading this, I knew Muir's writings were what I was looking for. So, I searched his books for the right text, and saw that more than once when referring to the eternal cycles of nature, he used the phrase "on and on." In that, I found my text (and my title), just the two words "on" and "and."

In "On and On and" the singers build up patterns first using only the word "on," then completing the patterns with the gradual addition of the word "and." As the piece ends the patterns break down removing the word "on," leaving only the word "and."


Carlsbad Music Festival

The Carlsbad Music Festival is coming up on September 19-21. This year, in addition to curating the Fest, I have a new choral piece "On and On and (after John Muir)" being premiered by Sacra/Profana, Art of Élan is playing my violin duos, and I am performing a short set of original music for solo violin as part of the Village Music Walk. The whole line-up is truly awesome and I highly recommend you attend if you're in Southern California.



Just got the CDs in the mail for my latest release: Jake Schepps Quintet's Entwined. This album of new music for bluegrass string band includes my 25 min Drawn and great new works by Marc Mellits, Matt Flinner and Gyan Riley. Drawn was recorded by the fantastic musicians, Ryan Drickey, Matt Flinner, Jake Schepps, Ross Martin and Eric Thorin. It won't be released until January, but I will have some to sell at upcoming gigs. Can't wait to get this out into the world!


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.