Personal Favorites

A list of some personal favorites amongst my pieces. This list is limited and doesn’t include all of my works, but does give a decent overview. This list includes recordings and links to scores when available, but not the detailed information (program notes, performance history, etc.) of the pages dedicated to individual pieces – click on a piece title to be linked over. Arranged in no particular order.

 

 

A second chandelier falls through clouded sulfur skies (2013)

for: Pierrot ensemble – flute, clarinet in Bb (+bass), violin, cello, piano, percussion
duration: 11’00″-12’00″

personal note:

In my first year at Brandeis I studied composition privately with Eric Chasalow. During this time I could tell that I was gaining a greater command of craft, but also felt more and more bored by the music I was writing, and therefore grew more and more frustrated with myself. The summer following (summer 2013), I started this piece and suddenly something clicked – everything seemed to fall into place and not only did I realize how much Eric had really taught me, I figured out how to apply those principles in ways that were interesting to me.

My personal favorite parts of this piece are the end of the bass clarinet solo (measure 134-147), the chord on beat 3 of measure 177, the G# in the piano right hand in measures 202-3, and measures 247-249. On the negative side, I feel that some elements of the first and second movements are somewhat weak, most notably the very opening, the transition into the end of the first movement, and some of the wind/string lines in the second movement during the piano/percussion-heavy sections.

score: A second chandelier [...] – score

 

Remarks from an Oratory Address (2014)

for: voice, 4-channel live electronics (max patch)
duration: 5’30″-6’00″

personal note:

This piece is my second attempt at using electronics and first time mixing it with a live performer. For some ridiculous reason, I decided early on in the process of writing this piece that I would perform it myself – a decision that caused me great grief as the project moved along. I usually don’t feel terribly nervous before performances, but I experienced the worst bout of stage fright before the premiere that I’ve had in years.

Of course, then I actually performed the piece and it was awesome. The decision to perform the piece was intended to push out of my comfort zone and try something new – for me, at least. I’m not a hardcore performer by any means, and have precisely zero prior experience doing so as a vocalist/actor. Well – I guess it worked? I used my own text, edited fairly significantly (for the better), and I think managed to blend music, text, narrative, and theater in an interesting way – something I’ve been trying to do off and on for years now. I’m eager to work in this electronics-plus-theater vein more. We’ll see what happens next time.

As the composer, writer, and performer for this piece I have a very a close relationship with the materials of the piece. My favorite parts of the piece are the rhythmic speaking sections, especially the second one toward the end of the piece, as well as just the text itself. I love this just as a piece of writing and think I achieved intense meaninglessness quite effectively. On the negative side, I think my performance isn’t as strong as it could be, and also that the pacing of the first half is a bit off-kilter (especially in its transitions from gesture to gesture).

Special thanks to Peter Van Zandt Lane for teaching a great class on Max/MSP at Brandeis and from whom I learned basically everything I know of it.

 

 

Still life in last night’s leftovers (2014)

for: voice, 4-channel live electronics (max patch)
duration: 10’30″

personal note:

I (apparently) write a lot of vocal works. As of this writing, over half of the pieces I have listed on this site are vocal works in some way. Over the course of the past few years, I have explored various different kinds of text for these, and have most recently primarily made use of my own writings. Poetry and writing has been a part of my life for a long time; I don’t actually remember a time in my life before I read, wrote, or recited poetry.

So my relationship with poetry is interesting in the context of writing music. My engagement with the text as a composer is different from anyone setting, say, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, since I am also often the poet. I can identify both strengths and weaknesses in this approach – I can write and edit a text specifically toward a musical project (and am more willing to heavily edit them), but I tend to treat the text as more sacrosanct and perhaps less interestingly than the possibilities suggest.

The poems used in this song are part of a series I have been working for the past many months. They are unique in my poetic output in that I have specifically avoided writing on the topics of love, romance, or sex; those themes are quite popular and I felt that my voice was not needed. However, for this series I opted to force myself to write an entire collection focusing on these themes – largely just to see what I could accomplish with or learn from them. I decided to imagine the collection as poems written by a man and a woman – sometimes to the other, sometimes as personal musings – as their relationship starts, develops, ends, and what happens afterward.

My favorite parts of this piece are measures 48-49, the mezzo line at measures 64-72, the harmonies from measures 109-113, and measures 168-169 (especially the passing Bb in the piano right hand). On the negative side, I think some parts of the second movement are weak, especially transitions from phrase to phrase, and could use some cleaning up and polish.

 

 

Entanglements (2011)

for: viola
duration: 11’00″

personal note:

Though I feel I have written stronger and more interesting pieces in the intervening years, this one still has a place as one of my favorites. It felt like a major personal turning point, musically, where I accepted/tried to copy Feldman’s influence. It was also the first time I wrote the piece on paper first (instead of at a computer), and personally I feel I can tell the difference. This piece has also never been performed.

 

 

 

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