Fight or Flight
The third of 3 pieces commissioned by the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2018-2019 season.
Commissioned by the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra as the winner of the
2018 Classical Evolve Competition
Premiered by the IPO, Stilian Kirov music director.
Cut My Legs From Underneath Me (5 minute preview)
A cheerful, lighthearted melody persistently works to gain momentum, and is constantly disrupted in various ways. Beginning with a rhythmic figure shared by the flutes and oboe, the melody is first heard in the trumpet and french horn, but is quickly cut off by a swell of timpani and bass drum. The violins then take up the tune before also succumbing to the percussive interruption. The low strings and bassoons try to reinvent the theme, but lapse into a dream-like state punctuated by more percussive rambunctiousness.
As the second attempt fades away with a solitary trombone, a new mood interrupts, the harp and celeste introducing a new set of a harmonies underneath a dark orchestral texture. Yet before this uninviting tune can take hold, the brass and winds return to a fragmented version of the opening theme and launch the strings into an uptempo version of the piece's beginning, the theme enjoying its longest uninterrupted span yet.
Eventually, however, the low strings bring back the ominous harmonies heard earlier in the harp and celeste, and the joyful tune has to work harder than ever.
With one last effort, the violins and violas start a vigorous race to the finish, bolstering the rest of the ensemble to what could be a triumphant finale, but it is suddenly abandoned. We are left with only a string quartet who, without a shred of the original melody, begin to bring the piece to a more melancholic conclusion.
Commissioned by the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra as the winner of the 2018 Classical Evolve Competition
Premiered by the IPO, Stilian Kirov music director.
Loosely, this piece is a journey from chaos to unison. It starts with the entire orchestra playing every note in the chromatic scale at once, a sort of “big bang” that launches the piece into a densely orchestrated beginning. After a time this heaviness melts away slightly, giving way to a more fluid sound, and melodic fragments from the beginning can be heard again briefly in the brass, fighting against dissonant strings and winds.
Any respite to be found is short-lived, however, as the opening chord is heard yet again. The percussion section takes over, and underscores an angular bass trombone solo with the help of the piano, harp, and strings. The trombone gives shape to the melody that struggled to take form in the beginning, while still being melodically uncertain in itself. It then passes the baton to the piano, which tries even harder to give legs to the elusive theme, but in the end only fragments it further as the rest of the orchestra returns for a wild, militaristic march. Mocking winds and strings battle against brutish brass interjections, with the struggling melody fighting against it all. Finally, everything coalesces and then dissolves, and for the first time, the melody is heard in full in the alto flute. This relief bolsters the rest of the orchestra to a unified finale, where eventually every member of the orchestra is found playing the same figure together.
Commissioned by the Seattle Youth Symphony,
Stephen Rogers Radcliffe music director
Hraun: A Saga for Chamber Orchestra (5 minute preview)
Inspired by a portion of the Icelandic Eyrbyggja saga, this piece evokes the creation by hand of a road through the Berserkjahraun, a lava field in Iceland's Snæfellsnes peninsula. The story follows two Swedish Berserker warriors as they are tasked with building the road in exchange for the marriage of a local farmer's daughter to one of the warriors.
Winner of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra's 2018 Classical Evolve Competition, premiered by the IPO, Stilian Kirov music director.
The Riff's the Thing
A performed imitation of every ensemble/band/group's rehearsal process
The Calm Outside the Storm
This piece attempts to describe the fight to remain calm against a task or force that is anything but peaceful. A tranquil opening eventually builds to a violent middle section before regaining the opening serenity once more. The horn is the voice that struggles to maintain calm throughout, occasionally fighting with the piano or playing a more relaxed figure over the piano's busywork.
Musically, "Schizophrenia" is a competition between two ideas that seem to contrast in nearly every way. One is frantic and wild, never adhering to one key or mode, while the other is slightly more grounded and lyrical. These ideas begin to deteriorate, then converge in a cadenza that propels the piece to a violent conclusion.
Suite no. 1 for Violin and Mandolin
One of the first pieces I ever began work on, this duet for Violin and Mandolin attempts to weave folk elements into a classical setting. The first movement uses the melody of the Epitaph of Seikilos--considered to be the oldest complete composition with notation--reimagined as an Irish Jig that goes awry. "Meditation" provides a simple, peaceful interlude, and to end the piece, "Showdown" picks the energy back up, alternating soloistic features between the two instruments in a more rock/fiddle-inspired mood.