Music

Second drift (2011)

instrumentation: mbira and marimba

duration: 7 min., 15 sec.

description/notes:

This piece explores the creative ambience of drifting — whether sand or snow or a drifting mind — forming and reforming shapes and sculpting ideas, moving at first in small particles and pieces, second, landing in new shapes or playing with light in the air, wherever stillness moves or wind amends.

 

Synthetic butterflies (2011)

instrumentation: flute and alto saxophone

duration: 7 min., 50 sec.

description/notes:

All life sings in the pulsing energy of its existence and dance in a natural movement to survive. If I could create something as exquisitely beautiful as a butterfly I would do so; but human art is limited to representational, reenacted, and imaginary things. My synthetic butterflies seek transformation, longing to live and fly, emulating the organic in a rhythmically driving dance. I find music far less exquisite than the organic world, but the two exist in symbiosis; music reflects and feeds life, while gaining flight on its breath.

Quartet for a quiet life (2010-11)

instrumentation: string quartet

movements:

I. On the inside looking up (5 min.)

II. Old hymns in the branches (5 min.), III. Going away in pieces like footprints (2 min., 30 sec.), IV. For such a time as this (8 min.)

total duration: 20 min.

description/notes:

The string quartet is based on two motives; the first represents human nature and the natural world. The second motive is taken from the hymn tune Pleading Savior (Plymouth Collection, 1855)and represents a simple, pure, childlike faith. The two motives never meet, except in transitions when neither is fully present nor completely itself. The quartet begins with the nature motive in an ethereal setting, as if yet unborn. The following movement steps mischievously between the two motives, and the third movement revisits the nature motive using sudden shifts between racing and stillness. The fourth movement places the hymn motive in contrasting sections of tense, thick-textured double stops, and energetic fiddling.

Duerme (2009) In Memoriam: David G. (1998-2009)

instrumentation: soprano and piano

duration: 4 min., 45 sec.

description/notes:

Duerme is a lullaby based on the single word, “sleep.” A mother soothes her child; the music becomes distorted, agitated, and mysterious as sleep nears. The child sings “dormiré” (“I will sleep”), the mother continues the lullaby, and the child begins to drift away (“me duermo,” roughly translated, “I put myself to sleep”). The music darkens in the piano and begins a laborious ascent, building resonance until the penultimate chord. The child sings once more, then suddenly slips away.

Quick sculptures (2009)

instrumentation: soprano saxophone and piano

duration: 6 min.

description/notes:

Los ruidos más leves erigen

súbitas esculturas

El eco las multiplica y las dispersa

The lightest sounds build

quick sculptures

Echoes multiply and scatter them

From “Trowbridge Street,” by Octavio Paz, tr. Eliot Weinberger.

Three preludes (2009) 

I. Into the wind

instrumentation: alto saxophone, cello, piano

duration: 4 min., 40 sec.

description/notes:

The first prelude is centered on the excitement and exhilaration of facing into the wind, arms outstretched, feeling the force of the wind and yet pressing forward into it. Latin and dance rhythms influence the entire movement, and quirky twists of humor intrude at times with sudden accents and harmonic shifts. The piano is featured often while the saxophone and cello take on a more accompanimental role.

II. Improvisation

instrumentation: alto saxophone, cello, piano

duration: 4 min., 55 sec.

description/notes:

The second prelude is introverted, lonely, and wandering. The lines of the three instruments twist and entwine in internal monologue, contemplating the thematic material from the previous movement as well as introducing material to be presented in the following movement. A theme too grotesque to be Bach emerges and is at last laid bare in the piano, one voice alone. Strange shapes grow and shrink away; the piano finishes by itself, thoughtful and melancholy.

III. Into the shadows

instrumentation: alto saxophone, cello, piano

duration: 4 min., 40 sec.

description/notes:

The third prelude is intense and menacing with nervous rhythms, dark colors, and diminished harmonies. The saxophone and cello combine at times as a single unit set against the piano. The tension erupts in the middle of the movement with quartal-flavored harmonies and extensive use of the lowest register of the piano. The piece concludes in quiet intensity with a low, sustained line in the cello and menacing reiteration of thematic material in the piano.

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