link for Navagation bar.
Home Biography Works-Alphabetical Works-Solo Works-Duets Works-Small Ensemble Works-Large Ensemble Recordings Contact
link for Navagation bar.
Home Biography Works-Alphabetical Works-Solo Works-Duets Works-Small Ensemble Works-Large Ensemble Recordings Contact
A picture of mannequins in window.

Small Ensembles

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score (Almost) Like a Bat Out of Hell.

Commissioned and premiered by University of Iowa Wind Quintet on October 28, 2001 at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

NOTES: (Almost) Like a Bat Out of Hell, was written at the request of the University of Iowa Woodwind Quintet, who wanted a short encore piece. The result is this short (3 minute) fast, and humorous work, based on a chromatic wedge.

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score Chicago Chanson.

Written for and premiered by the Contemporary Chamber Players at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, May, 1992.

This work won an ASCAP Young Composers Award, 1992.

NOTES: The texts for Chicago Chansons were written for me by John Shreffier in the spring of 1992 under the title "tableaux". In setting these poems, I tried to capture the "essence" of each by exploring different relationships between the voice and the rest of the ensemble.

The vaguely surreal and atmospheric mood of the first poem, Lux, cal me, et volupte suggested a textural approach: here I treat the voice as an equal member of the ensemble - as "just another instrument" - with the words exploited mostly for their physical sounds.

The second, La ville lumiere, suggested a different process. I imagined sitting in the bar at the top of the Hancock Tower, looking down at the lights of the cars on Lake Shore Drive while hearing a jazz combo in the background. I created a collage of two opposing musical states: that of static and repetitive but slightly evolving musical objects as a background, on top of which I "pasted" a flexible vocal line. This song is to be heard with the sense of humor in which it was conceived.

Les jours s'en vont ... , the most dramatic of the three, finds recourse in the more traditional arrangement of soloist and accompanist. A pulsating ostinato accompaniment in the three instruments continues throughout the entire piece, but takes different forms for the different sections of the poem. As the poem describes transformation of land over time in the way a city springs up, covers up nature, and finally degrades, an evolution of the musical materials takes place but without losing their fundamental integrity. The final part of the song might be likened to a funeral dirge.

The two instrumental interludes help to connect the songs by further exploiting their musical materials.

Scores for Chicago Chanson are available from the composer.

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score Coriolis.

Commissioned by the SUNY Purchase Percussion Ensemble and the Oberlin Percussion Group. The piece was premiered in Oberlin, Ohio, April, 2007 and Purchase, NY, November, 2007.

NOTES: The Coriolis Effect is a “fictitious” force that is perceptible only to an observer on a rotating frame of reference, such as the earth. The Coriolis Effect, due to this force, is the apparent deflection of objects that are actually moving in a straight line in their own frame of reference. It is responsible for the direction of the rotation of cyclones (counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere) and other extremely large air and water masses. While popular mythology claims that the Coriolis Effect is responsible for the direction water flows down the drain of a sink or toilet in the two hemispheres, the shape of the basin and direction the water enters the basin have a far greater effect than the earth’s rotation. The Coriolis Effect for Percussion Quartet employs apparent rotation of musical materials and bodies.

Scores for The Coriolis Effect are available from the composer.

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score Insidious.

Written for and recorded by the California E.A.R. Unit. August 9, 2007. Arcosanti, AZ.

NOTES: Insidious started life with an explicit extramusical program when I was the recipient of some heinous behavior and wanted a way to channel my frustrations. The concert it was originally planned for was cancelled after I had only completed about two minutes, so I put the piece away, unsure if it would ever have a performance. After learning of a residency with the California Ear Unit, I resurrected the piece, shortened the original two-minute beginning, which now appears about 30 seconds in, and proceeded in an entirely new and more positive direction. The original title may no longer be relevant, but I liked the sound of it, so I kept it. The piece consists of drastically different types of musical gestures coexisting, breaking off and reappearing to take up lost threads later on, noise and jagged lines combined with romantic gestures, and allusions to real and remembered sounds.

Comercial recordings of Insidious are available. Click here for more information

Scores for Insidious are available from the composer.

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score No Free Lunch.

Commissioned by the University of Chicago to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first self-sustained nuclear reaction. Premiered December 2, 2017, Chicago, IL.

NOTES: No Free Lunch, for flute, percussion, and piano, was commissioned by the University of Chicago, Division of Humanities, for the University's commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the first self-sustained nuclear reaction, Chicago Pile 1 (CP-1). I chose to focus on the actual reaction that takes place inside a nuclear reactor: Uranium 235 isotopes (U-235) are bombarded with neutrons, and when one is taken up into the isotope it momentarily becomes a U-236 isotope. The U-236 then fissions into two or sometimes three smaller elements, with differing degrees of probability. My work uses the atomic weights 235 and 236, as well 238, from the most common form of uranium, U-238, to generate pitch and rhythmic material. Resonating instruments in the percussion, and prodigious use of the sostenuto pedal in the piano, including generation of sympathetic harmonics, represent the radioactivity of these elements.

In this work I tried to capture the idea of various possibilities of the experiments: attempts which fizzled out because of the lack of enough free neutrons or U-235, an attempt which goes too far, resulting in uncontrolled fissioning (nuclear explosion), and finally, an attempt which is just right, resulting in a continuous, self-sustained, nuclear reaction. In reality, however, even getting it "just right" means having to deal with radioactive nuclear waste for many life times. There is "no free lunch."

Scores for No Free Lunch are available from the composer.

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score Over The Top.

Commissioned by the Meridian Trio (Davis Brooks, violin, Kurt Fowler, violoncello, and Rene LeCuona, pianoforte) for a midwest tour. Premiered October 2002, Iowa City, IA. This work has been performed over 8 times around the country by different ensembles.

NOTES: Over the Top is an exploration of gesture and large-scale form. On the surface, Over the Top is quite conventional: a moderately fast first movement, a slow second movement, a scherzo-like third movement, followed by a very fast fourth movement. All of the material is derived from the opening four-note cell (G, G#, F, A, or 0124), and the motives are introduced in the opening movement. The second, third and fourth movements each develop different ideas introduced in the first movement and are equally related to it – more like spokes on a wheel than a set of theme and variations, in which each variation moves farther and farther away from the theme. The second movement is a sort of gross expansion of the first movement. I conceived of it as two large phrases, although it uses more than just the opening material. The third movement, for solo piano, develops a small idea only presented twice in the opening movement. The fourth uses yet a different set of gestures. Each of the four movements begins with the very same opening four-note cell, but presented in a different way: abstractly as just the harmonic content, as a tune, and as an accompanimental figure. The title comes from the fact that in each of the movements all of the gestures are to be grossly exaggerated in a sort of reference to romanticism, from which this genre derives. The work was completed in November of 2001.

Comercial recordings of Over the Top are available. Click here for more information

Scores for Over the Top are available from the composer.

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score Romantique.

Premiered at the Bowdoin Music Festival, Bowdoin, ME. 1999. Recording by the Pacifica Quartet, at the University of Chicago.

NOTES: Romantique: 6 Bagatelles for String Quartet, is modeled on the idea of a 19th-century character piece where the collection of "portraits" is based on sociological movements and important figures from 19th-century Europe. The movements include: I. Ontology, based on the idealization of the individual artist (and includes an extensive solo on the G string for the second violin); II. Exotic, based on the fascination of the eastern "other" (which usually meant as far east as Turkey, but in this case refers to South Asia); III. Variations without a Theme (a la Beethoven); IV. Wagner, which combines music from the transformation scene of Wagner's last opera Parsifal and the harmonic spectra of major and minor third tuned bells; V. America, a comment on nationalism (consisting entirely of quotation from various American musical genres and composers from John Philip Sousa marches to Rap to Charles Ives), and finally VI. Bagatelle, just a light piece based on a short tune.

Scores for Romantique: 6 Bagatelles for String Quartet are available from the composer.

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score (St)Ring Tones.

Premiered at the 2014 Society of Composers National Conference.

NOTES: The first idea I had for (St)Ring Tones was a huge gliss – all four strings beginning on the same note and glissing outwards to a span of five octaves. After many false starts, I realized that the piece would also use a tune that emerges from a cluster made up of the initial pitches of the tune. The tune and initial cluster is diatonic (C, D, F, and G) unlike most of my music, so I created an alternate cluster that includes a chromatic pitch (C#, D, F, G). The chromatic cluster is comprised of three intervals out of which most of the harmony in the piece is built: a minor second, a major second, and a minor third. The main idea of the piece is still a gliss, but it now begins with a short gliss inwards towards the initial pitch of the tune, and eventually works its way outwards towards the five-octave span. The idea of a hairpin shape, derived from the gliss, manifests in other ways… each pitch of the tune is played in an increasing or decreasing number of repetitions, timbres change continuously between sul ponticello and ordinario, and repeated pitches speed up or slow down.

Comercial recordings of (St)Ring Tones are available. Click here for more information

Scores for (St)Ring Tones are available from the composer.

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score Three 4 Five.

Commissioned by the Pifferari Quintet. Premiered by them in the Summer of 1993, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

NOTES: After studying in Fontainebleau, France, in the summer of 1990, I became interested in exploiting aspects of sound other than pitch as primary carriers of musical information. Three 4 Five consists of three pieces, each privileging different parameters.

The jagged lines of the first piece are relieved by the extreme fluid lines of the second. The second piece consists of two ideas: (1) an oboe monologue which initiates cascades of (mostly) sevenths in the other instruments and (2) a harmonic progression of dyads which must be played out by every pair of instruments. Although the relationships between the various members of the ensemble are unclear at first, the oboe eventually takes over, resulting in a sort of oboe concerto.

In the third piece, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics," written as a homage to Iannis Xenakis, I used statistical techniques to determine small scale rhythmic motion as well as larger section lengths. Two sets, which are derived from each other by one note change, supply pitch material. The piece consists of three sections. The first, which cycles through all transpositions of the two sets, is divided into several subsections that become progressively shorter and more active. The second section composes out each of the initial five notes by means of register changes, quarter tones, multiphonics, and rhythmic patterns from the first section. The second section too consists of five subsections that become exponentially shorter and more active. The increased rhythmic activity at the end of the second section culminates in the third section, which has long runs in the flute which are then taken up by the rest of the group. The opening statement returns, led by the horn, who, tired of playing quarter-tones, began rebelling at the end of the second section by playing fanfares.

Scores for Three 4 Five are available from the composer.

Link to Enlarge Score

Click score to enlarge.

Link opens popup over current window.
Click X to close.

× First page of the score Tower of Babel.

Premiered by the Contemporary Chamber Players at the University of Chicago, Spring, 1994.

NOTES: Tower of Babel is my attempt to write a coherent "post-modern" piece. Since the 70s, the idea of quotation or pastiche has come into vogue, especially the quotation of popular music or jazz. In my opinion, many of the works which employ these techniques are unsuccessful. At the same time, I have always loved the sensation of juxtaposing two very different types of music, or music in different tempos, and having to sort them out or make some sense of the combination or interaction. I decided to explore the idea of combining "gestures" and rhythm, rather than harmony, to define the different arenas. The "gestural arenas" are taken from jazz, rock and roll, 19th-century salon style (Chopin), 20th-century (Italian) modernism, and homophonic chorale-style. They are additionally constrained by register separation. The piece reaches a structural climax at the halfway point, with each half consisting of a sort of canon defined by gesture rather than theme. That is, I will juxtapose two gestures, then move the first gesture into the lower voice and add a new gesture in the top voice, and so on. However, this canonic organization is only roughly adhered to.

The title derives from the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, which describes the creation of the different languages (musics, in this case) in the world, and the subsequent inability of the different peoples (musicians) to understand each other.

Scores for Tower of Babel are available from the composer.