Ellipsis Rules

(2014), vibra­phone solo, 4:40

Ellipses in emails are con­fus­ing (and obnox­ious). But well-chosen musi­cal ellipses—in har­monies, chord pro­gres­sions, rhythms, and melodies—can trans­fix. ELLIPSIS RULES is a study of these sorts of gaps and omis­sions.

Posted: August 7th, 2014

Old Motion Parade

(2013) orches­tra, 7:45

 

Com­mis­sioned and pre­miered by the New York Youth Sym­phony as part of their First Music pro­gram, Parade of Old Motion was per­formed at Queens Col­lege on May 4, 2014, and at Carnegie Hall on May 25, 2014, con­ducted by Joshua Gerson.

…a short, com­pelling orches­tral essay…” — Anthony Tom­masini, NY Times

Old Motion Parade abridges great earth-building processes—impossible to com­pre­hend in proper scale—into a brief, abstract pageant. Parade is a tour of musi­cal decay and recy­cling: great brass bea­cons smoothly fade into silence, a jig smears into sonic soup, a jaunty pro­gres­sion in the piano and harp rusts and frag­ments, and burly orches­tral chords weaken, broaden, and finally explode into the land­scapes we see before us.

 

 

Posted: June 20th, 2014

Love (after Rochefoucauld)

(2013) SSAATTB a capella

Love (after Rochefou­cauld)
The Yale Glee Club, Jef­frey Douma, con­duc­tor, Novem­ber 22, 2013

TEXT
from an epi­gram by Fran­cois de la Rochefou­cauld, trans­lated by Tom Clark

Love
like ghosts,
much talked about
sel­dom seen.

PROGRAM NOTE
I have kept most of Tom Clark’s trans­la­tion, but have used a cou­ple words from other trans­la­tions. As much as pos­si­ble, I tried to illus­trate the text through the archi­tec­ture of this brief setting.

Posted: March 26th, 2014

NYFOS, Guitar fest, Pulsing & Shaking, Carnegie Hall

Just returned from a Florida Christ­mas: sail­ing, hot­tub­bing, carol-playing, chill­ing with the fam­ily par­rot, do won­ders for a man’s soul. On to 2014.

There are as yet 4 ways to hear my music live this win­ter and spring: First, Try the Spir­its will be per­formed by the spec­tac­u­lar duo Colin Davin and Daniel James on Jan­u­ary 20, 2PM, at Merkin Hall, as part of the New York Gui­tar Fes­ti­val. Sec­ond, a cou­ple bari­tone songs about time, (“I Can Wait” and “Self-same Road”) will be pre­miered on a New York Fes­ti­val of Song con­cert curated by the fab­u­lous Mark Adamo (Tues­day Jan­u­ary 28 at 8PM). Third, in Feb­ru­ary, a group of enter­pris­ing NYU stu­dents whom I adore will present Mise-En-Place (first time in con­cert with­out dance!) as part of their two-day fes­ti­val, Puls­ing & Shak­ing, which explores the per­sis­tent influ­ence of min­i­mal­ism on con­tem­po­rary com­posers. Fourth, my orches­tra piece All Decays will be per­formed for the first time by Joshua Ger­son and the New York Youth Sym­phony, on Sun­day, May 25 at 2PM at Carnegie Hall. More infor­ma­tion and tick­ets are avail­able here. Cheers!

Posted: December 30th, 2013

NAILED IT

Whoa, I finally heard George Benjamin’s Writ­ten on Skin via this Tan­gle­wood archived stream. I can’t recall hav­ing been so imme­di­ately con­vinced by an oper­atic piece right from the out­set, or so gripped by just lis­ten­ing, eyes closed, straight through. His atti­tude toward new opera explains why this might be so:

In the 21st cen­tury, opera appears to be rather arti­fi­cial unlike the movies for instance. I think it’s nec­es­sary to estab­lish and acknowl­edge that arti­fi­cial­ity. And once that’s done in a very sim­ple way then the audi­ence, I think, can react in a much more spon­ta­neous and emo­tional way towards what’s being told.”

—George Ben­jamin, Tan­gle­wood pro­gram notes

Written-on-Skin-opera

Posted: November 8th, 2013

GO

The feel­ing, when one puts the right chord in the right place, is not unlike pass­ing Go and col­lect­ing $200, or, bet­ter, land­ing on it. An osti­nato pro­gres­sion with the wrong chords feels like land­ing on go to jail, every time.

jail

Posted: October 31st, 2013

The Vignelli Canon

My mis­sion state­ment can be found at the head of the Vignelli Canon:

I have always said that there are three aspects in
Design that are impor­tant to me:
Seman­tic, Syn­tac­tic and Prag­matic.
Let’s exam­ine them one at the time.
Seman­tics, for me, is the search of the mean­ing of
what­ever we have to design…

Mies, my great men­tor said: “God is in the details.”
That is the essence of syn­tax: the dis­ci­pline
that con­trols the proper use of gram­mar in the
con­struc­tion of phrases and the artic­u­la­tion of a
lan­guage, Design…

What­ever we do, if not under­stood, fails to
com­mu­ni­cate and is wasted effort.
We design things which we think are seman­ti­cally
cor­rect and syn­tac­ti­cally con­sis­tent but if, at the
point of fruition, no one under­stands the result, or
the mean­ing of all that effort, the entire work is
use­less. Some­times it may need some expla­na­tion
but it is bet­ter when not nec­es­sary. Any arti­fact
should stand by itself in all its clarity.

Posted: October 26th, 2013

JFund for Cadillac Moon Ensemble

I received a 2013 Jfund grant for a new 25-minute work for Cadil­lac Moon Ensem­ble (2014–15 sea­son). Mod­ern Design—work­ing title—will be mod­eled on Dieter Ram’s 10 Prin­ci­ples of Good Design. Think­ing a lot these days about the dynamic inter­sec­tion of ratio­nal design prin­ci­ples and ardent impetus.

Posted: October 23rd, 2013