(2013) orchestra, 7:45
Commissioned and premiered by the New York Youth Symphony as part of their First Music program, All Decays was performed at Queens College on May 4, 2014, and at Carnegie Hall on May 25, 2014, conducted by Joshua Gerson.
Decay is not always grim; actually, I find that decay produces the most beautiful things in the world (mountains, wine, palimpsests of old paint…). The many processes of decay—fading, atrophying, dissolving, rusting, combusting, etc.— can inspire awe, reveal depth, and provide release. They also provide rich soil for musical expression. All Decays conjures a soundworld full of musical decay: there are great brass beacons that smoothly fade into silence, a jig that smears into sonic soup, a jaunty little progression in the piano and harp that becomes rusted and fragmented, and burly chords played by the whole orchestra that first grow weaker, then messier, then, finally, explosive.
Posted: June 20th, 2014
Love (after Rochefoucauld)
The Yale Glee Club, Jeffrey Douma, conductor, November 22, 2013
from an epigram by Francois de la Rochefoucauld, translated by Tom Clark
much talked about
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
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
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
Posted: November 8th, 2013
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.
Posted: October 31st, 2013
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
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
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
I’m living in Montauk (and New York) this fall, assisting Rufus Wainwright on several upcoming projects. Beautiful little guest house and studio out here, and bluffs like these:
Posted: September 26th, 2013