The Heroine premier

On Saturday, November 14, 2015, the Composers Collective held our first orchestral performance. Led by maestro David Štech, the Composers Collective Orchestra played through sixteen world premieres by members from the group at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, NY.

From the program notes:

The Heroine: Chapter 12 – After being away for many days, our heroine returns home to a warm welcome. Chapter 17 – It seems inevitable that the encroaching evil will… Chapter 23 – A new sword, a new companion, life is good on the road! Chapter 24 – It is all around: war, evil war! Chapter 29 – …if nothing else, her burned flesh will heal and leave marks by way of hardened skin, ready to tackle the next challenge without fear.

I attempted to create a cinematic scape with hard, dynamic sections butted against melodic movement. The solos were performed by concert master Eugene Muneyoshi Takahashi and principal violist Brian Thompson.

Brahms Piano to Small Orchestra

Before the end of 2014, I was tasked with orchestrating a piano piece. I chose to arrange Brahms Piano Sonata 1 and was able to get a reading done of it. I recorded it with the Rode iXY on my iPhone. Quality was superb on the tiny $200 device – all the way up to 24-bit/96kHz.

Arranging the piano score to string instruments was very simple coming from the Brahms piece, mostly because the entire structure was there waiting to be uncovered. Any mistakes you hear in the recording is due to the fact that the players only had 2 times to play it and this is the second – stellar musicians. The ensemble consisted of five violin I’s, four Violin II’s, three Violas, 2 Celli, one Contrabass, and one harp.

Holding Your Breath

I wrote this piece, Hold Your Breath, at the end of 2013 and “rediscovered” it in the recordings on my computer. I’m very proud of it as I was venturing out into strange meters and opposing two-handed rhythms while experimenting with the range of the piano.

But beyond any compositional features, I think what really gave this recording life was the amazingly expressive playing of Blair McMillen.  I was so impressed with his rendition upon the first read I really had no comment or correction. He basically nailed it. On top of that, he’s such a nice guy.

Here’s his second take, recorded on a Steinway at Juilliard:

New Composition Performed

Last night I had a new piece, Always, Ghosts, played by the Composers’ Collective ensemble at the National Opera Center in NYC. Written for piano, cello, clarinet and horn, its a relatively short piece. The musicians were amazing and I look forward to getting the audio and video we had captured posted here. Here are my notes on the composition:

Always, Ghosts was composed as an intention to be a short film. In four parts, entrance, searching, realization, and exit, the music follows the plot of a ghost experiencing these moments and thoughts. The piano is the foundation of the scenery while the cello, clarinet, and horn together act as its observations. In the story, the ghost comes into reality floating, pre-dawn, over the Hudson, returns home to find its child asleep in bed, finds its own body in the woods, concludes its wife was the murderer, and then leaves this plane resigning itself to confusion, sadness, and helplessness. Set in a summer scene on the Hudson River, the composer found inspiration from very early train trips. He would listen to solo string music between New York City and his childhood home in Albany, seeing the sleepy old towns in the grey morning light.