I’ve just received a Berklee Faculty Fellowship, which is awarded on a competitive basis to Boston- and Valencia-based faculty. My project is to compose an expanded arrangement of Victory at Arnot for sextet: flute, clarinet, piano, violin, cello, and percussion. There will be three performances in Boston: at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, at Berklee’s Colvin Hall, and at the Boston Arts Academy. The sextet is What is Noise, and our narrator is Tony-nominated Maureen Brennan, on faculty at the Boston Conservatory. I will be also be working with BAA composers on writing their own pieces for musicians and narrator.
This fall I’ll be joining the faculty at Berklee College of Music as an Assistant Professor of Composition. I’m grateful to my colleagues, mentors, and students in Philadelphia over the past eight years (keep in touch!), and it’s sad to leave, but I’m also looking forward to this next chapter in my college teaching career. Hello, Boston!
After several years of preparation, I am excited to finally premiere Victory at Arnot. The piece is for trio and narrator and depicts a little-known event from American history. In 1899, Mary “Mother” Jones led an army of women to victory over a mining corporation. The story celebrates the power non-violent resistance and creative problem solving, and it explores the history of labor rights and working immigrants. I based the text on research I did at the Historical Society of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania Library, among others. Text from Mother Jones’ actual speeches is used with kind permission and assistance of the University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library. Political scientist Kristen Wall helped with the script.
Our narrator is professional storyteller Megan Hicks, whose storytelling awards and honors include Parents’ Choice, Storytellers World, The Audies, NAPPA, Parents’ Guide to Children’s Media, and National Storyteller of the Year. Flutist Elivi Varga has performed with such ensembles as the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and the Louisiana Sinfonietta, and has served as principal flute of the Philadelphia Wind Symphony. Violinist Andreia Torain has performed with the Philadelphia Classical Symphony, Delaware Symphony, and the Newtown Chamber Orchestra. I will be at the piano. Andreia, Elivi, and I are all faculty members at Settlement, which is hosting this premiere.
2. Life in the mines
3. Mother Jones rallies the people
4. Daily parades
5. “Up the mountainside came the army of women…”
6. Victory Hoedown!
7. Epilogue: “The fight for justice never ends.”
My new setting of The Darkling Thrush is now available here through NoteNova Publishing.
This was my first commission from San Francisco Choral Artists, now available in SATB (the original is SSSAAATTTBBB). This new version is appropriate for choirs of all levels.
In Thomas Hardy’s poem The Darkling Thrush, a bleak winter landscape is suddenly illuminated by birdsong. The joyous music seems odd coming from such an ragged, bedraggled creature… What does it know that we don’t? My setting presents the text as is, then rewords it from the point of view of the bird. This latter half of the piece incorporates fragments of melody based on actual field recordings of the hermit thrush, the wood thrush, and the veery.
Update: This concert has been rescheduled for Jan 30. Please click the BNMI link for tickets and info.
In November, Something Gleamed Like Electrum will be performed by the Boston New Music Initiative. In this score, as in many of my pieces, I give the performers a fair amount of leeway (by contemporary music standards). I want them to express the programmatic content, play off of each other, and follow the conductor, rather than “execute” the score. So far, the piece has been performed by Second Instrumental Unit, Juventas New Music Ensemble, neoLIT, and the Discovery Players, and happily, the essence of the piece comes across in a similar way every time. Also in November, organist McEwan Walters will be premiering a new work I wrote based on the Gregorian chant Alma Redemptoris Mater. This is the first organ piece I’ve written where I had access to an actual organ during the composition process. The various pipe timbres led me to certain harmonies, and the feel of the manuals and pedals led me to certain sorts of polyphony. It also led me to the conclusion that playing the organ is a serious core workout.
I am happy to announce that I will be composing a new work for members of the Momenta String Quartet: Emilie-Anne Gendron (violin), Stephanie Griffin (viola), and Michael Haas (cello). The concert will be May 29 at 8pm at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and will feature amplified strings and electronics. Momenta has premiered over 80 works and collaborated with over 100 living composers. The quartet’s debut album, MOMENTA, will be released on Albany Records in 2015. More info and tickets here.
I had good feedback from the team who ran the recording sessions in Prague, and I can’t wait to hear the results.
The most recent press on this project is here. Some excerpts:
“How do you take a synthesizer and cello, completely different instruments, and get them to co-inhabit the same sonic space? Can analog and digital both effectively transcend one another until they’re flowing interchangeably?. . .
“From the genesis of the modern crowdfunding movement, BT has had the idea that direct fan support might be the way to finally bring this type of musical experience to life. And so he set, and has now met, a goal of $200,000 to cover all the costs—all of which are itemized on the project’s Kickstarter page. . . The project has managed six $10,000 backers, a record in the music category.
“It’s not just taking old electronic songs and re-doing them with an orchestra, however. The Electronic Opus was a catalyst to create new songs and sounds with a familiar baseline. ‘There will be parts of the original songs, plus orchestra, plus new instruments, sounds (and some vocals) all mixed together as new arrangements that will live and breathe on their own as new pieces,’ explains [producer Tommy] Tallarico.”
Links to older articles here.
My Scherzo for Piano Trio (from Piano Trio #2) will receive its Midwest premiere (and fifth U.S. performance) at the Great Plains Regional Conference of the College Music Society. The concert will take place at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, February 28-March 1, 2015, exact date TBA. South Dakota presents its fair share of new music- under the direction of conductor Delta David Gier, the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra has won the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming for seven seasons. You can hear Gier conduct the Curtis Symphony Orchestra on my piece If and When here.