List of compositions
Njála Act I: The Trial (2015)
for TB soloists,oboe, english horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, percussion, piano, viola, and cello.
Based on the 13th century Icelandic saga Brennu-Njáls Saga, Njála calls into question themes of masculinity and gender roles. The original saga in Icelandic details a blood feud between highly respected lawyer Njáll Þorgeirsson, skilled warrior Gunnar Hámundarson, and their respective families. The feud, instigated by Gunnar’s wife Hallgerður Höskuldsdóttir, results in the slaying of many servants from each family. The feud is further complicated by a deep relationship between Njáll and Gunnar, which some scholars have theorized was homosexual.
Gunnar sought Njáll’s advice on how to best negotiate the blood shed between the two families. Blood repayment to defend a man’s honor was widely accepted in Iceland during this time period; however, because of the deep bond Gunnar and Njáll held, settlements were made with large sums of silver instead. Njáll’s wife, Bergþóra Skarphéðinsdóttir, and Gunnar’s wife scorned these monetary compensations in lieu of blood repayment, and continued to seek revenge through hired slayings of the opposite family’s servants. The saga concludes with the slaying of Gunnar and the burning of Njáll and his family inside their estate.
In Act I, we witness Gunnar inform Njáll of the third slaying (instigated by Hallgerður) between their families. Both Gunnar and Njáll acknowledge the importance of justice for such an act, and remind each other that they should defend their respective family’s honor. While the accepted repayment would be blood, the two men decide to instead honor their friendship, and depart from the meeting peacefully.
In the following acts, Gunnar and Njáll explain the peaceful settlement to their wives who continue to criticize the lack of bloodshed. The blood feud is brought to its height in the final act when Bergþóra and Hallgerður force a meeting between their husbands, all while incessantly scorning each man for their apparent lack of honor and masculinity. Tensions rise as the two men are forced to confront each other. Njáll advises Gunnar to leave Iceland, but Gunnar refuses. Njáll is overcome with conflicting emotions, and in the heat of the moment stabs Gunnar. Gunnar falls into Njáll’s arms, who sings to him in Icelandic as the opera closes.
5000 Miles From Home (2013)
for chamber orchestra.
Commissioned by Chiao-yu Tuan and Lawrence University Film Studies, the 5000 Miles From Home soundtrack captures the emotional narrative associated with leaving home to pursue higher education in a foreign country. The film of the same name documents three students’ experiences with studying abroad at Lawrence University.
A Foreign Country
Far from home
Glorious Cheese Tasting
Wisconsin is Cold
Orchestral and Large Ensemble
Reflective Distortion (2016)
for symphony orchestra.
In writing this composition, I imagined a musical form that could capture the notion of looking in a mirror and seeing a distorted reflection. Parts of this music are literal mirror reflections; they are mirrored at the halfway point and played in reverse. Other musical elements are more freely composed, creating the sense of distortion in this reflection.
For me, this echoes what I have been struggling with in my own life concerning my impact on my surrounding environments, both natural and social. In one sense, I feel I am being socially and environmentally conscious. But when I look in the mirror and face the reality of our climate and my own actions, I realize my reflection is distorted, and I can do much more to cultivate a more habitable and sustainable future for our world.
I hope that this composition will serve as a meditation to those who listen. It has reminded me to recognize my own distorted reflection more often, and has inspired me to work harder for a more peaceful world.
A composed cantus firmus, set in Clarinet I, serves as the foundation on which all other parts are crafted. Flutes I, II, and III, Clarinets II and III, and at times, Oboes I and II all follow Clarinet I in a canon at the unison. This canonic material weaves the textural fabric by slowly unveiling all twelve chromatic pitches through a rising fifth/fourth figure. Once all twelve chromatic pitches have been heard, the composition begins a mirror of the canonic material beginning at rehearsal G. The closing half of the composition features the mirrored canonic material in a falling figure, eventually closing the composition as it began, albeit in a mirrored fashion. The textural fabric is truly symmetrical, but is heard as having distinct characters due to the mirrored nature.
The other instrumental lines are more freely composed, taking elements from the rising fifth/fourth motive in the canonic material and developing those elements in melodic fragments. The bass line slowly unveils a whole-tone scale, beginning and closing on the pitch C natural. Each new pitch revealed in the bass line serves as a formal marker. These landmarks coincide with changing meters, which are also mirrored at rehearsal G. This serves to further carve out the symmetrical nature of the formal architecture.
Though the whole of the formal architecture is inherently symmetrical because of the mirror, the perception of this symmetry is distorted through freer composition outside the canonic textural fabric. It is this distortion that invites reflection upon the nature of symmetrical structures. The variance within these mirrored figures produces interest, and even though the form as a whole may be seen as symmetrical, it is certainly not experienced as such.
Light, More Light! (2015)
for winds ands SATB.
for symphony orchestra.
Commissioned by Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, recipient of the 2014 Lawrence Symphony Orchestra Student Composers Orchestral Performance Award, and named semi-finalist in the 2015 American Prize, Schism explores the emotional narrative of separation.
This notion of separation is presented musically through the introduction of a simple melodic idea. The idea is transformed as it is passed from instrument to instrument in the orchestra. Sometimes the melody is bold and confident, and other times it is softer and more introspective. These two different characters represent the change in actions, thoughts, and emotions a person may experience in their everyday life as they experience personal schisms. A great conflict is heard as these characters fight to present the melodic idea in their own way. The tension of this conflict builds until the very closing moments of the composition, where the orchestra at last comes together to present the melodic idea in a unified way.
5000 Miles From Home Orchestral Suite (2013)
for chamber orchestra
This suite features four tracks from the 5000 Miles From Home OST: This Is Lawrence, A Foreign Country, Culture Shock, and A Glorious Cheese Tasting.
for string orchestra and percussion
Rise, a named semi-finalist in the 2014 American Prize, has enjoyed performances at three summer music festivals and five universities throughout the United States. The underlying emotional rhetoric of conflict is driven through the development of dissonance within the aeolian mode. Textural activation of these dissonances through cross-rhythm relationships propel the composition to its climax, which slowly fades into a stark open fifth punctuated by three heart-wrenching strikes of a chime. Written when I was experiencing a repetitive strain injury from my viola studies, Rise serves as a personal reminder that pain spawns creation and beauty.
Many Waters (2014)
for SSAA soloists and SSSSAAAA
Commissioned by Phillip Swan and Cantala, Many Waters is a meditation on the omnipotence of love. Excerpts from the Song of Solomon remind us of love’s insatiable and inextinguishable nature. Slip-sliding harmonies and fluid meter changes shape the texture’s ebb and flow. Divisi women’s chorus juxtaposed with solo women’s quartet capture love’s existence as both interior and extrinsic. Harmonic dissonance builds until the final iteration of the chorus, where the full divisi blossoms into the only two triads of the composition.
for SSAA, violin, viola, and piano
My own text explores winter and summer’s emotional nature. The first movement, Under Winter Sky, sets the listener in a frozen landscape, barren and devoid of sunlight. Slowly, the sun begins to shine and melt away winter’s cold and dissonant harmonies. Summer skies shine bright with warm and lush harmonies in the second movement, In Summer Breeze.
Crescent Shadow (2017)
for clarinet, violin, and piano
In 2017 I experienced my first total solar eclipse. During those few otherworldly hours, I thought about just how much light shapes our everyday lives. As the daylight dimmed and the world around me softened, crescent shadows appeared below. Everyone around me, most complete strangers, became entranced by these shadows; fingers pointed, phones snapped pictures, and smiles lit up. In that truly magical moment, we were all brought together by light. Those with eclipse glasses offered to share with anyone and everyone so they too could experience the awesome power of the heavens. The kindness and genuine humanness I witnessed that afternoon has stuck with me, and I wish more days held that same basic goodness between people.
We as humans are also a source of light. I’ve noticed we too often stand in each other’s way, eclipsing the light of those around us. We stand in crescent shadows of our own making each day, but we seldom notice the absence of radiance around us. The solar eclipse served as a reminder to me of not only how important light is to our everyday lives, but how important other people’s light is to the world in which we live.
Fill the Swamp (2017)
for amplified tenor saxophone, electric guitar, drum set, and amplified piano
Fill The Swamp is a musical parody of the 2016 US election. Inspired by Alec Baldwin’s and Kate McKinnon’s respective portrayals of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live, Fill The Swamp aims to create two musical languages that debate one another, each competing for time and credence within the musical form in a somewhat grotesque and macabre fashion. The primary rhythmic impetus for this piece was inspired by Donald Trump’s (in)famous slogan Make America Great Again, and undergoes a frantic transformation throughout the piece until the very end, where the rhythm drives out of control.
for two pianos
Divergence explores quartal and quintal harmonies complicated by half-step and tritone relations between two pianos. Cross-rhythms dominate the ebb and flow of texture. A dichotomy of bittersweet and aggressive emotion drive the formal aspects, echoing my own experience of studying abroad in Amsterdam during my senior year of undergraduate studies.
Dark Waves (2014)
for cello ensamble.
for 4 violins, viola, cello, and double bass.
for violin ensamble
Commissioned by Samantha George and Lawrence University Violin Studio, Intertwine explores stepwise dissonance set in a cross-rhythm texture. An energetic melody soars over the burbling cross-rhythm undercurrent, shaped by dissonant harmonies within the ionian/aeolian mode.
for flute, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, cello, and double bass
The Legend of King Beete (2014)
for flute, bassoon, and harp
for solo viola
Jagged Jest (2013)
for brass quintet
Take Ten (2013)
for viola ensemble
Commissioned by Matthew Michelic and Lawrence University Viola Studio, Take Ten celebrates everything I love about playing the viola. Soaring melodies over tight rhythmic patterns showcase the viola’s flexibility as an instrument that can both sing and groove.
for flute, clarinet, guitar, piano, and double bass
Commissioned by Michael Mizrahi and NOW Ensemble, Prism showcases quartal and quintal harmonies set in fighting cross-rhythms. Rising arpeggio-like figures capture the brilliance of this unique orchestration, and the slow unveiling of all twelve chromatic pitches utilizes this orchestration for harmonic saturation.
Each instrument projects their own quartal/quintal harmony through their own rhythmic subdivision. Together, the ensemble forges a saturated texture both rhythmically and harmonically. The saturated ensemble texture is much like white light, and each individual instrument like an individual light frequency.
for flute and piano
Written in the fall of my freshman year at Lawrence University, EvoLUtions is an aural realization of the emotions associated with leaving my hometown to pursue higher education in music. A simple whole-step motive begins questioningly in the piano. Trepidation morphs into excitement, then nostalgia through the development of the flute melody.