Boil, Grind, Brew (2020)
Tenor voice, Trumpet, Bass Clarinet, Trombone, Fixed Media
This work is about my love for all things coffee. The text is made up of the legend of Kaldi, who discovered coffee in Ethiopia, and loose adaption of the instruction manual for brewing coffee with a Chemex coffee maker. The fixed media consists of raw and altered samples of my electric kettle, burr grinder, and Chemex brewer, as well as recordings taken at Java Brothers coffee roasting facility in Kansas City. This work was written for the loadbang ensemble as part of a collaboration with them, the Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance (KcEMA), and the UMKC Composition department. Though originally scheduled to be premiered in May 2020, this work was premiered online and recorded at the Octavian studios in NYC by loadbang in December 2020.
Video and audio recordings of this performance will be available soon.
Suite for Four Items from a Thrift Shop (2018)
For four improvisers, and live and fixed electronics
Written for the Mnemosyne Quartet, this work explores the use of four found objects and how their sonic qualities can be used as is in performance, and can be altered using live effect processing. The objects include a metal bowl, a toy elephant, a plastic cup, and a toy phone. All, as the name suggests, were found in various thrift stores in the Kansas City-area.
For information on the score and parts, please use the contact form
Breaking Point (2017)
Saxophone Quartet (SATB)
Breaking Point is a fictional depiction of a loss of control. Once the piece establishes itself musically the quartet is presented with challenges to time, organization, and direction. As the quartet recovers from each challenge the fringes of its control fray bit-by-bit, represented by extended techniques and indeterminacy. Eventually the quartet devolves into chaos, past a point of no return. This work also exemplifies my love for the music of Charles Mingus and Led Zeppelin, and embraces the aggressive, improvisatory, and politically-charged nature they’re known for.
Breaking Point was commissioned and written in 2017 by a consortium of five ensembles including the Resurgam, Fuego, Kenari, Barkada, and Coalescent saxophone quartets.
Published by Murphy Music Press
Life and Death on a Spinning Disk (2015)
Trombone and Fixed Media
A record player is called to life to tell its pre-recorded story of a computer’s rebellion against its creator, and how it destroys the world.
Life and Death on a Spinning Disk is inspired by the stories of a technological singularity apocalypse, particularly the Dark Tower series by Steven King and the images of his city of Lud. In the summer of 2015 I began reading this series and became infatuated with the world of Roland the Gunslinger and it’s eerie desolation. The city of Lud comes at the end of the third book, The Waste Lands, and is depicted as a sort of post-apocalyptic New York City. Underneath the city a network of computers housed a computer being that over the course of hundreds if not thousands of years went mad (Blaine, what a pain), and over the loudspeakers a record plays at regular intervals with deadly consequences. Thus my idea for this piece warped these elements of Lud into a different, albeit related, narrative. King’s style of writing influenced this work as well. Throughout the piece sounds are presented in the fixed media without context or meaning, yet by the end their meaning becomes clearer. King uses this often throughout individual books as well as the entire series. Life and Death on a Spinning Disk was commissioned by Matthew Russo in 2015, and finished in the summer of 2016.
Soundtrack of an Open Road (2014/15)
Cello and Fixed Media
Soundtrack of an Open Road describes the pursuit for sanctuary, in the form of a calm and open road. From 2011-2013 I found myself driving more and more, and it was during these drives, especially those going cross-country, I was able to find a kind of mental clarity. Since then the sounds of a car and the road have been ingrained in me. The piece starts aggressively, depicting elements of road rage and anxiety. Gradually the journey becomes calmer, and the sounds of cars eventually fade away, leaving the cellist in a moment of solitude and sanctuary in the form of a cadenza. This moment or clarity is brief, as the roads of before return, as does the chaos of earlier. The fixed media is comprised of recorded sounds from cars, inside and out, as well as the materials they are built from (i.e. glass, metal). Soundtrack of an Open Road was written in 2014 and early 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri for Tiffany Bell.
Premiere: March 2015; Tiffany Bell - Cello, Kansas City, MO
Winter's Summer (2014)
Alto Saxophone and Fixed Media
Written for Duke Sullivan in April 2014, Winter’s Summer is inspired by his poem Re-Blooming, specifically the last phrase:
in the depth of winter
I had an invincible summer to feed the buds,
a chance to bloom again.
This piece emulates various aspects of the poem, but specifically the last phrase. It shifts between a winter soundscape, still and quiet; and summer one, bright and active. The Alto Saxophone and fixed media are often intertwined with each other, as the fixed media was written almost entirely with filtered sounds and techniques on saxophone. Winter’s Summer begins with a winter soundscape of melancholic phrases in the Alto while being accompanied by a cold, empty wind in the fixed media. Several interruptions in the fixed media foreshadow the arrival of summer, which contrasts winter with fast, rhythmic, and jazz-like gestures. Summer gradually fades away and returns following the climax of the piece. However, at winter’s return the Alto is no longer melancholic. Having had the opportunity to “bloom” in the brief summer of this piece, the Alto waits once more for winter to fade away, and is given one final reminder of it in the fixed media before the winds of winter finally let go.
Premiere: April 2014, Kansas City, MO
Published through Murphy Music Press
Saxophone Ensemble (sopranino, 2satb, bass)
In 2013 I discovered that my mother has the neurological condition Synesthesia, which is when one sensory reaction triggers another. In my mother’s case she sees colors when she hears music. I’ve encountered this specific neurological combination in several people and have been curious of its affects on the listener. After researching what affects the colors seen, I discovered that each person’s synesthesia was unique, and that often no two listeners with this condition saw the same image. So in this piece I strived to initiate as many colors as possible through changing orchestration, harmony, melody, moods, and utilizing the enormous range of the saxophone ensemble. Colors was written for Zach Shemon and the University of Missouri – Kansas City Saxophone Ensemble in the fall of 2013.
Premiere: March 2014; UMKC Saxophone Ensemble, Kansas City, MO.
Published through Murphy Music Press:
Saxophone Quartet (SATB)
Based on the computer networking tool "ping," which tests the connection to and from a computer source, this piece mimics that back-and-forth communication. Like dozens of link lights flashing on the back of PC's, members of the quartet trade entrances and material, creating a flowing sound with their short and sometimes erratic entrances. The piece changes pace quickly throughout, emulating a distracted attention, while also finding moments of escape that seem to stretch time indefinitely. However this lapse is an illusion as almost every moment in Ping is measured, keeping the ensemble in a meticulously computerized and connected world. Ping was commissioned by Bill Perconti and the Lewis and Clark State College Saxophone Quartet in Lewiston, Idaho in the Fall of 2012.
Premiere: April 2013, LCSC Saxophone Quartet, Pullman, Washington
Published through Murphy Music Press:
Push and Pull (2012)
This piece explores the different notions of "pushing and "pulling." There are sections of free, cadenza-like ideas contrasted by other strict rhythmic sections. Dynamics and intensity also emulate the push and pull motion moving to and from contrasting points. Written for Graham Dart. (5:00)
Premiered: April 17, 2012; Graham Dart on Clarinet, Pullman, WA
All Thumbs (2011)
Bassoon or Baritone Sax
All Thumbs was commissioned by Seth Dunlap in the spring of 2011 during my time in Washington State. At the time I was experimenting with a new method I had developed to translate words and letters into musical letter-names. The first four notes of this piece, concert F, E, G, and B-flat, spell out Seth. This gesture is then used to develop the material for the entire piece. The performer is given considerable stylistic and musical freedom, allowing for a variety of interpretations.
Premiere: February 2, 2012; Seth Dunlap on Bassoon; Pullman, WA
Baritone Sax Premiere: September 2013, Ted King-Smith on Baritone Sax,
Kansas City, MO
1, Two, 3 (2010)
1, Two, 3 was commissioned by Rachel Gordon for solo Flute in the fall of 2010. At the time I was fascinated by the counterpoint of the 17th century and how composers like J.S. Bach could do so much with seemingly so little. In this piece I blended the Baroque type of counterpoint with jazz influences. There are sections of 1, 2, and 3 voices that pop out of the flute texture and evolve as the piece progresses. As with several of my unaccompanied pieces, the performer is given some stylistic freedom. Most of the piece is in a jazz-ish style, but is interrupted by Baroque patterns that quickly spiral out into another idea.
Premiere: March 2011; Rachel Gordon, Flute; Pullman, WA