Spiral Dream - Premiere Announcement

I am excited to announce the premiere of Spiral Dream!

Under the direction of Nathan Stark, the @MontanaStateUniversity Wind Symphony will introduce audiences to the strange world of Spiral Dream on Sunday April 3rd!

Information can be found at Montana State University's website here!

This is the second piece of mine to premiere at MSU, the most recent being "Over the Edge" which premiered in April of 2014. I am grateful beyond words that this piece has begun its journey on the stage in Bozeman.

Listen to a mockup:

Unraveling Night - Premiere Announcement

The last couple of months has found me working intensely on a piece for 4 oboes, 3 English horns and percussion, or as I affectionately referred to it, music for 7 oboes and gongs.

The piece first came about when my college cohort, Amanda Pochatko (pictured left), asked me if I would be interested in being part of an alumni recital performance at Boise State University. My involvement would be playing English horn, reprising a duet "Shepherds of Provence," and composing a new piece for an ensemble of our colleagues.

I set to work, with the premiere date set for April 5, 2016 at Boise State University's Recital Hall space in the Morrison Center for Performing Arts.

One of the first things I did was make a lot of reeds!

It was a lot of fun to explore the landscape of Unraveling Night, the title of which eluded me for days. Normally I start with a conceptual title that is very close to what is settled upon when it is finally ready to print. This time, I had a text document full of various words that described the piece, but it took days to label the right feeling.

I like what unraveling connotes: a physical or emotional act of breaking down, or eroding, but also solving a problem, and gaining an understanding. It is two things at once. And night is, well, night. The night we all know, fear, and embrace. Two things at once.

I really liked the idea of 7 players that also played percussion and that each had a part, which stemmed from my original idea to create a piece that had theatrical aspects to it, hence the original title "Ceremony," but it evolved into more than that. And while each instrument is in a way telling the story of what is happening, particularly in the first two movements, the lines of that idea blur in the third movement to tell a larger story.

Now I realize that it is strange that the piece unravels from a quasi atonal realm back to a strongly tonal ending, but I think that is the beauty of life. Sometimes the pendulum swings back the other way.

As the score came together, a poem developed, and I gave it the same title:


Bones wash up on a desert shore
fragments of suits, shells and glass,
and teeth squishing between our toes.
Peeling the mirage of your shirt
we waded into the ripples
of leaves and bark that dripped
from your elbows
up to lush watery atmospheres.
Bathed in the earth's salt,
awash in worms and tigers,
fingernails and carburators
churning in the dusty tide,
we were particles swept across a sea bed,
now a grave.
Half formed memories brining in my mouth,
bitter and powdery,
cinnamon and ajax.
Did we melt and scatter, becoming
tree roots that drank every boulder
to dust, or a flower
that defiantly grew
perched high on an ocean swell,
rising for eons until trembling plates
sent rocks splashing,
petals lost in an eddy of gravel and steel beams
swirling around the town?
We spit sand at each other, laughing.
The place we collected whales and horses
watching them dart through our fingers,
disappeared, as though it never were,
and we wondered what was real,
and what we invented.
We emerge onto the moon-dark beach
the night unraveling beneath us
basked amid oil stains in your driveway
and dried by beams of sunless oceans.

You can listen to excerpts of the piece here. This is me overdubbed for the purposes of a mockup:

Over The Edge

Over The Edge is an exciting and loud piece for concert band. A Phrygian mode with a major 3rd gives the piece a Spanish or Latin quality, and the hemiola rhythm suggests a dance, building intensity to the very end. It features a trumpet soloist that first plays lyrically, escalating in power to a blistering pitch over the accompanying ensemble pounding out the rhythm. When the idea for this piece was first conceived, it was planned for a marching band, but as it developed, it required more flexibility and color.

I started composing this piece many years ago, and in my spare time, kept adding to it and tweaking it, occasionally going long stretches without even opening the file. Its development was very gradual, and one day it was done and ready to start finding an audience.

I was very happy that it premiered with Montana State University's Wind Symphony under the direction of Nathan Stark. Listen to the premiere performance here:

The Score and Parts are available from the store.

If you are interested in my original mockup, you can listen to that below. I used Vienna Symphonic Library, Cinebrass and Cinewinds, and Project SAM True Strike Percussion sample libraries to realize all the sounds. It was edited and mixed in Digital Performer, which is my DAW of choice.