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Op. ? - untitled work for solo seven-string electric guitar

 

Aftermath, Op. 2

Date Composed: March 2018 | Duration: 2 min. and 20 sec.

Instrumentation: Euphonium and Piano

Program Notes:

      Aftermath had its beginnings as an exercise in musical quotation (the quotation being the main melody from Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1) as well as a first attempt at writing for the euphonium. However, the piece quickly took on a life beyond its origin. It gradually builds in intensity, with the quoted melody appearing more frequently, until it reaches a climax and reprises the material from the opening. Musically, the piece evokes sorrowful and melancholic images of places ravaged by tragedies such as war and famine.

Premiere: September 18th, 2018

Jason Donnelly, euphonium

 Kevin Knowles, piano

Clarke Recital Hall, University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

 

Nocturne No. 1, “Excursion,” Op. 3

Date Composed: April 2018 - May 2018 | Duration: 6 min.

Instrumentation: Solo Piano

Program Notes:

      I've found late night jaunts, whether by foot, car, or plane, to be prime opportunities for listening to quiet music and doing some introspective thinking. Unfortunately, partaking in such an endeavor makes the thinker susceptible to melancholy. Inspired by the conflicting emotions that arose during these after hour excursions, I composed my first nocturne in an attempt to make peace with my evening thoughts while simultaneously celebrating the context in which they took place.

Premiere: October 12th, 2018

Lanjiabao Ge, piano

Clarke Recital Hall, University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

 

String Quartet No. 1, “Cobalt,” Op. 6

Date Composed: January 2019 - March 2019 | Duration: 4 min. and 15 sec.

Instrumentation: String Quartet

Program Notes:

      A love letter to heavy metal music, this piece attempts to combine the genre’s rhythms, timbres, and gestures with neo-impressionist harmonies and an improvisatory flair. The result is a work featuring electric guitar-esque riffs and runs, extreme dynamic changes, and a healthy mix of both lyrical and screeching melodies. Extended techniques are utilized to mimic whammy bar dive bombs, death growls/shrieks, and amplifier feedback. Structurally, the work is organized in a pseudo-ternary form, with an extended coda at the end. However, each section was inspired by traditional metal songwriting ideas (intro, riff, verse, chorus, bridge, etc). The coda is a not-so-subtle attempt at a breakdown similar to something one might find in a metalcore song!

Premiere: June 22nd, 2019

Beo String Quartet

Plaza Midwood Tattoo

Charlotte, NC

 

Two Pieces for Viola, Op. 10: No. 1, “Triptych Visions”

Date Composed: March 2019* | Duration: 4 min. and 45 sec.

Instrumentation: Solo Viola

*movement I written in November 2018

Movements:

I - Andante con moto

II - Molto larghissimo con affetto

III - Vivace furioso

Program Notes:

      In the spirit of John Coltrane (among others), this work explores relationships in thirds. Each movement uses this concept to create a unique sound world, with the connection that all are moving, harmonically, by major and minor thirds in varying combinations. Beyond this, the piece keeps to relatively strict triple meters that vary wildly in tempo between movements. The movements are sectional, quasi-improvisational, and use extended techniques to explore the rich timbres the viola has to offer. The first movement is jumpy and paranoid, the second extremely slow and expressive, and the third is a pseudo moto perpetuo that is highly virtuosic and aggressive. The composer made the observation that, when staring at one panel of a triptych mirror for long enough, the brain would twist and distort the images in the other mirrors into fantastic shapes. The dichotomy in tone between the three movements (combined with their interconnected musical atmosphere) reflects this observation.

Premiere: May 2nd, 2019

Wynne Owre, viola

St. Bede Chapel, University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

 

Two Pieces for Viola, Op. 10: No. 2, “Rhapsody on 3 and 4th”

Date Composed: November 2019 | Duration: 6 min. and 30 sec.

Instrumentation: Solo Viola

Program Notes:

      Rhapsody on 3 and 4th is a technical showpiece that explores timbral shifts and contrapuntal playing on the viola. It is organized into five contrasting sections around three pitch centers (C, F, and Bb) and two main motivic/melodic ideas that are the basis for the first two sections, respectively. The title originates from these three pitch centers and the interval of a 4th, from which most of the fast, progressive rock-inspired riffs are constructed.

Premiere: March 5th, 2020

Dimitrios Floor, viola

St. Bede Chapel, University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

 

The Albatross and the Seal, Op. 11

Date Composed: July 2019 - January 2020 | Duration: 14 min.

Instrumentation: Jazz Sextet and Chamber Orchestra

Movements:

I - Passacaglia (The Albatross)

II - Fantasia (The Seal)

Program Notes:

      The Albatross and the Seal, written in 2020 for the Frost Stamps Scholarship ensembles’ yearly concert together, is an encapsulation of the best and worst aspects of undergraduate music school life. On one hand, there is the frenetic busyness, monotony, and stress that dominates a student’s daily life; this is illustrated by the loud and boisterous Passacaglia. On the other, there is the fear, uncertainty, and joy that comes with the goal of turning your passion into a profession; the Fantasia attempts to bring these complex feelings to life. Both movements have their own defining motives (the odd meter figure played by the brass at the beginning of the Passacaglia and the swelling gesture played by the woodwinds at the beginning of the Fantasia) that intrinsically tie these two states of being together via their presence throughout the complete work.

     

      “Albatross” is often used as a synonym for stress and corresponds with the first movement. Meanwhile, in many seafaring cultures from modernity and history, seals symbolize dreams, creativity, and a willingness to let life take you where it will; this is represented by the second movement. Both animals are commonly found in the world’s southern oceans and depend on many of the same environmental conditions to survive, even though one is a bird and the other is a sea mammal. As such, they are the perfect figurative analog to the emotions embedded within the work’s core.

Premiere: February 27th, 2020

Shawn Crouch, conductor

Shelly Berg, piano

Frost Stamps Brass Quintet 2020

Frost Stamps Jazz Quintet 2021

Frost Stamps String Quartet 2022

Frost Stamps Woodwind Quintet 2023

Gusman Hall, University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

 

Viridian Horizons, Op. 12

Date Composed: February 2020 - March 2020 | Duration: 5 min. and 10 sec.

Instrumentation: SATB Sax Quartet

Commissioner: Invicta Sax Quartet

Program Notes:

      While I do not possess synesthesia to the extremes of such composers as Messiaen or Ligeti, I definitely associate chords and keys with specific colors. In regards to keys specifically (or scales/ modes), the more sharps or flats present, the greener the sound’s color tends to be. Additionally, an abundance of sharps creates bright music, while flat-heavy music tends to be more muted and dark. Viridian Horizons attempts to explore this relationship by combining the chartreuse and pistachio colors associated with the pitch centers of C# and B (four sharps and two sharps respectively) with the azure blue of the pitch center C (three flats). In the process, the titular viridian color is created. Additional inspiration for the work was taken from the soundtrack to the Winter 2020 anime Somali and the Forest Spirit, in which the horizon features as a background thematic element.

Premiere: Spring 2021

Invicta Sax Quartet

Venue TBD

 

Pegasi Delta, Op. 13

Date Composed: April 2020 - May 2020 | Duration: 3 min. and 55 sec.

Instrumentation: Metal Group and Large Orchestra

Program Notes:

      A long standing dream of mine has been to meld the performance practices of heavy metal music with traditional notation and other Western art music techniques. I envision writing for eight string guitars, expanded progressive metal drum kits, and synthesizer keyboards in the same way as I write for string quartet or solo piano. The pinnacle of this dream would be to write for large orchestra and heavy metal group, with the group either functioning in a soloist capacity or as a part of the orchestra itself. Pegasi Delta is my first step into this new territory. The piece revolves around a pentatonic, fourths-based riff that I initially used in an older, now defunct, piece for solo double bass. In its new guise, the riff gives the piece a propulsive energy pushed further by driving drum kit rhythms, lyrical melodies in the strings, and chunky/cloudy accompaniments by the brass and woodwinds, respectively. The title is a reference to a bloody battle in the book Ghosts of Onyx from the Halo franchise. On the remote planet of Pegasi Delta, 300 Spartan-IIIs are sent on a suicide mission to destroy a pivotal Covenant refinery; only two members of the company survive.

Not Yet Premiered

 

Three Textural Études for Piano, Op. 14: No. 1, “Saturday Morning”

Date Composed: December 2018 - January 2019 | Duration: 3 min. 10 sec.

Instrumentation: Solo Piano

Program Notes:

      Early one wintery Saturday morning, I was locked in a particularly lucid dream where I was sitting at the piano, fully aware that I was dreaming. Unable to wake or tear myself away from the instrument, I started to improvise and immediately came up with a pleasing melody and accompaniment. Shortly thereafter, I awoke in my bed with the early morning light just beginning to stream through the blinds. Recognizing that the inspiration would quickly disappear if I did not immediately record it, I wrote down a few scattered ideas on my phone and went back to bed. Later that day, my ideas would transform into this short étude. A reflection on that morning, the piece increases in activity similar to how my dream transpired, culminating in my inspiration, awakening, and subsequent return to peaceful sleep. The predominant technical challenge in this work is balancing the light, sotto voce melody with increasingly florid and awkward accompaniment figures. I sought to keep the piece in the tonal realm while sprinkling in extended harmonies and modal elements.

Premiere: April 27th, 2019

Jacob Mason, piano

St. Bede Chapel, University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

 

Three Textural Études for Piano, Op. 14: No. 2, “Rush”

Date Composed: July 2019 - August 2019 | Duration: 2 min. and 15 sec.

Instrumentation: Solo Piano

Program Notes:

      In the summer of 2019, I found myself stuck in a compositional dry spot; I was completely unenthusiastic for any of the pieces I was writing. Around that time, I had the pleasure of working with American composer Marc Mellits. After studying with Marc and listening to his music, I found myself reinvigorated and immediately began composing a new piece for piano without any regard to external stimuli, and this étude was the result. “Rush” focuses on repetition and layering, favoring harmonic stasis while developing the piece’s motives. The title can be attributed to many different types of “rushes,” such as rush hour traffic, a rush of emotions, or even the band Rush (where the odd time signature patterns are partially drawn from)! However, I had no explicit thought in mind when writing it other than the renewed passion I had for composition.

Premiere: November 12th, 2019

Jacob Mason, piano

St. Bede Chapel, University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

 

Three Textural Études for Piano, Op. 14: No. 3, “Boiling Point”

Date Composed: May 2020 - June 2020 | Duration: 3 min. and 35 sec.

Instrumentation: Solo Piano

Commissioner: Jacob Mason

Program Notes:

      The tumultuous events that have characterized the first half of 2020, both in the world and in my own life, have led me to contemplate the limits that human beings place on themselves, along with the point at which those limits break. If I was to use an analogy, I am interested in “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Why do we bottle up our emotions for extended periods of time, only to release them after x number of problems have arisen? Why do we not deal with our anger close to the moment in time that problems occur, instead of internalizing frustration until our limit is broken? This étude explores this “boiling point,” so to speak. There are many instances of intense and furious passagework, but at what point does the music finally let loose and truly release all of its pent-up steam?

Not Yet Premiered

 

Piano Suite No. 1, "Arcadia," Op. 16

Date Composed: December 2019 - October 2020 | Duration: 25 minutes

Instrumentation: Solo Piano

Commissioner: Aaron Petit

Movements:

I - Toccata (A Dream)

II - Canon (Arcadia)

III - Gigue (Hubris)

IV - Intermezzo (Wordless Lament)

V - Fugue (Machine)

VI - Corrente (Ruination)

VII - Sarabande (A Dirge)

VIII - Epilogue (Forgotten Dream/True Arcadia)

Program Notes:

     Written for Aaron Petit over the course of a chaotic year between 2019 and 2020, this piano suite was a massive undertaking that compiled all of the stylistic traits I developed during my undergraduate years into a singular, all-encompassing musical statement. A programmatic work, the suite confronts the literal and figurative repercussions of humans attempting to create the titular concept of “Arcadia,” or heaven/Eden, here on Earth.

 

     The suite was written alongside a poem of the same name; this poem explains the narrative drama of the suite and the two frequently correspond in terms of content. Each movement is associated with one of the poem’s stanzas, and the secondary movement titles are drawn from the beginning of each stanza. Additionally, many musical elements share associations with passages and words within the poem. However, while the poem sheds light on my personal musical intentions, it is not a necessary read. Listeners are welcome to forgo the poem and draw their own conclusions regarding the suite’s meaning.

 

     Piano Suite No. 1, “Arcadia,” is dedicated to the life and memory of my godmother, Sandra Simons, who passed away shortly before its completion.

Premiere: March 27th, 2021

Aaron Petit, piano

Gusman Hall, University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

 

Toothpaste, Op. 17

Date Composed: December 2020 - January 2021 | Duration: 5 minutes

Instrumentation: Bass Clarinet and Five-Octave Marimba

Program Notes:

     Recently, I was reminded of a quote used by my pre-K teacher, Sandy Bailey: “Words are like toothpaste. Once you squeeze toothpaste out of the tube, you can’t put it back.” This piece is a reflection on both the quote and the nature of arguments, which so often feature toothpaste that cannot be unsqueezed.

Written for Transient Canvas (Amy Advocat and Matt Sharrock).

Premiere: February 16th, 2021

Transient Canvas

Online Concert with UM SCI

 

Crystal Cavern, Op. 19

Date Composed: November 2020 - February 2021 | Duration: 4 minutes

Instrumentation: Flute and Classical Guitar

Program Notes:

     The Venado Caves are an extensive underground network of limestone caverns located beneath the active Arenal Volcano in northwestern Costa Rica. Formed from the same tectonic activity that created their parent volcano, the caves are filled to the brim with stalactites, stalagmites, underground rivers, and even a waterfall. The indigenous Maleku, who lived in the jungles around the volcano, likely discovered the cave system sometime prior to the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
 

     Crystal Cavern pairs the imagery of this unique locale with inspiration from two objects belonging to the Lowe Art Museum’s collection. The first of these is a Costa Rican ocarina (dated ca. 1000-1550) modeled after a two headed jaguar, while the second is the sculpture Solid Volume or Sang by Daniel Clayman. When first exposed to these two objects, I was struck by the idea of someone playing the ocarina alone in a resonant cavern, and how its sounds would interact with any natural structures like stalagmites. During my research, I discovered Venado caves and realized it was a perfect locale to “set” my piece in, as the ocarina quite possibly could have originated from the area or even been built by people like the Maleku.
 

     Musically, Crystal Cavern exploits a variety of motives to represent an adventure through a fantastical underground world filled with bejeweled rock outcroppings, all while the plaintive howls of an ancient instrument echo forlornly through the cavern’s tunnels. The form of the piece follows the contour/colors of Clayman’s sculpture from top to bottom, and extended techniques are used to represent everything from the sound of the ocarina to water droplets.

Crystal Cavern was written in 2021 for Duo Sequenza (Debra Silvert and Paul Bowman) in collaboration with the Lowe Art Museum. The piece was made possible by a CREATE grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Premiere: April 14th, 2021

Duo Sequenza

Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

 

Webdesign by: J Carlin Design

Photography by: Blue Room Photography

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