Hildegard and Jacques

Waxen (Performance by Oberlin CME)


Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME)
05/06/15 – Oberlin, OH – Oberlin Conservatory, Warner Concert Hall

Aram Mun, flute
Natalia Badziak, viola
Eliot Haas, cello
Annie I-Lin Tsai, piano
Timothy Weiss, conductor

Waxen retains material from a previously composed duet of mine for violin and viola entitled Cantus. Both the sound world and technique of arpeggiating over the open strings is here composed in a more rigorous manner transformed from a formerly improvised texture to one that is more controlled. Waxen also strives to rework the form of the baroque minuet; the traditional form: I, II, I, III, I da capo is reconstructed by way of misplaced repetitions and eliding material. This scheme is additionally interrupted by an interlude and bagatelle. This “trite” dance form consisted of quick steps and jumps performed at court, and was often found at the tail-end of baroque dance suites as a sort of palate cleanser. The transformation of this dance in Waxen engenders (I hope) a more current and personal expression of the minuet form.

Brossard Dictionary (1703) Minuet definition:
“…a kind of dance, the steps whereof are extremely quick and short, it consists of a coupe, a high step and a balance; it begins with a beat, and its motion is triple…”

Falling in love with Sade

NEW PIECE: …ist ganz verderbt (duet)

Currently working on a new piece for Clarinet and Bassoon duet entitled …ist gang verderbt (is completely corrupted) for friends Zachary Good and Benjamin Roidl-Ward. The score and recording will be posted once they are finished, see below for program notes and more specifics that may be of interest, enjoy!

Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, J.S. Bach


Fibonacci numbers



Passus “having suffered” is a word describing the musical affect that J.S. Bach undertakes in his chorale prelude for organ solo “Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt” (through Adam’s fall is all corrupt), which was a popular hymn (written by Lazarus Spengler) set by Bach and many of his contemporaries to music for congregational singing. Though the text describes salvation, Bach’s work is highly chromatic with meandering and serpentine figures above a bass line that descends by the dissonant interval of a 7th over and over again. In this duet for clarinet and bassoon, Bach’s sound-world is alluded to and makes up most of the palette throughout a set of 12 chorale variations. These variations elide into my own harmonization of this famous chorale by way of a tremulant, a device on a pipe organ that varies the wind supply to the pipes creating a trembling and variable sound. In essence, my re-imagining of this chorale retains much of the affect of the original, yet I’m not aiming for an overtly despondent tone. The Fibonacci sequence of numbers: (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21) dictate many of the proportions of this duet as well as interrupting some of the larger scale events taking place. Just as the spirals inside of a seashell correspond to the proportions of Fibonacci numbers, I have in this duet created a natural shell that has broken, fractured and collapsed on itself. Perhaps one could imagine a beach covered in such rubble and wreckage following Spengler’s last stanza. “For my feet your holy word is a blazing lantern, a light that shows me the way forward; as this morning star rises…”


Blind Willie Johnson, Moan’

CONCERT: Emissary Quartet (april 20)

The Emissary Quartet (flute quartet) will be playing a newly wrought arrangement of my piece Wedge originally for flute trio on April 20, check out their website above for more specifics. Below is a performance of Wedge taken during my senior recital at the Oberlin Conservatory, enjoy!

David Bird “DROP”

Check out composer and friend David Bird‘s new work “drop”, a real doozy, enjoy!

CONCERT: Kyle Dee Johnson (april 14)

Pianist Kyle Dee Johnson will be performing my piano solo /Hush/ on April 14 at UW Madison. Check out Shuhui Yin performing /Hush/ around a year ago in the video below, enjoy!

Very nice song by Mitski

and interview below:

CONCERT: The Syndicate (April 12)

Check out this cool new music group The Syndicate in Cleveland, OH April 12 performing some great pieces by composers and friends: Geoffrey King, Andrew Stock, Josh Rosner and myself! Violinist Tara Lynn Ramsey and Violist Andrew Stock will be performing my most recent duet Lucet Aurora “dawn shines” Check the program note and cool poster below for more info, enjoy!


Lucet Aurora “dawn shines” refers to the antiphon composed by Hildegard von Bingen entitled “Hodie Aperuit”. The idea of recreating the textural sound world of choral performance, in this case chant, by use of instrumental ensembles has fascinated me for years, consequently two of Bingen’s chants were used as subjects throughout the composition of this piece. Here I attempt to recreate this sound world by way of several layers of antiphonally related material, passed as a sort of canon or call-and-response between the two performers. The modal/chant based pitched world and utilization of the open strings and extraction of harmonic overtones from these instruments allowed me not only to re-enact the vocal consonances and organ-esque flexing of a choir but also to erect the reverberant church-like architecture in which this chant may be performed.

Originally inspired by Bingen’s chant and illusions of the Ionian mode, this work took on the unexpected guise of operatically revolving sections. Perhaps stumbling upon Bingen’s liturgical drama Ordo Virtutum stimulated this association, therefore the final form became an arrangement of four contrasting sections: recitative, intermezzo, ritornello and aria/duet which are constantly interrupting one another over the course of the piece. This is in part my own form of historical performance, how I hear it best. “I play my own blues” – Lighting Hopkins. Lucet Aurora is part of the Melos Cycle for violin trio, in which a series of violin solos are performed one after the other, each based on a mode and the concept of its etymology and complex historical foundation.