Instrumentation: String Quartet
Premiere: May 26, 2012 :: Stenhammar String Quartet :: Uppsala, Sweden
I am often inspired by the fleeting moments of consciousness as I fall asleep, a space that lies between the real and the surreal, between waking and dreaming. As I lay in bed one evening, I began to imagine a glass of water, filled to the brim, with the water rising slightly over the top, surface tension preventing it from spilling over. I picked up the glass and began to toss it up and down, yet the water remained intact, held together by a strange force. I then pulled the water out of the glass with my fingers and tossed the droplets into the air. As if in slow motion, some droplets fell to the ground and bounced like metal beads, others shattered like fragile glass, some fell upward and outward toward the ceiling and the walls, and yet others simply floated perpetually in midair, refusing to fall at all. In writing Surface Tension, I wanted to capture the imagery and surreality of this dream, stretching time, objects, and spaces in the same way that was possible only in that dream-space.
Included in the 2013 PARMA Recordings Anthology of Music.
Instrumentation: Saxophone Quartet
Duration: ca. 8:30
Premiere: June 4, 2010 :: PRISM Quartet :: Symphony Space, New York City, NY
Purchasing: Murphy Music Press
Program Notes: I am fascinated by sleep and dreams and, consequently, the incredibly weird and bizarre thoughts, ideas, experiences, and sounds that come out of this seemingly inactive and tranquil aspect of human existence. For instance, while working late at night, I frequently hear my wife talking aloud, presumably either to me or to something or someone with whom she is interacting in her dreams. The language is neither English nor gibberish and contains familiar words and sounds but is completely incomprehensible to me. I often imagine what it would be like to talk with her while she sleeps and experience what she experiences, but alas, I am awake and she is asleep—there is a veil of consciousness between us. For this piece, I imagined a musical language that is a sort of synthesis of both the clarity and compete nonsense of this surreal language—a kind of dialogue between the conscious self and the sleeping self. you’ve been talking in your sleep was commissioned by the PRISM Quartet.
Instrumentation: Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Marimba, Piano
Duration: ca. 5:00
Premiere: March 14, 2008 :: eighth blackbird (reading session) :: University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance :: Ann Arbor, MI
The title, Stomp, refers to a heavy, syncopated dance with some serious attitude—picture a Saturday night jam session—in a barn—featuring a crazed country fiddle band and Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers.