Works for Ensemble 


Ultraviolet Cleopatra  

for flute, clarinet, violin, percussion, electric bass, computer (2-channel audio playback) six-voice drone synthesizer, and gong resonator speaker

Commissioned by the Toy Piano Composers

Pulling influence from Classical Era film scores, Spectralism, and Postmodern pop rock, Ultraviolet Cleopatra, is a sonic meditation on strong women, Chillwave electronica, and the historical through line connecting Pop Culture Empresses of the past and present. Throughout the piece, the ensemble alternates between performing aleatoric, quasi-improvisational cells and scored material, overlapping impromptu abandon and strict decorum. A six-voice synthesizer shifts and slides through diatonic harmonies in its bass voices with a humming buzz reminiscent of fading neon lights as its treble voices—sent through custom built surface transducer speakers—are amplified through gongs to create a cloud of shimmering overtones. A heavily processed electric violin creates echoing, pitch-delayed melody lines as if carefully tracing worn hieroglyphs on stone or somberly singing to a dazed crowd of thousands. The backing audio track recontextualizes us in pop-cultural time as the immortal words of Ancient Egypt’s Last Pharaoh lead us to the co-mingled strains of Virginia Hensely and Lizzie Grant, stretching like an aural tablet for the ensemble to carve their final remarks into.

 

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Weld

for iPad (Curtis granular synthesis app), four circuit-bent radios, and computer (6-channel audio playback)

 

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Inspired by the Cantiere series of paintings by Italian artist Walter Trecchi, Weld is a multi-movement, improvisatory piece for iPad, circuit-bent radios, and prerecorded audio. The audio track is mixed as a 6-channel audio file, sending two channels through the house audio system and the remaining four channels through individual radios placed on stage around the performer. The iPad performer uses the Curtis granular synthesis app to manipulate a prerecorded sound file that contains raw samples of various sounds found throughout the backing audio track. The player manipulates this audio file by running their finger over the waveform displayed on the iPad’s screen, while also changing effects and sampling parameters such as reverb, delay, and grain size. Since the iPad performance is entirely improvised, there is no traditional score provided. An Audio Cue Sheet for the first movement only is included in place of a score for the first movement. For the second movement, all iPad performance gestures, as well as circuit bends moments, should be designated by the performer. Information on circuit bending procedure for the radios can be obtained by contacting the composer.

 
 

Terre Haute, IN  

for soprano, mezzo soprano, violin, percussion, computer processed piano, and interactive electronics (custom cellphone MIDI controllers, 2-channel audio playback)

Commissioned by Rhymes with Opera for the 2014 New Chamber Music Workshop

Terre Haute, IN is the second portion of Jason and the Argonauts, a sonic short story focusing on love, loss, travel, and communication in the Digimodernist age. Karen and Tom, (who have struggled with their romantic feelings for each other for over five years) are traveling across the United States with a group of friends. Karen struggles with her complex feelings for Tom; should she pursue a relationship with him, or would it make more sense to keep things the way they are? While stopped at a gas station outside of Terre Haute, in the shadow of one of the state’s largest prisons, she texts her friend Lisa to ask for some advice on the matter while Tom sits in the car.

During the performance, both vocalists use custom cellphone controllers to playback audio cues as they ” text” to one another. As the piece progresses, the layout of cue buttons on the phone screens change, allowing for the element of chance to make each performance unique. While the spoken dialogue is written by the composer, the sung text is pulled from the Federal Department of Prisons’ rules and regulations for visiting inmates.

 

Mid-Century Marfa

for toy piano, plastorgan, Totem harp and electric fans

Winner of the UnCaged Toy Piano Festival's 2013 call for scores

Commissioned and premiered by Phyllis Chen

 

Inspired by one of the American Southwest’s most culturally significant and mysterious locations, Mid-Century Marfa paints a sonic portrait of the small town of Marfa, Texas and comments on the significant role it has played in popular culture, experimental artistic circles, and rural legacy. A town oft depicted in both vintage photographs and Instagram facsimiles, Marfa and its people consistently defy convention and somehow exist straddled between the Past and the Future, but nowhere near the Present.

Exploring the musical conventions and sonic extremities of cowboy lullabies, windswept plains, mid-century Texas rock ‘n’ roll, and contemporary experimental harmonies, Mid-Century Marfa provides a unique performance experience for adventurous toy pianists/multi-instrumental performers.

This piece requires the use of two instruments handmade by the composer: a plastorgan (built from a collection of plastic bottles with vertical slits carved into their bodies) and an aeolian harp (constructed out of an aluminum downspout and nylon fishing line. Both of these instruments are powered by electric fans. Pictures of these instruments can be found in the gallery below.

Communiqué  

for vocal quartet (SSAA), narrator, postcards, and computer (2-channel audio playback)

Commissioned and premiered by the Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble for their Fall 2012 Midwest Tour

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The first portion of Jason and the Argonauts, a series of pieces focusing on love, loss, travel, and communication in the Digimodernist Age. In order to emulate the story’s focus on memory and the recurrence of unpredicted actions, each of the four vocalists are tasked with repeating cells of melodic and percussive material as many times as they’d like across a designated span of time. While many of these actions are unsynchronized, the piece calls for a few moments of unification between the four vocalists, resulting in swelling chords and moments of punctuated, parallel-motion voice leading. In addition to the repetitive approach to vocal performance, the prerecorded audio track includes skipping, glitching samples of organ drones and melodic figures—emulating a skipping mixed CD that would have surely been sent between these two characters as a slightly ironic romantic gesture—made with the Chocolate Grinder software designed by Rodrigo Constanzo. The story’s focus on phone and digital means of communication vs. physical postcards and letters also makes it way into the audio track in the form of electronic voltage sounds recorded with a teletap coil microphone being run over my laptop’s spinning disc drive, battery pack, and motherboard (you can see video of this process in action by heading here).

Communiqué also includes elements of theatricality that directly connect to  the narration. In the middle of the piece, each vocalist takes a turn pulling a “prepared” postcard from a randomly shuffled pile and performs the musical passage attached to the back of it. While the repeated cells of musical material throughout the majority of the piece are to performed with minimal expression and are short and precise in nature, these postcard passages are highly expressive and allow the vocalists to sing with a more operatic, soloistic approach in order to emulate Karen’s romantic yet cryptic confessions of love towards our male narrator. The juxtaposition between repetitive, mechanical performances and emotionally stirring, old-world operatic soloistic performances comments on Communiqué’s main discussions of digital vs. analog communication and carefully planned, rehearsed conversation vs. visceral, emotional confessions.



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In Country/In Motion

for oboe, piano, and computer (live video mixing/playback)

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Commissioned by the soundSCAPE International Composition and Performance Exchange and premiered at the 2011 festival by Daniel Walden and Dana Limpert

Influenced by years of commuting across the Pennsylvania/Maryland countryside, this piece relies heavily on chance and indeterminacy by providing the performers with multiple options of musical material to perform at every turn

 

 

View the piano part for this piece

*Audio coming soon!*

 

Europe During the Cold War

for string quartet and computer (2-channel audio playback)

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A collection of six movements and a prologue depicting my travels through Italy and Scotland in the summer of 2009, this piece draws heavy harmonic, rhythmic and aesthetic influence from the popular music trends of each country (electro-pop and dance music from Italy and indie pop and rock from Scotland) in order to create a unique sense of contemporary compositional identity for them both

 

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Waldorf-Astoria

for electric guitar, acoustic guitar, record player, ukulele, computer (2-channel audio playback), music box, tenor voice, and keyboards

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A sonic love letter to nostalgia and the contemporary trend of embracing the culture of our past, Waldorf-Astoria lends performance and compositional aspects of pop and classical mindsets across the ages, highlighting the history of cosmopolitan American life as seen through a postmodern prism

 

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This Place is Forgotten

for piano, clarinet, violin, classical guitar, mandolin, and computer (2-channel audio playback)

Commissioned by the soundSCAPE International Composition and Performance Exchange and premiered at the 2009 festival by Ariana Lamon-AndersonJames Robert Lowe, Martha Morrison, Russel Ronnebaum, and Avi Avital

Written during my first Baltimore winter, This Place is Forgotten focuses on introspection, loss, and finding the ability to move forward

 

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Not in Kansas

for keyboards, viola, prepared electric guitar, piano, Marxophone, Omnichord, and computer (2-channel audio playback)

Note: This piece can also be performed by a single person

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A multi-movement piece focusing on daily events occurring in my Baltimore neighborhood, Not in Kansas focuses on the process of adjusting to a new locale and a new life while highlighting the natural beauty and significance of traditionally mundane moments

 

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On Space and Car Crashes

for synthesizers, electric guitar, vibraphone, marimba, civilian percussion, and computer (2-channel audio playback)

 

Inspired by a car accident and the process of regaining the memory of the moment of collision, On Space and Car Crashes focuses on the feelings of pain, shock, and confusion that surround a dramatic event

 

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*Audio coming soon!*

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