On the Current Divided State of Our Country, 2222.2121. timp. 2 perc. strings (2016-17)
duration: 21 minutes
Program note: On the Current Divided State of our Country is a multi-movement work for orchestra which explores the experiences, emotions, and philosophical questions that arise from living in the 21st century world in sound. Its primary inspiration comes from the particularly polarized 2016 American Presidential Election, which showed just how hostile fellow Americans have become towards those with different viewpoints. I was interested in exploring what happens when people’s beliefs become so entrenched and so separated from the other that they are almost irreconcilable. How does one negotiate having a unified country when either side thinks that the other’s views and policies will literally destroy it? How does a society push forward into the future when nobody can agree on anything; when there are cracks and fissures that go as deep as basic epistemology? On the Current Divided State of our Country explores these questions in a musical sense, using the orchestra as an analogue for the United States of America. The first movement, “Fractures,” explores themes of developing into disunity by gradual splintering through a variety of musical means. Cracks appear in different sections harmonically, contrapuntally, texturally, and more, to the point of even tearing the fabric of the music itself in a collage-esque fashion. The second movement, “Polarization,” explores more harsh juxtapositions of musical textures such as harmony, range, and style. Conflicts are more defined, less reconciled, and the situation bleak. Like most hard questions, there are no true answers, and this piece does not offer any concrete solutions. Rather, it is attempt to reconcile the current situation and hopefully create an open dialogue around how we as a people can coexist together.
Essay for Orchestra, 3243.4331. timp. 4 perc. strings, (2014)
duration: 10 minutes
Program note: Essay for Orchestra is a study piece for a large orchestra influenced heavily by the music and philosophy of Alfred Schnittke. The piece begins with a primordial stirring in the strings, with a muted trumpet calling out the monogram of ASCH (S being E flat and H being B natural). The call is then passed to the high woodwinds, until it breaks apart into a collage of polyphonic nonsense, which is brought together by a single pitch. This movement from chaos to stability is an important structural element to the piece; it guides the transition from section to section. The music then progresses antiphonally from family to family, juxtaposing various musical elements ranging from twelve-tone serialism, functional tonality, homophony, polyphony, consonance, dissonance, as well as a large variety of texture and timbre. The piece culminates in a grandiose Bb major brass chorale, interspersed with the frenzied polyphony from earlier in the winds, strings, and percussion. Unable to decide on a style, the ensemble breaks into chaos, a barrage of noise without tempo or organization, which stabilizes itself on the final unison of B natural. The last bar of the piece is also a tribute to Schnittke: the whole rest with a fermata marked with three fs appears on his gravestone.
Fanfare and March for Orchestra, 3222.4231. timp. 2 perc. strings, (2013)
duration: 6 minutes
Program note: Fanfare and March for Orchestra was composed in Fall 2013 as a bit of an exercise. Having never written for a full orchestra before, the piece is scored for a more traditional orchestra and draws heavily on many of my influences as a composer, namely Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven. The piece opens with a dissonant tone cluster stated in the horns, a sort of hellish fanfare far from triumphant. After the initial fanfare, the piece meanders around different ideas until the march enters, a sort of Prokofiev-ian theme of a childish character. Several different musical ideas are elaborated on and intertwined with the march theme, climaxing into a wave of dissonance throughout the whole orchestra.
Ontogenesis for Wind Ensemble, 32244.43311. piano. timp. 5 perc, (2014)
duration: 10 minutes
Program note: Ontogenesis is the origination and development of an organism, usually from the time of fertilization of the egg to the organism's mature form. In this case of this piece, the organism is a human being, represented by the entire wind ensemble, and the piece vaguely outlines the life a human from birth to adulthood. In order to convey this, the piece is in four sections: “Birth,” “Discovery,” “Challenge,” and “Conclusion.” The first section is represented by a general waking up of the ensemble, beginning with a solo flute and progressing throughout the rest of the band, who are all given the direction “Begin warming up.” In “Discovery,” the ensemble takes on the character of a young child, essentially relearning to play music together, as a child needs to learn to coordinate all their limbs in order to walk. “Challenge” represents the different expectations, pressures, and choices a person faces when reaching adolescence and early adulthood. In the “Conclusion” section, our person reaches adulthood; choices are made, a path is chosen, and things are partially resolved.