chiaroscuro, for solo piano (2016)
Commissioned in 2016 by Jonathan Hannau
One movement work
Full duration: 7 minutes
Premiered on May 5th, 2016 at Ravenswood United Methodist Church, Chicago, IL by Jonathan
Video recording performed on April 15th, 2017 at Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL by
Program note: “Chiaroscuro” is an artistic concept that deals with the strong juxtaposition of light and dark elements. In life, a chiaroscuro exists between light elements such as hope and good will and dark elements such as fear and terror. Living today in a post 9-11 society, the struggle between these two elements is all too clear. Even more, the dark elements threaten the light; the sheer power of fear and terror caused by certain groups throughout the world can take root in free societies, causing people to abandon the light elements of hope, good will, and humanitarian action in favor of self-preservation. These recent events have given rise to widespread xenophobia, a reduction in our civil liberties, and ultimately threaten the progress we have made as human beings. Can hope triumph over fear? Or will terrorism achieve its goal?
Condensation, for solo piano (2016)
Condensation is written after a poem of the same name by the original performer of this work, Katrina Sudman. The full text is printed below. The music is meant to convey the broad images and feelings reflected in the language, and generally follows the structure of the poem. At first the music is expansive, creating lush and wide sonorities, which then contract into a drier, more closed setting. After a brief period, the music expands back out again, this time into swirls, much like the concentric circles mentioned in the last stanza.
The score can be purchased by clicking here.
duration: 2.5 minutes
Fireball is a short, fast concert piece for solo violin. The name of the piece came from an apt description of the original violinist's personality, and the piece mirrors her "fireball" spirit - loud, brash, unapologetic, and ultimately a blast to be around. The piece is characterized by fast moving chromatic lines, contrasted by lyrical melodies arranged in odd time signatures.
The score can be purchased by clicking here.
Five Aphorisms after Kafka, for solo piano, (2014)
duration: 13 minutes
Program note: This piece was written for Dr. Nicholas Phillips as part of a Faculty-Student Collaborative Research Grant at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The piece is based on five different aphorisms of Franz Kafka, taken from Reflections on Sin, Pain, Hope, and the True Way. Each movement grabs on to a particular image or idea of the text and tries to capture it in a musical medium. As a result, the music becomes picturesque, almost a sound painting, transferring words to images through a middleman: the piano. The particular Aphorisms with their numberings appear below in the order of the movements:
#1: The true way goes over a rope which is not stretched at any great height but just above the ground. It seems more designed to make people stumble than to be walked upon.
#12: Like a road in autumn: Hardly is it swept clean before it is covered again with dead leaves.
#13: A cage went in search of a bird.
#66: Theoretically there exists a perfect possibility of happiness: to believe in the indestructible element in oneself and not strive after it.
#73: Intercourse with human beings seduces one to self-contemplation.
Nighthawks, for solo oboe and tape (2014)
duration: 5 minutes
Program note: This piece is based off of the painting of the same name by Edward Hopper, made in 1942. Instead of literally trying to depict the painting in music, this piece focuses on more of the theme of isolation evident in the work. This is accomplished in a couple of ways. The first is in the obvious: the solo oboe is put against a backdrop of ambient background noise and wild random instrumental tracks, never fully integrated with whatever is going on. The second way is through the oboe’s melodic passages. It begins with a bluesy, longing melody, interrupted by a big band (Hopper was one of the pioneers of the film noir look, which factors heavily into this piece). The oboe then experiments with different motives from the original melody, trying various ones out, but unable to carry any to completion. This culminates in an outburst of anger, after which the big band intervenes again and the oboist goes back to what they know – the original melody from the beginning. The piece was commissioned by and is dedicated to Jonathan Conjurske.