In September, I traveled to Boonville, California to hear the premiere of Escher Triptych, a new duo for violin and cello that I wrote for the inaugural Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. I had an incredible experience working with Johnny Gandelsman and Joshua Roman in the spring and then again in September on this piece, and the academy, crafted with love by Gabriela, was a most welcome merger of artistic discussion and community building. Below you can hear Johnny and Josh's premiere of the work in a score-following video.
I'm also happy to share with you the new saxophone ensemble version of my string orchestra and wind ensemble work, Mare Tranquillitatis. The Redbird Saxophone Ensemble at Illinois State University premiered it on November 11, and will be taking it to the North American Saxophone Alliance conference in Cincinnati this spring.
In late December, I will be returning to the Midwest Clinic as a member of the Blue Dot Collective. Our booth will be number 2030, so if you are there, please stop by and say hi! I will have readings of two of my string orchestra compositions, Bolt from the Blue and December Lullaby on Thursday. I will also have my two most recent wind ensemble works, Water Bear Jig and December Lullaby, discussed at a repertoire session run by Dr. Armand Hall (University of Memphis) on Wednesday.
I can officially announce that I have been hired by Illinois State University to teach music theory and composition next year! I will be relocating to Normal, IL and will keep busy with a course load that includes undergraduate theory and aural skills, composition lessons, and graduate analysis. I'll split my time between Normal and Chicago and I will continue to serve on the board of New Music Chicago.
It's been a whirlwind spring so far, and I'm currently in the midst of a lot of traveling and performances. My time spent at the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy was extremely inspiring. Of course hiking in the northern California mountains and driving on the Pacific Coast Highway are always extraordinary, but the workshop was unique as well. There was a focus on community building that I had never before experienced as part of a workshop, and I found it extremely welcome and valuable. I'm looking forward to revising my piece and returning in the fall for its premiere.
I am also happy to share a recent recording of (re)Inventions by Ryan Ramsey and Gözde Çakir at Central Michigan University. A video will be coming soon; their performance on April 21 was incredible! Listen here.
I have been very busy composing new works this spring - Thaw, written for the South Loop Symphony directed by Alexandra Dee; Bolt from the Blue, commissioned by the Mason High School Orchestras directed by Stephanie Jones; Moonstone, for clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon, and harp, commissioned by Roby George; a set of studies for violin and cello; and a couple of grade 3 band works titled Lullaby and Little Jig. Thaw was premiered on March 18, Bolt from the Blue will be premiered in May, and Moonstone will be premiered this fall.
The Lullaby and Little Jig were previewed by the Truman State University Wind Symphony II and Honor Band during its honor band weekend in February, during which I was the composer in residence. The Wind Symphony I also performed Mare Tranquillitatis, and quite amazingly I must add. Dr. Curran Prendergast has an incredible program going there in Kirksville, Missouri.
The studies for violin and cello will be workshopped as part of the inaugural Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy for New Music. I will be traveling to northern California to work with Johnny Gandelsman and Joshua Roman on this piece in mid-April, and will then have a chance to revise it for a preview premiere this fall.
Another premiere from earlier this year was of my (Re)Inventions for flute and soprano saxophone, performed by the Centerline Duo at the North American Saxophone Alliance Region V conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ryan Ramsey and Gözde Çakir will play this work again on April 21 at Central Michigan University
I now have the recording of my 2016 work for clarinet and prerecorded electronics, Bunun Fantasy. You can download it using this link. I also recently revisited my 2013 work, Irlandzki Polonez, and posted a score following video below.
12/4/16: In a week and a half, the William Mason High School Wind Symphony, directed by Micah Ewing, will perform my work, Lift-Off, on their program at the Midwest Clinic. A couple months ago, I traveled down to Mason to work with them, and I was blown away by their abilities and musicality. They are a fantastic ensemble and it's an honor and privilege to work with them this fall. Lift-Off won first prize in the 3rd Frank Ticheli Composition Competition and is being released by Manhattan Beach Music this year. In addition to working with the Mason HS Symphony Band, I have been commissioned by the Mason HS Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the school's fiftieth anniversary. I'll be writing their new piece this winter for a premiere in the spring.
At Midwest, I am part of a new composer collective that will make its debut. The Blue Dot Collective consists of David Biedenbender, Viet Cuong, Benjamin Taylor, Jess Turner, and me. We have a booth, so if you're there, we're booth number 2036 and we would love to see you there!
Other projects I'm working on now include a piece for the South Loop Symphony in Chicago, a work about the thaw at the end of winter that finally gives way to spring. It will be premiered in March, 2017. I am also writing a chamber work for Roby George, band director at Indiana State University, who is returning to performing on the saxophone. Scored for alto saxophone, clarinet, bassoon, and harp, he will premiere this work with his colleagues at Indiana State University in early March, 2017.
In April, I will travel to wine country in northern California to participate in the inaugural Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy for New Music. I will be writing a new work for violin and cello that will be workshopped in April, and then it will be finished for a premiere in the fall. This workshop is brand new and I will post more information once it becomes available and public.
8/16/16: As the summer winds down, here is a recap of a very busy last three months that I've had. The Far From Equilibrium performances went incredibly well in June. Each performance was very well attended, and while I could not be at the Night Out in the Parks performances in July, I heard that they were a success as well. At the end of this post is a video from one of the Links Hall performances.
From June 27 through August 5, I served as the Kaplan Fellow in composition at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, working closely with Derek Bermel to coordinate the composition program, and also arranging a number of performances of my compositions. In all, I had nine performances, including two world premieres and two US premieres, and I finished writing two compositions. I have posted seven new recordings from Bowdoin so far: Telescopic Variations for piano trio, Chameleon for cello sextet, Tender Buttons for soprano and violin, Fireworks for piano four hands, Phoenix Song for solo clarinet and string quartet, Iridescence for throat singing clarinetist and cello, and Two Canons for cello duo. I wrote Iridescence as part of a 48-hour concert where we drew performers' names out of a hat, I had 36 hours to write a brand new composition, and then the final 12 hours could be spent rehearsing before the concert of premieres.
6/16/16: I'm thrilled to announce that my work, Fractal Miniatures, won the grand prize in the inaugural China-US Composers Project Emerging Composers Competition! This means that Fractal Miniatures will be performed at Carnegie Hall next season by the American Composers Orchestra as part of a Chinese-US new music festival. More details will follow, and I have posted the EOS Repertoire Orchestra's phenomenal performance at the Beijing Modern Music Festival at the end of this post.
Also, next week, an incredible collaboration I have been a part of is coming to fruition. Far From Equilibrium is a performance based on the science of turbulence. I have composed a brand new 20-minute clarinet quartet that will be accompanied by seven dancers, and I can tell you that the dance is mesmerizing. Tickets are on sale for $10 in advance or $15 at the door, so if you're anywhere near Chicago, I hope you're able to come to one of the performances June 24-26. I also implore you to make a donation to our online fundraising campaign so that we can ensure that we can provide the supplies for the interactive research lab as well as compensate the incredibly hard working musicians and dancers. Every little bit helps!
5/22/16: Next week will be the inaugural China-US Composers Project Emerging Composers Competition, and I am very excited to announce that I am one of seven Chinese or Chinese-American composers chosen to participate! The orchestral version of Fractal Miniatures will be performed at the Beijing Modern Music Festival on May 31. Details about the competition are available on the American Composers Orchestra website, and the program can be viewed on the BMMF website.
After I return to Chicago, it's the homestretch for an amazing collaboration that has been in the works for the last five months. Far From Equilibrium was conceived in 2015, when physicist Elizabeth Hicks and choreographer Megan Rhyme created a 20-minute dance piece based on the science of turbulence. This year, they brought me into the project to compose a brand new piece for the dance, and it will culminate in premiere performances in Links Hall at Constellation on June 24-26, and then three more performances as part of Chicago's Night Out in the Parks in July. I am composing a clarinet quartet, also based on the scientific shapes and energy cascades of turbulence. Details for this project and performances and links to purchase tickets can be found on the FFE website.
I have also posted two new recordings. First is of Three Ostinatos, a new work for wind ensemble. Check out a recording by the Oyster Bay High School, conducted by Matthew Sisia on the composition's page. I can also now share a recording of my recent sonata for saxophone and piano. This work traces the rain cycle, specifically through rain's absence and overabundance. It was commissioned by Scotty Phillips, and you can hear his phenomenal performance below:
3/31/16: I'm back home in Chicago after a bunch of very rewarding trips around the country. I just got back from hearing the Alpharetta High School Wind Ensemble, directed by Mike Walsh, perform Mare Tranquillitatis at Carnegie Hall. They gave a wonderful performance of some very diverse literature and their rendition of Mare was extremely sensitive and beautiful. I also made a trip to Lubbock, Texas, where I spent four days at the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial National Conference at Texas Tech University. Scotty Phillips premiered my brand new Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, and I'll have a recording to post soon.
Up next will be a few local performances for me. The Chicago Ensemble will be performing Irlandzki Polonez, one of the winning works of their Discover American VIII contest, twice in Chicago on April 12 and 17.
I'm happy to announce that I am one of six composers selected for the inaugural Civic Orchestra Composers Project, with my trio for violin, bassoon, and percussion, Lunation 1113. It will be workshopped and coached by members of Eighth Blackbird and performed at the Chicago Symphony Center on May 13.
I am also currently composing a short work for piano-four hands that will be premiered at the Artist Series of Sarasota's 20th anniversary celebration concerts at the end of May. The Artist Series has been very generous to me, giving me the first professional performance of one of my compositions when Jacques Israelievitch and Rebecca Penneys performed Frolic in 2003. They gave me opportunities to perform on the piano and gave me a scholarship that lasted through my undergraduate career, sponsored by the late Virginia Toulmin. I am very excited to be returning to Sarasota in May for this premiere.
Below is a video of the Alabama All-State Festival Orchestra, conducted by Peter Bay, premiering the orchestral version of Tangents last February:
2/21/16: I'm in the midst of a number of trips around the country for residencies and to see performances of my compositions. Last week's Alabama Orchestra Association All-State Festival was an extremely rewarding experience for me, and the premiere of the orchestral version of Tangents went very well. Look for a recording to be posted within the next few weeks. I had a wonderful time working with Peter Bay and the festival orchestra, and also presenting to all of the students about my background and compositional process. A huge thank you to the AOA for bringing me out to Tuscaloosa for the festival!
Next up is a trip to Terre Haute, Indiana, where I will be working with Dr. Roby George and the wind ensemble on Tangents. They will be performing it on Tuesday, February 23 in Terre Haute, and again on Thursday, February 25 at the CBDNA North-Central Regional Conference at Iowa State University. I will be accompanying them to the conference and look forward to seeing and meeting many colleagues there.
Finally, I'll leave you with a video I found of the US Air Force band performing the third movement of Bennu's Fire last fall, with TSgt Brian Wahrlich playing solo clarinet last fall.
Happy new year! I'm excited to announce that I have been chosen as the winner of the 2016 Alabama Orchestra Association Composition Contest, with the orchestral version of Tangents. I will be in residence at the Alabama All-State Festival in February to work with the top young musicians in Alabama as they work towards a premiere of my piece, as well as give presentations on my compositions and process.
The wind ensemble version of Tangents, premiered last fall by the Kennesaw State University Wind Ensemble, directed by David Thomas Kehler, is also scheduled to be performed a handful of times this winter and spring, including at the North/Central CBDNA Regional Conference, hosted by Iowa State University late in February. Listen below to the KSU wind ensemble premiering Tangents:
Other upcoming performances include a number of honor bands performing Mare Tranquillitatis, including the TMEA All-State Concert Band, conducted by Dr. Kevin Geraldi. The Alpharetta High School, directed by Michael Walsh, will be performing it at Carnegie Hall at the National Concert Band Festival this March. The Chicago Ensemble, as part of their Discover America VIII competition, will be performing my virtuosic Irlandzki Polonez twice in April in two different Chicago locations.
Finally, I have created a score-following video of my 2015 Edgar Allan Poe inspired chamber work, The Tell-Tale Heart. Brilliantly performed by the SONAR new music ensemble, with Robert A. Baker conducting, watch the video below: