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  • as I escape, the water calms

    as I escape, the water calms

    New piece for Lotus, a new saxophone trio based out in Arizona with Justin Rollefson, Sam Detweiler, and Kristen Zelenak. This piece has a lot of deep meaning to me, and is one of the fastest pieces I've composed in awhile. I couldn't stop writing. Score and parts are for sale here

    Program Notes 

    In 2015 I wrote a piece called he said there was no sound for the Rogue Trio in response to the school shootings that had become an epidemic. Since then, shootings have not only continued to happen they have become larger with death counts on the rise. Every single time, it gets worse. After the shooting in Orlando at the Pulse Night Club, I sat down to write a piece completely in tears. I never made it past the first page. They have taken our safe spaces. As an openly gay man, the one place where I am supposed to live with zero fear of persecution became one of my biggest fears. When will it end? 

    On October 1st, 2017, a man decided to end the lives of 58 individuals at the Mandalay Bay on the Las Vegas Strip. When I was growing up, my grandparents lived about five minutes from the strip. I have been to the Mandalay Bay at least 10 times. My younger sister, who I have had a strained relationship with for the past few months was supposed to go to a concert at the Mandalay Bay on October 7th, 2017, a concert that could have easily been the week before. 

    The cover art and subject of this piece seem to be conflicting in inspiration. About four days before the shooting, I had been asked by the saxophone trio Lotus to compose a new work for saxophone trio. Having worked with Justin Rollefson in the past on he said there was no sound, I had to say yes. Normally when I compose a new work, I sit down with the commissioner, and I ask them what they want the piece to be about. I try to find common ground between us in areas that have affected us in ways that will become a more meaningful creative experience. We surfaced on nature, hiking, rivers, and waterfalls. It took me back to an experience I had earlier this summer at Snoqualmie Falls, here in Washington about 45 minutes east of Seattle. 

    We had been hanging out when he randomly had the inclination to get out of the city. It was already about 3 pm, so he decided to take an impromptu trip to Snoqualmie and asked me to come along. Having never been, I jumped at the chance to see what had been described as one of the most beautiful sights in the region. The way the colors are so much more vibrant at that time of day. If you go at the right time, you can see rainbows. The water hitting the rocks below is incredibly calming. At the time, I desperately needed an escape from my normal day-to-day life. 

    As I reflect back on that experience I just sometimes want to escape to nature and live a calm existence while listening to the constant sound of a waterfall. This piece is my response to Mandalay Bay, and how I hope to continue living my life in spite of the true evil that exists in the world. 

  • other cities, and future projects

    other cities, and future projects

    New piece! other cities was commissioned by Chris Sies, and will be performed sometime in the spring. I hope to have a recording by November. Chris is the percussionist in the group Latitude 49 and they will be doing my work "he said there was no sounds" on one of their programs coming up soon.

    Program Notes:

    People often forget how much where they live affects how they live their lives. I often walk around the city I’m currently living in and think about all the other cities I’ve lived in and visited, and how that has shaped who I am. Growing up in a sprawling suburb that is the 6th largest city in the US, then moving to the largest city in the US. I then moved to a small college town, and by the time I wrote this piece, I was living in a medium sized city. So many different landscapes, all with their own types of nature, sounds, and people.

    Chris Sies, to whom this piece is written for has experienced a similar phenomenon, especially as he prepares to move to a small town in Texas with a density nearly 2.5 times less than the small town we both lived in in the mid west. As I think about the urban sprawl there, or up-zoning here, I question where are the similarities. We are all people trying to make it through this world. We have busy lives. We travel the world. And at the end of the day we are shaped by other cities. 

    Also:

    Other things that are going on. I am now writing a new piece for Saxophone Trio for the Lotus Trio, based out in Arizona. I wrote "he said there was no sound" for Justin Rollefson of the Rogue Trio in 2015, and he has asked me to write this new work for him. Its going pretty well so far, the title will be "as I escape, the water calms" It explores my connection with nature, as a means of escape for the realities of the world today. Expect to see that later this month.

    I've been asked to serve on the Board of the Sound Ensemble. They are a really wonderful ensemble based in Seattle, and share my values in programing by not having an aesthic limit. Also as a flexible ensemble they are able to a wide variaty of work. I hope to help them continue the sucess they have shown over the last 3 years.

    Things with ÆPEX Contemporary Performance are going great. We just announced our third season which can be found on that website. 

    I also recieved a new commission from composer and organist Benjamin Teague (UK) that I will be working on when I complete the saxophone trio. More details when I release the saxophone trio.

    Finally, I have been asked to serve on the faculty of the Seattle Conservatory of Music. I will be developing the curriculum for the pre-college program, teaching 4 pre-college age students composition. For more info visit their website at http://seattleconservatory.org

  • above the cascades

    above the cascades

    It's been awhile since I was able to write about what I have been up to. I promise you have been busy, juggling multiple projects. above the cascades is one, along side a work on Mount St. Helens for Michael Heitmann, as well as a new percussion piece for percussionist Chris Sies


    I'm also in the process of starting a duo with talented soprano Sammie Gorham. Watch here for more info to come on that. 

    p r o g r a m   n o t e s 

    The mountains are part of what makes the Pacific Northwest a beautiful sight. On one side of the cascades is a rainy temperate climate; while on the other is an arid desert. The mountains create a rain shadow causing little to no precipitation. The snow-covered mountains are a gorgeous sight to see. This piece explores the approximately 7-minute flight from the moment you can see the Cascades to the moment you cannot see them anymore. As with many of my other pieces which explore flying; as a frequent traveler I often look out the window and explore the great expanse from above the clouds. The larger moments that occur in this piece are during periods of when I could see larger mountains, but the work stays fairly active throughout the piece due to the nearly 80 miles of constant mountainous terrain with little to no open space in between.

  • Horizons, and a New String Orchestra Piece

    I have been working on a String orchestra piece which slightly delayed my new piece Horizons completion. I've had a fairly rough year with Death and tradgedy. Both my grandparents have passed away in the last 6 months. The tradgedy in orlando, and all the other violence has put me in a memorial type mood. The Orchestra piece is being written in Memorium of my grandparents. Afterwards, I would like to write a choir piece to remember the victims of the shooting in orlando. I am in the process of finding a choir which might be interested in this. Exciting thing to come!

    I also finally completed the piece for Kaylea Payne and it should premier sometime in the fall. Here are the program notes!

    Program Notes

    “Horizons” was written for Horn player Kaylea Payne. She asked me to create something that described the relationship she has with one of her favorite teachers David Balogh. A strong mentor, he also happens to play the Bassoon. Each instrument represents a different element of her life. The Horn represents Kaylea, and her determination from the time she decided to focus on music seriously to today. The bassoon represents Kaylea’s teacher David, and the Piano represents the perpetual motion of life. Life is just a series of Horizons. You look towards it, and because the earth is a sphere, the Horizon never ends. The sooner your realize that, the sooner your path to enlightenment is achieved. Kaylea has consistently strove to better herself. Only expecting the highest level of excellence. Sometimes life gets you down, but she always looks forward. She always makes it happen, and she is never defeated. 

  • Above the Clouds, Beneath the Sky, and a New Commission

    I have just recently completed a new work for Orchestra called Above the Clouds, Beneath the Sky. This was my chance to explore landscape music. This work was something entirely new for me. If you have read my previous blog post you may remember that I was traveling quite a bit the last month and a half. This was my observation of the landscape that is the space between the clouds and the sky while in an airplane. It has been an incredibly fufilling work to finish, and I hope that I can find an orchestra to play it in the near future. I will be entering it into numerous call for works, as well as hoping that community or school groups might take interest in it. I did not write an incredibly difficult work, intentionally so that it might be more accesable to a wider player base, although it is definitely beyond the skill level on high school players.

    I also thought this was an appropriate time to announce my next project. I have accepted a commission by a good friend of mine Kaylea Payne for Horn, Bassoon, and Piano. Kaylea will be giving her final recital at Arizona State University in the fall of this year, and asked if I could write something for her. I of course said yes, and will begin work on that sometime this week. I am very excited to work with her, and hope that she likes what I create for her. 

    For now, back to work!

  • 15,000 miles!

    After a six month stint living in Ann Arbor I have decided to move to Seattle. I am going to begin working on a new solo flute piece for a flutist back in Ann Arbor for an organization that I recently joined ÆPEX Contemporary Performance where I'm working as their development and engagement manager. I also plan on working on a new orchestra piece, and maybe a band piece (any band directors out there). 

    But before I head to Seattle I have a quick trip planned for Denver Colorodo where I will be meeting with my publisher Abundant Silence Publishing. We are going to chat about publishing more and there will be a concert that my string quartet will appear on. This also gives me the chance to reconnect with my good friends Parisa and Zack Reaves. Parisa is a wonderful pianist and conductor having worked with her on my opera and a few other pieces. Her husband Zack is a wonderful cellist who I hope to work with in the near future. 

    I also have trips planned to Baltimore, Phoenix, New York, and Dallas over the next month and a half. I have interviews at Manhattan school of music and at the Peabody Conservatory so I have diligently been preparing for those. I also will have music appearing on the live 45 concert series with the New Thread Quartet on March 5th while in NYC.

    my last part of the trip is appearing at the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) conference with my good friends Ryan Lemoine and Audrey Miller with my piece automobiles, planes and trains.

    overall a very exciting adventure. 15,000 miles (that's a great piece name, I'm already thinking!)