Mapping Out a Sky (2022) 12'00"
Mapping Out a Sky explores the intimate, silky textures multiple clarinets can create when playing interlocking figures together. In the first half of the piece, large, stacked harmonies create an expansive, accordion-like sound that stretches and breathes as if a living creature. Each clarinet builds on the other, until a tapestry of sound is unfurled. As the piece transitions into the second half, a lighter, impressionistic melody emerges and gives way to a swirl of sonic play, each clarinet climbing over the other. Inspired by small musical moments in Stephen Sondheim’s “Finishing the Hat”, Mapping Out a Sky creates a world of its own.
Premiered on March 23, 2022 at the SF Conservatory of Music, San Francisco, CA by Jeff Anderle and the SFCM Clarinet Ensemble.
A Certain Slant of Light (2018) 5'30"
When I first began sketching this piece for Miolina, I wanted to utilize the unique unison sound of two violins to create a piercing texture, and to journey from dark and tumultuous gestures to lush and serene harmonies. As the compositional process came to a close, I turned to poetry for title inspiration as I so often do. I found Emily Dickinson’s poem, “There’s a certain Slant of light, (320)” and thought the thematic journey of the poem echoed the journey of the piece.
“There’s a certain Slant of light, (320)” by Emily Dickinson
There’s a certain Slant of light, None may teach it - Any -
Winter Afternoons - ’Tis the seal Despair -
That Oppresses, like the Heft An imperial affliction
of Cathedral Tunes - Sent us of the Air -
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us - When it comes, the Landscape listens -
We can find no scar, Shadows - hold their breath -
But internal difference - When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
Where the Meanings, are - On the look of Death -
Premiered on March 24, 2018 at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, CA by Miolina Duo: Lynn Bechtold & Mioi Takeda, violins.
Suite for Two Flutes (2017) 15'00"
Suite for Two Flutes, written for Siroko Duo in collaboration with Helia Music Collective, is an intense personal study loosely inspired by the late David Bowie. Each movement reflects small moments found in Bowie’s final album, Black Star. The first movement, Feeling Very Still, creates a slow and murky world that explores shifting intervallic relationships between the two flutes, spiraling out of control for just a moment. The second movement, Branches to the Sky, heavily features the alto flute to give more depth to the tender melodic lines weaving in and out of the two flutes. In the final movement, Sun Machine, each flute chases the other with playful sixteenth-note figures as a simple melodic idea moves through various harmonic colors in a bright, whirlwind of a ride.
Premiered on March 25, 2017 by Siroko Duo: Jessie Nucho (flute/alto flute) and Victoria Hauk (flute) in collaboration with Helia Music Collective.
Into the Wild (arr. 2016) 7'00"
Originally for solo guitar but arranged for flute and guitar, Into the Wild is inspired by the story of Christopher McCandless as told by Jon Krakauer. Disenchanted with society after graduating from Emory University, Chris abandoned his car and traveled mostly by foot across America. His ultimate desire was to venture to Alaska - “into the wild”. In April 1992, Chris was last seen alive near Fairbanks, Alaska at the head of the Stampede Trail. Months later, Chris’s emaciated body was found in an abandoned bus used by hunters.
Chris carried books by his favorite authors and in one, he wrote “Happiness only real when shared”. Chris’s journey was meant to escape societal conventions and relationships. But in the end, his understanding of happiness transformed to sharing experiences with others to be truly meaningful. Into the Wild is in three sections: “Leaving - The Beginning”, “Searching - The Journey”, and “Understanding - The End”.
Premiered on March 6, 2016 by Jessie Nucho (flute/alto flute) and Patrick Connor Smith (guitar) at the 7th Annual Hot Air Music Festival.
Three Sisters (2016) 14'00"
When I began thinking of a piece for Areon Flutes, I immediately starting contemplating other things that come in threes. My mind wandered back to when I was a child visiting my grandparents in central Oregon. From my grandparents’ living room window, I remember gazing out over the small town of Bend, and in the distance lay three beautiful mountains often crested with snow. These mountains are called the Three Sisters. North Sister, also known as "Faith", is the oldest and most eroded of the three and is an extinct volcano. Middle Sister, or "Hope", is the smallest and is an inactive volcano. South Sister, also called "Charity", is the youngest and the tallest and is still an active volcano, last erupting about 2,000 years ago.
Three Sisters is divided into three movements performed without pause. This piece is written in memory of my grandparents, who are buried in Sisters, the closest town to the Three Sisters.
Premiered on April 15, 2016 by Areon Flutes: Jill Heinke (flute), Sasha Launer (piccolo/flute), Meerenai Shim (bass flute/flute) in collaboration with the Guerrilla Composers Guild.
Study for a Foggy Day (2015) 6'00"
Study for a Foggy Day was written in 2015 for the Fog City Guitar Duo and Jessie Nucho. It explores extended 7th chords, each player building on the other to create rich and shimmering harmonies. The first half of the piece is a loosely structured improvisation, using two poems read out loud - "Gray Fog" by Sara Teasdale and "Pearl Fog" by Carl Sandburg - to shape the duration and mood of the improv. The performers and the reader should interact as you would in a typical improv, listening to one another and reacting to each other. Cells with small motifs derived from the second half of the piece are given to offer continuity from one section to the other. Both the improv and the composed music should create a murky, foggy landscape.
Premiered on November 21, 2015 by Fog City Guitar Duo: Patrick Connor Smith (6-string guitar), Keith Barnhart (10-string guitar), and Jessie Nucho (alto flute).
Darker Than Blue (2014) 10'00"
Darker Than Blue is about creating texture and atmosphere. From the beginning, the main concept was to create a piece that traveled from light to dark through a series of chord progressions. The texture allows each instrument to weave in and out of each other with swelling dynamics and small motifs traveling throughout the ensemble. As the piece developed, I realized that the harmonic language was jazzy, triggered by the piano about half way through. After scouring the internet and miscellaneous poems, I stumbled across the line, “darker than blue”, and thought it a very fitting title for the piece. Darker Than Blue was written for the 2014 Fresh Inc Music Festival and the Fifth House Ensemble.
Premiered on June 21, 2014 by Rianna Cohen (flute), Becca Dora (Oboe), Kinsey Fournier (clarinet), Valerie Whitney (horn), Eric Heidbreder (bassoon). Revised version premiered (and video recorded) on November 10, 2014 by Jessie Nucho (flute), John Spears (oboe), Diane Lee (clarinet), Melia B. (horn), Justin Cummings (bassoon), Eric Tran (piano).
Duo for Vibraphone and Guitar (2013) 15'30"
Duo for Vibraphone and Guitar began in 2012 as a commission from guitarist Steve Brew and was completed in 2013 as I transitioned to study in San Francisco. This was the first time I explored twelve tone technique in one of my compositions. The goal of using twelve tone in this piece was not to follow relentless and unbreakable rules, but rather to use the principles associated with twelve tone as a way of generating musical material. In particular, I relied on leap-frogging, the technique of skipping every other note in a tone row, and rotational array, the process of creating a row and rotating it by placing the first pitch at the end of the row. I do not believe it is necessary for the listener to be consciously listening for this: it was simply the compositional process used to create the final aural experience.
Movements One and Two premiered by Steve Brew (guitar) and Emma Logan (vibraphone) on April 12, 2013. Movements Three through Five premiered (and video recorded) by Kevin Robinson (guitar) and Emma Logan (vibraphone) on September 3, 2015.
Rho Upon Row (2013) 6'30"
Scattered (2012) 6'30"
Written for the annual Shanghai-San Francisco Composition Competition
for string trio.
Written for horn and trombone. Premiered on April 28, 2012 by Cody W. Forrest (horn) and Rachel Quam (trombone).
String Quartet No. 1 (2011) 6'00"
Premiered on April 28, 2012 by Will Anderson (marimba) and Nolan Miller (piano).
Premiered on April 28, 2012 by Michale Stuckey and Edgar Tumanjyan (violins), Sam Peters (viola), and Moriah Dohner (cello).