Winking Waking Wishes Wail is a pensive and sometimes dark art song for soprano and piano. The text is by Susan Jordan, who was the composer’s late aunt. The poem’s text deals with the struggle between reason and dreams. It explores the relationship and interaction between the conscious and subconscious world. The music alternates between dreamy (and perhaps whimsical) and darker, brooding sections. This piece calls for exquisite dynamic control and subtle, expressive tempo alterations.
This song is perfect for a recital or chamber concert.Continue reading Winking Waking Wishes Wail
Dialogue for Flute and Piano portrays a dialogue between two instruments or characters. The dialogue opens with the central four-note motive of the piece. The flute and piano exchange melodic material until they play together in a more lyrical line. The piano and flute continue to develop upon the four-note motive throughout the piece until they arrive at a slower, andante section. The flute engages in a twelve-tone melody (along with its retrograde and two inversions) and the piano employs a more traditional accompaniment, alluding to how differently the flute and piano are conversing (the flute very logically and the piano more emotionally). The piece concludes with various presentations and inversions of the four-note motive.
This piece would work well in any chamber or instrumental recital.Continue reading Dialogue for Flute and Piano
Crystal is a three-movement vibraphone and piano duet (Adagio, Moderato, and Presto) centered around the suspended chord, which does not clearly define a major or a minor tonal world. Similar to Marginalia, Crystal relies on tonally ambiguous harmonies such as the second and seventh.
It begins and ends with a dissonant, bell-like vibraphone idea, referencing chord clusters often used in Balinese Gamelan.
Adagio employs a rhythmic canon between the vibraphone and the left and right hand piano parts. Parallel sevenths and cross-rhythms are the building blocks of this movement.
Moderato uses a repeating rhythmic ostinato throughout the movement, which is first introduced by the vibraphone and then taken on by the piano.
Presto opens with a folk-like melody in the vibraphone and then leads into a more lyrical, quartal melody. It uses the parallel sevenths and cross-rhythms found in the first movement. The coda basically repeats the piece’s introduction with slightly less dissonant vibraphone chords. Throughout the entire piece, it is never firmly established whether the piece is in major or minor.Continue reading Crystal
The Traveler is an art song for Tenor (or possibly Baritone) and piano that explores the mindset of a traveler or vagabond as he or she explores the world. The text, also written by Amy Gordon, describes the traveler’s eternal struggle between calling somewhere home and an intense desire to be freely roam.Continue reading The Traveler
The Midnight Whistler was inspired after a friend and I decided to take a walk late one night. While we were walking, an unseen man in a window started whistling. We paused and turned around to see who it was, but the man stopped whistling as soon as we stopped walking. He would only resume his whistling after we resumed our walking. I never learned who this whistler was, but the powerful image of a lone man singing to the night stayed with me. I decided to write a song chronicling the mindset of such a figure, and titled it “The Midnight Whistler”. This character has no friends but the night he whistles to, although he desperately watches and longs for a companion. The song has an overall ABA’ structure. The A section is largely strophic, while the B section has a slower, contrasting melodic line. To further set the mood of loneliness and longing found in the text, the aurally unsettling augmented chord, an easily invertible stack of major 3rds with no definite root, is used often throughout the accompaniment. The piece concludes with a whistled variation of the main melody found in the A section. The final chord employs an augmented chord against a g minor tonic, never giving the listener a satisfying tonal conclusion to the song.Continue reading The Midnight Whistler
A Minuet of Mozart’s sets this musical poem by Sara Teasdale. The poem is filled with musical imagery such as “the violin” drawing “wefts of sound” as they “airily […] wove and wound and glimmered gold against the gloom”. The music creates a sense of magic that dissipates “at the pausing of the bow”. The musical setting has a dance-like waltz pattern paired with darker chromatic undertones, referencing both the magic of the music and the return to “wave of night” when it stops.Continue reading A Minuet of Mozart’s
Along the Bay is a lyrical and reflective duet for soprano and piano. The poem “Along the Bay” is from a larger collection of poems entitled As Time Stops to Rest, written by the composer’s late aunt, Susan Jordan. The text describes the passage of snowflakes as they fall, join the dew, and eventually become the bay, possibly a metaphor for our lives. The references to dancing and Tinker Bell highlight the playful nature of this journey.
While Along the Bay is the third movement from a larger song cycle As Time Stops to Rest, it can also be used as a stand-alone piece in any concert or recital.Continue reading Along the Bay
A Broken Appointment sets the Thomas Hardy poem of the same title. The text describes a heart broken man who wishes his love interest would give him the gift of showing up for their romantic meeting, even if he knows she has no interest in him. The music reflects the sense of missed love through a chiming motive in the piano, referencing the ever-ticking clock marching on even through heartbreak.Continue reading A Broken Appointment