Mater Natura pro nobis orat (“Mother Nature is praying for us”)
written for ICE (Ryan Muncy, saxophone, Josh Rubin, clarinet, Ross Karre, percussion)
premiered/livestreamed during Connecticut Summerfest 2020
This piece uses the imagery of Mother Nature personified, inspired by the character of Aughra from The Dark Crystal. At the beginning of the lockdown, I started thinking about humanity’s relationship to the environment. I pictured a concerned Mother Nature praying for us to be saved from this pandemic, but also to learn from our mistakes and the many ways we have hurt the planet through our greed. I used the saxophone and clarinet to evoke a forest full of animals with high-pitched chirps. I used a Renaissance-style chorale as a motif throughout the piece, though it is first hear in full on the vibraphone, and this represents an otherworldly, mystical element. The piece also has a furious, ritualistic “earth dance”, and the chorale motif echoes in the crotales at the very end almost as if the prayer is ringing out.
2. Mileva's Lament (2020-21) 6'
for voice and piano, text by Hannah McDermott
premiered/livestreamed at Juilliard May 2021
This piece was written during Juilliard’s OperaLab, a class for librettists, singers, directors and composers taught by Cori Ellison. The piece is based on Mileva Maric, a Serbian physicist and Albert Einstein’s first wife. Maric and Einstein worked together on Einstein’s theory of relativity. but he took all of the credit, leaving her to raise his sons in poverty. He also left her to marry his cousin. This piece shows Mileva’s anger, but instead of a raging fire it’s a sharp bitterness bubbling just underneath the surface. The piece is divided into an A and a B section, with a short reprise of the A section at the very end. The A section shows Mileva’s bitterness, reflected in jazzy chords and biting syncopations in the piano. The B section shows her longing for the love and connection that once was, reflected in nostalgic harmonies and flowing lines in the piano.
recorded virtually July - October 2021
This composition is written for flexible instrumentation, but I had in mind my own six piece band, The Filibuster Saloon. We are an unusual combo of violin, bassoon, marimba (or xylophone), piano, bass, and drums. My idea with this band is to carry on the torch of Frank Zappa and everyone since who has been experimenting with adding elements of avant-garde composition to the rock band. In particular, I am heavily inspired the RIO (Rock in Opposition) movement which started with Henry Cow in the '70s, and the band Cardiacs. Joining me on this track are the wiz-kids known as the Coniguliaro brothers, who are influenced by many of the same bands as me and have already made quite an impression on the underground scene with projects like WYXZ, Sun Colored Chair, Wippy Bonstack, and Eyeless Owl.
4. "Steam-Powered Symphony #1" (2021) 4'30"
written for General MIDI sounds
written in April 2021, premiered during SoSI 2021: https://youtu.be/5DKhetfQfOI?t=3359
I was writing an opera scene at the time, and to take a break from it I wrote this trashpost. The idea comes from people like Conlon Nancarrow, Frank Zappa (with his albums Jazz from Hell and Civilization Phaze III) and Aphex Twin (with his album druqks) who wrote music specifically for computerized instruments with no intentions of humans being able to play it. It is also a throwback to my childhood, when I repeatedly watched the Animusic and Animusic 2 DVDs which featured compositions for imaginary, computer-controlled instruments. This track has a classic prog feel with the time signatures and chord progressions that I use, which makes sense as those influences crop up throughout all my music.