Seeds of Hope

for Soprano, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano

This piece was a collaboration with soprano, Rebecca Roose.  We had worked together previously on some of my other pieces and so when she approached me about writing something specifically for her I was more than happy to oblige.  The text for this piece is a combination of excerpts from a poem Rebecca wrote and Psalm 121.  We both wanted to create a piece that spoke to all the tragedy around us in the world, but rather than create something tragic we wanted a piece that was about finding hope and light out of darkness.

The Masque of the Red Death

A Concert Drama

for Soprano, Clarinet, Violin, and Piano

In my first concert drama I chose to set Edgar Allan Poe's, The Masque of the Red Death, in its entirety.  I felt that despite the density of the text that it would lend itself well to a dramatico-musical treatment.  This work is subtitled "a concert drama" because I felt it needed clarification that in spite of being a purely concert work that it contains a complete narrative structure.  From that standpoint it is neither opera nor oratorio but rather something altogether different.  The soprano is truly the focal point of this piece while the trio of instruments primarily serve as the narrative fabric helping to create and heighten the emotional tone of the text.  A large cluster chord across all instruments recurs throughout the piece in order to signify the "chiming of the clock".  Once the Red Death wreaks havoc on the guests of Prince Prospero's party I chose to set the remaining text as a simple lullaby sung by the narrator.  The soprano does not represent any particular character in the story but rather an outside party simply passing on a tale against the hubris of man.

 

A Child's Garden of Verses

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for Voice and Piano

In searching for a text for my first set of art songs I found myself gravitating towards poetry that evoked a feeling of nostalgia.  After reading the first few poems of Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses" I knew that this was what I needed to set.  Each of the first eight poems is set as a distinct song that evokes the idea of an adult looking back on childhood memories with a mixture of fondness and longing.

 

Lacrimosa

for Soprano and Piano

I wrote this setting of the traditional lacrimosa text for my good friend Mary Claire Curran.  I wanted to write something that would take advantage of her lush and smooth voice.  Traditionally many lacrimosas are dark and in a minor key for the entirety of the piece.  I decided that there is another way to interpret this text and so at the words "Pie Jesu Domine" the music reaches a turning point towards light and hope.  Ultimately death is a natural part of the cycle of life and I think it is appropriate  to write a piece that celebrates life rather than mourning death.

 

For Jessica

for Soprano, French Horn, and Piano

In the spring of 2015 I had the pleasure of meeting a phenomenal french horn player named Jessica Pinkham.  After performing on a different work of mine she approached me and asked if I would be interested in writing a piece specifically for her.  A while later Jessica came to me with two poems she had previously written, "The Volcanologist" and "Biome".  Although written as individual works I saw vague but I felt interesting narrative structure across the poems and so I agreed to set them.  In "The Volcanologist" I attempt to capture the text very literally about a volcanic eruption and humanity's inability to fully comprehend the complexity of this amazing planet we inhabit. "Biome" explores a more psychological side of human nature.  While not explicit in its setting, I took the grey and ashy imagery to represent the aftermath of the volcano.  But in this aftermath the inhabitants of the city are not physically damaged.  Instead they have check out mentally, becoming grey like ash.  The piano is incessant throughout this movement in order to portray the ever present weight of reality.  Meanwhile the soprano and horn engage in a constant call and response, frequently overlapping, but never quite fully connecting.

This work is dedicated to Jessica Pinkham, who has been a fast friend and supporter from the moment we met.