Thank you for visiting my website! In these pages you will find information about my career as composer and musician. I have provided sample scores and audio files of several of my compositions, each of which you are welcome to download. If you have a comment or suggestion, or if you just want to say hello, please feel free to email me. The following paragraphs will give you a sense of my music and how I approach composition.
When composing, I draw from numerous influences, both musical and non-musical. My music reveals an admiration for numerous composers such as Birtwistle with his attention to detail and often extroverted rhythms, Donatoni with his outlandish timbral combinations and angular melodies, Dutilleux and the beautiful richness of his harmonic palette, Berio with his frequent heterophonic treatment of melody, and Gompper and the sheer vitality of his music. I am also greatly indebted to and inspired by my teachers David Gompper, C. Curtis-Smith, and Ann K. Gebuhr, each of whose encouragement allowed me to discover my own personal voice amid all these influences. I am perhaps moved most by the music of J.S. Bach, the greatest of all contrapuntalists whose music so perfectly represents a synthesis of the intellectual and emotional power of music. I can only hope that the response others have to my music is an trace of the response I have to Bach's music.
My music bears perhaps even stonger parallels with abstract visual art. I respond deeply to abstract painters such as Phillip Guston, Adolph Gottlieb, Robert Motherwell, Paul Klee, and Willem de Kooning. I often attempt a kind of musical translation of the painterly techniques I perceive in their art. The looseness of such a translation between different arts assures me that I am able to retain a voice of my own, an obvious difficulty when drawing directly from the music of other composers, particularly ones held in high regard. (The title of my dissertation composition, Edges, is derived from two paintings of the same name, Edge, one by Guston, the other by Gottlieb. Both hang in the University of Iowa art museum, and I often sat in front of them during the time I was at work on my own Edges.) My manner of working is akin to Motherwell's wanting first to get the canvas dirty and then move the materials around and shape them into coherence. I too, like to get the staff paper dirty, so to speak, and constantly rework and reshape until the music achieves a rightness in its detail. With Guston, edges are not always clear and distinct; so with my music, lines are not always neat and straight--not always immediately obvious. I also liken my compositional style to the mobile, a floating object that spins on its own axis. With each turn, the observer sees the object anew, from a different perspective, appreciating different aspects of its form. So with my music, it is my hope that with each hearing, new details are heard, new relationships established, new aspects appreciated.
To me, music is about communication, or perhaps connection is a better word since music does not communicate in the same way language does. If there is no connection between composer and performer, between performer and audience, and (therefore) between composer and audience, the music fails. With good music, all three parties are deeply involved in the process and a sense of community is established. Music is to be shared. Turning to the structure of the music itself, it is only by making connections between melodic themes or motives, between harmonies, between textures, etc. that we can make sense of the music as listeners. The inability to make aural connections results in incoherence.
Music also has a strong metaphorical potential, and we can be enlightened by music through imaginative "metaphorizing." For example, the unity and diversity of the distinct lines of a fugue exposition provides an analog to a group of individuals united for a single cause. Unity in diversity in both of these contexts can be very beautiful. The chord itself reflects this idea: different tones in combination, in harmony with one another, to create a new and richer entity. I believe this metaphorical (but also visceral, not purely intellectual) element is why music is such a powerful tool in drawing people of a community together--Think of the members of a church congregation coming together to sing a hymn of worship in four parts, or of the athletes and their fans singing a national anthem as one voice at an Olympics ceremony. In my music, I hope to provide the audience with fresh opportunity for imaginative contemplation for the enrichment of both the intellectual and emotional thought–life. Music no doubt possesses a power to provide the listener with an escape from the everyday trials of life. But I also hope my music provides those involved (performers and listeners) with an uplifting and energized sense of community and of the world around them.
Music is endlessly fascinating and its mysterious power to move us deeply is undeniable. I hope
something you hear in these pages will move you.