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Anima Mechanicae – LIVE!

For the first time ever, Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine was performed LIVE in its entirety in front of an audience at the first annual Chamber Music Festival at the University of Redlands, hosted by ASTA!

I am so blessed to be a part of the new “Hill Street Quartet“, featuring violinist Irene Shiao, violist Rachel Fabulich, and cellist Anne Sherrill. We worked so hard on this piece – I was extremely privileged to have a group of really talented ladies willing to devote so much effort and time into it – and we were all just so excited to be able to make a fantastic presentation of it this past Saturday!

Now, for your enjoyment, for those of you who had to miss this performance, here’s the video from Saturday’s performance of Anima Mechanicae! This is as close to the “Director’s Cut” of this piece as it’s gotten so far… 😀


Just have to give a BIG shout-out to Anne (cello) and – very especially – Irene (second violin) for the AWESOME and challenging pizzicato work around the 6:00 mark! I love that the combination of the two distinct rhythmic groupings really came across! Woohoo! 🙂

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Two Live Debuts!

Come hear the LIVE debuts of two of my compositions!

Coming up this Sunday, January 16th at 3pm:

The Claremont Community School of Music will be holding its Scholarship Benefit Recital at Claremont United Methodist Church. The fantastic soprano Christina Linton and I have been asked to perform at this concert, and we will be debuting my newest work, for soprano and violin, “The Old Beggar-Woman”. This is the second work in my currently-evolving song cycle based on the Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (the first song of which is “Fair Katrinelje and Pif-Paf-Poltrie“).

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Then, on Saturday, February 5, at 4:30pm:

At the University of Redlands, I’ll be participating in the 1st Annual Chamber Music Festival, sponsored by ASTA! Eleven chamber groups, from youth to adult, are slated to perform great chamber literature. I have the huge privilege of performing in a string quartet with Irene Shiao (violin), Rachel Fabulich (viola), and Anne Sherrill (cello), and we’ll be debuting – for the first time LIVE – my string quartet, “Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine“!

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The Blog has Moved Again

After five years, I have finally given in and decided to move both this blog and my own to the root directory. That’s right, no more /blog/ and no more basic redirect in the root. Five years ago, we planned on having some well-developed sites that included the blog along the side, so we placed the blogs in the /blog/ directory and a simple redirect in the root there for the time being. What actually happened is that over those five years we wound up developing our blogs into the sites that we wanted in the first place, so I felt that it was time to give them the placement that they deserved.

Fortunately, modern redirects have evolved in such a way that you don’t need to do anything, unless you really want to change your bookmarks or resubscribe to the feed. Everything should be redirecting to the proper place. Unfortunately, not all subscription services will be able to redirect to the new feed, but I’m hoping that they will at least make some sort of notice regarding the problem so that you can re-subscribe to the new feed URL.

I’ll be posting a writeup of the whole move process in a few days, so If you notice anything wrong, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

For your convenience, please feel free to use the large buttons below to re-subscribe to the feed and/or re-bookmark the blog.

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Introducing Clan DRAGONAS

Wow! I know, I know… it’s been FOREVER since I’ve posted on this poor blog!! Can I blame Facebook?? And life… 🙂

Well, this is worth posting EVERYWHERE! I am soooo proud to be a regular member of the new and fantastic Clan Dragonas – a Celtic-Folk Rock band… Actually, a family of like-minded, highly professional musicians and composers who have nothing to prove to anyone, and only love, mutual respect, and joy in their hearts – making it definitely one of the BEST groups (if not the best group) in which I have ever had the honor of being asked to participate!

I know – mighty strong words. I can prove it to you.

Come hear us play!

Visit us on Facebook!!

Who We Are….

Our Statement…

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My Latest Work!

Recall this post from way back in January of 2008?! My golly, I’ve been working on this project for so long, but it is so worth it! Yes, I am talking about the glorious completion of my Masters Thesis composition: Leviathan of the Ancient Deep! It’s been a long and stressful road (it’s difficult to twist and/or defend your original ideas when creating a work for academia and the expectations inherent within such a structure…), but I’ve learned so much, and now, I have a work of which I am extremely proud!

It is approximately 25 minutes long, and three movements:

  • I. Seekers of the Legend There go the ships: [there] is that Leviathan, [whom] thou hast made to play therein.
  • II. Sighting Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook?… None is so fierce that dare stir him up… Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear… He is a king over all the children of pride.
  • III. The Hunt In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan…that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea.

You can read the program notes here!

And I did manage to record this with some of my friends, though I admit, all did not go as I had hoped, but went very well within the circumstances handed to us. I was so consumed with finishing the orchestra’s parts – right up until the first day of our meeting together, and in fact I had begun to wonder if there would really be a third movement at all! – that I had had NO time at all to practice my own solo part, which, I’ve discovered, is very difficult, albeit extremely FUN to play!! I wished I had had three months to hash it out and come up with reliable fingerings. But, no, I sight-read it! Not bad anyway, not great either… 🙂

The poor orchestra as well only had a week to throw this together. We met once to read through it and returned a week later to record. But you know what, these musicians are fabulous people, because they were all willing to do this entirely for free – either because they like me, or because they were just so curious about the strange instrumentation of electronic and acoustic instruments in a “classical” concerto. Or maybe both, one can hope.

So, it was quite an experience! I received so many wonderful compliments from those who’ve heard and played it! (One fellow even mentioned something to the effect of “work of this caliber is not often revealed the first time around, as it is here”… Wow!) However, because of our time and financial restraints (I didn’t want to abuse their gracious generosity!), this whole endeavor has only left me wanting more. Wanting to hear this work in reality the way I’ve heard it in my head. I’ve gotten a taste of it (all that was necessary for the faculty to get the idea behind my writing it), but I can’t wait for the opportunity to come along for it to be taken on by a “real” group, with many rehearsals, and me listening from the outside to make objective observations about it… And to have it displayed in a fine and carefully thought-out performance so that more can experience it!


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V.T.C.M.A. 12

Yeah, yeah, I bet EVERYBODY’s blogged this one… But I just gotta get on that bandwagon, too! 🙂

Of course, I’m talking about John WilliamsAir and Simple Gifts composed for and performed at Obama’s inaguration yesterday. The musicians? The venerable  Anthony McGill  on clarinet, Itzhak Perlman on violin, Yo-Yo Ma on cello (who was also asked by the inauguration committee to organize the performance), and Gabriela Montero on piano.

It’s a beautiful piece, no doubt – the instrumentation reminding me (and lots of others) of Messiaen‘s Quatuor pour la fin du temps, of course, and then my mind instantly turning to Copland‘s Appalachian Spring with the entrance of Simple Gifts in the clarinet. Which, it turns out, was done intentionally; and here I thought I was being clever. 🙂 


Williams quotes that passage almost verbatim, and goes on to put the hymn tune through a very Coplandesque treatment before bringing the mood back down to earth with the opening material.

Although Williams chose to use the Copland material because President Obama counts that composer among his classical favorites, there’s another significant point here. In 1953, a pre-inaugural concert by the National Symphony Orchestra at Constitution Hall, a concert attended by then president-elect Eisenhower, was to have included a performance of one of Copland’s most popular works, A Lincoln Portrait. But a Republican congressman (from Illinois, by the way) objected, suggesting that Copland was too liberal and maybe even Communist-friendly, so the piece was pulled from the concert. Inserting the touch of Copland into the Obama inauguration, Williams told Variety last week, offers “a completed circle of events that is nice to think about.” 

Tim Smith (Baltimore Sun)

Without further ado, here is the video, and, if that’s not enough, you may download the mp3 file here!

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Join the First Online Orchestra!

Join the world’s first collaborative online orchestra.

We invite musicians from around the world to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Your video entries will be combined into the first ever collaborative virtual performance, and the world will select the best of you to perform at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in April 2009.

…Professionals and amateur musicians of all ages, locations and instruments are welcome to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra by submitting a video performance of a new piece written for the occasion by the renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). We have tools to help you learn the music, rehearse with the conductor, and upload your part for the collaborative video.

And how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice and upload. Send us your talent video performance from a list of recommended pieces. Finalists will be chosen by a judging panel and YouTube users to travel to New York in April 2009, to participate in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra summit, and play at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

The deadline for all video submissions is January 28, 2009.”

YouTube Symphony Orchestra

Violinists! Check out, too, the LSO Violin Masterclass created as an aid in preparing for this experience!

All instruments are welcome to play in the YouTube Symphony – there is even a “conversion chart” available for more traditionally uncommon instruments such as Sitar and Duduk!

I’ve already downloaded my part. How about you? See you online and at Carnegie Hall!! 🙂

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My Latest Work

I know… it’s been a while… But I have an excuse – because I’m getting married next week!!!!!!! Woo-hoo! 🙂

But I did want to put this up officially while I was thinking about it…

My latest completed work, Fair Katrinelje and Pif-Paf-Poltrie, is meant to be a jaunty comedic work, based on a lesser-known tale from the famous Brothers’ Grimm. Growing up reading these fairy tales, this very brief and repetitive dialogue always caught my fancy. The “story” focuses on our hero, Pif-Paf-Poltrie, who is out to seek the hand of his beloved, the Fair Katrinelje, in marriage. Being the gentleman that he is, he approaches in turn each member of his beloved’s family to ask their permission. Father Hollenthe, Mother Malcho, Brother High-and-Mighty, and Sister Käsetraut all respond in turn similarly – essentially, “If it’s all right with everyone else, it’s all right with me.”

I’ve always loved the cyclical nature of the text, how each family member’s response to our hero’s request is always the same as the one before it and maintains a certain rhythmical persistence throughout – you can almost hear the speaker becoming more weary and desperate with each stanza! [Take a look at the full text here.] Needless to say, when approached with the assignment of writing a vocal work for soprano, piano, flute, and cello, this long-beloved text came to mind!

My musical inspiration was stimulated largely by the compositional genius of Stravinsky; firstly as a result of my preparation of the violin part of his L’Histoire du Soldat for an upcoming performance at the time, and secondly, through my charmed admiration of a little setting of his for soprano and piano of The Owl and The Pussycat. Thus there is a quirky charm about the music in my Fair Katrinelje piece that brings out the off-kilter humor of the Grimms’ tale, and it really sets the mood of the whole work nicely!

Needless to say, this piece is very different from my usual style, but for that, and for the childhood memories it evokes for me, this is a little gem that I enjoy very much.


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Special V.T.C.M.A.

Finally, now on YouTube, you can view Steve Zelt’s film, The Visit, in its entirety, with original music composed and performed by me and my good friend Danielle Cummins!


And, through my relationship with both Danielle and Steve, I met talented singer/songwriter Larry Enriquez and had the pleasure of improvising and recording violin parts for a good number of his original tunes. Well, later, we were able to make music videos of each of these tunes, so here is the first of those music videos (more to come later!). What a great experience!


“Embrace the Day”