Compositions

Sheet Music

Orchestral

2021

2020

2019

Fantasy, orchestra, 10’  

 

Program notes:

 

Indebted to Copland, Barber, and Gershwin, this symphonic movement is a nod to classic American concert and film music. The fantastical flourishes, bright brass, and jaunty syncopated tunes all but hide the darker undercurrent of the piece. Rather than ending with a bang, I chose to conclude quietly with wistful ninth chords which appeared earlier in the piece, as if some question has been left unanswered.

Concertina for Violin and Strings (arrangement of the Allegro Molto from Sonata for violin and piano), solo violin and chamber orchestra, 4’

  • Commissioned by the Santa Rosa Young People’s Chamber Orchestra as part of the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Ensembles’ First Opus Project.

  • 2021, May 15 (premiere): Santa Rosa Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, Aedan Seaver, soloist, Aaron Westman, director.

Program notes:

 

The central idea for this piece came to me one morning in April of 2020, about a month into the COVID-19 pandemic. I was still very much shaken by that turn of events, and when I heard this bright, optimistic melody in my head it seemed to come from another world entirely. I wrote it down originally for viola and piano as part of the opening movement of a sonata. I was playing cello in the Santa Rosa Young People’s Chamber Orchestra at the time. I shared the work-in-progress along with a few other compositions of mine with their director, Aaron Westman. He had a particular fondness for the incomplete sonata movement and suggested I arrange it for the ensemble and their concertmaster, Aedan Seaver, as the featured soloist. In a few weeks I arranged what I had already written and wrote the rest of the movement. I found the orchestration to be the most challenging task. It turned out to be a lot less simple than a note-to-note translation. I had to change the viola part to a violin part, and determine when I wanted it to soar and when to sing more subtly in the low register.

At the start of the Young People’s Chamber Orchestra season that Fall, the piece, now named Concertina for Violin and Strings, became my first work to be played by anyone other than myself and also the first to receive a public performance. I had chills at the first reading, realizing that the MIDI mockups I had been listening to for months could never replace human expressiveness. Not long after, I was informed that the piece would be used to debut a new violin by Santa Rosa-based luthier Andrew Carruthers called "The Redwood Violin." This labor-of-love project was made entirely from materials sourced in Sonoma County, a unique endeavor and special feat as making an instrument traditionally requires global sourcing.

 

The Young People’s Chamber Orchestra’s performance was recorded over three sessions in April 2021. Our live audience consisted of no one but the crew, Andrew Carruthers, and a few parents, but I felt as gratified as if we were playing for a hundred people. On May 15th, the recordings received a public premiere on Zoom.

Overture for A Christmas Carol, large orchestra, 8’

 

I wrote this piece in late November and early December, 2019, at the end of a challenging and somewhat bleak Autumn when my family needed to move out of our home for remediation for an extended time during a very active wildfire season. I composed a lot of music during this period as a distraction, consolation, and pastime. With Christmas approaching, we missed home especially. I replayed warm, fuzzy memories of past years over in my mind of well-dressed trees, cheesy potatoes, visits from friends, and watching my favorite movies and reading my favorite stories. One that kept coming back was Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. That story inspired my concert overture.

 

This was the first piece I wrote with the compositional software Dorico, as well as my first work for full orchestra. I don’t know that I would have attempted it when I did if I hadn’t felt like such a kid in a candy store as I learned the software. I was amazed by its capabilities and the instrument samples, especially the woodwinds, so I wrote substantial parts for them. The true star of the piece, though, is a solo violin, meant to represent the spirits of the past, present, and future. The moods of each are painted in different keys, and the robust, bright C major ending is a celebration of the holiday season.

Concertino for Cello, Flute, and Strings, solo cello, solo flute, and chamber orchestra, 4’

I struggled with music composition when I was first starting out. I wrote short and intimate songs for myself to sing and play on the guitar, but when it came to writing in a Classical style, it was a mystery to me what made it coherent and compelling. I began the journey of uncovering that mystery (sometimes consciously, sometimes not) the year I got into my first youth orchestra — 2018-2019. This piece, written over the Summer of 2019, marks the point where I no longer let self-doubt prevent me from trying to compose, and where my knowledge of the orchestra and musical form began to click. 

 

During that magical handful of months, I was playing the chamber music of Mozart and Haydn as part of my orchestra’s Summer program, making many new friends, and getting more deeply in touch with my own instrument, so it isn't surprising that my first opus was a lively little 18th Century-style chamber piece featuring a solo cello. A solo flute also plays a prominent part in the music, warmly introducing the piece and weaving around the cello part after its entry. This Concertino may suit a student cellist who can play up to eighth position.

Chamber

2021

2020

2019

String Quartet No. 2  (In progress)

 

I. Vivace, 8’ 2021

II. Andante Grazioso

Memories Unfolded, flute, clarinet, and cello, 6’

Part of what got me through 2020 was following the musical slices-of-life my friends would post on social media, and my mother and I sharing ours in turn. Three in particular, who play as a trio, inspired this wistful ode to connection in any way possible, which is sprinkled with references to things we shared. 

 

“Memories Unfolded” is in three short movements bound together by a four-note theme. For each movement, I took one of the friends’ names and translated the letters into notes with a special code. At a relaxed tempo but with moderate chromaticism, this piece may sound best with more experienced woodwind players. 

Piano Trio No. 1, (unfinished), violin, cello, and piano, 19’ 

Poem, oboe, clarinet in A, and piano, 5’

String Quartet No. 1, 14’

Solo/Duo

2021

2020

The Nightingale and the Owl, flute and piano, 7'

Near the end of 2021, I was commissioned by the Santa Rosa Young People’s Chamber Orchestra for a string arrangement of Amy Beach’s piano piece, “A Hermit Thrush at Eve”. After finishing that project, I decided to try my hand at writing a piece incorporating bird calls, too. I also wanted to evoke a nighttime scene and chose a nightingale and an owl. Although I’d never seen or heard a nightingale in real life, it seemed like an interesting choice and many artists have a fascination with it. 

 

While Beach claimed to have transcribed the song of a real Hermit Thrush note for note, I went for a looser imitation of my birds. The nightingale is suggested by the flute’s flutter tongue (and the octaves in the piano about halfway through). I jumped to the flute’s low register to suggest the hoot of an owl.

Sunset on the Hills, oboe and piano (In progress)

A piece showcasing the range and color of the oboe, inspired by the view from my window of the sunlit California highlands. The work centers around a single theme that undergoes gradually more complex harmonizations, until quietly simplifying again at the end, like the sky turning more and more colors during sunset before going dark.

Sonata for Violin and Piano (In progress)

I. Allegro Molto — 4’, 2020

II. Interlude — 1' & Andante — 5', 2021

III. Allegretto Scherzando — 5’, 2021

IV. Allegro 

 

The main material for the first movement of this piece came to me out of nowhere one morning in April of 2020. Its bright and optimistic character could not have been more different from my emotional state at the time, and the state of the world a month after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wrote it down in a couple of hours for viola and piano (I later changed the viola to a violin). 

 

I had just discovered Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano at the time, which may have influenced how I treated the piano in my own sonata — not as mere accompaniment but as an equal, carrying the more dense and difficult part. I could also clearly hear 18th-century Classical influences in my piece.

 

Later that Spring, the director of a youth ensemble I played in called the Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, Aaron Westman, expressed interest in programming one of my compositions into their 2020-21 season. He had an affinity for my incomplete sonata movement and suggested I arrange it for solo violin and the rest of the ensemble. I worked on this arrangement between Summer and Fall, and it forced me to come up with an ending for the movement. One of my favorite parts to write was the cadenza, which I kept when I completed the original duet. 

 

In the Sonata for Violin and Piano, the first movement is immediately followed by an interlude that wilts chromatically down to the key of the second movement, a heartfelt Andante. The third movement echoes the first with its glittering piano arpeggios.

One Winter’s Day, viola and cello/B flat clarinet and cello, 6’

Program notes:  A friend of mine asked if I would write a duet for the two of us while I was in the midst of a creative dry spell. While this piece is quite short, it took self-confidence to write and taught me a lot, as I had very little experience writing for two voices. The original instrumentation was viola and cello, and I later adapted the viola part for clarinet, as well.

Nocturne 2020, violin and piano, 5’

One of my last pre-pandemic pieces, this Romantic-style Nocturne was relaxing to work on the nights after rehearsals or concerts (and sometimes before!)

Keyboard

2022

2019

Walking in Circles, piano, 6'
 

An icy journey, relying more on rhythmic drive than lyricism, Walking in Circles first came into existence in August of 2021, originally written with video in mind after I was introduced to Kevin Anderson, one of the organizers of Daily Acts, an environmentalist nonprofit in Sonoma County, California.

 

Kevin was looking for youth-created music to accompany his film showcasing sustainable community designs by high school students. While I was able to provide him with a work of mine that had already been recorded, I began writing a minimalism-influenced piano loop as a backup. That Winter I rediscovered the loop and developed it into a full-length piece. The name is inspired by its ABCDCBA form, which can be thought of as a musical round trip.

January Mood, piano, 3'

 

Written over 5 days for a composition challenge to write my first piece of the new year, this piano piece is about that particular flavor of blues we feel after the holiday season is over and our nostalgia for the festivities.

 

Written over 5 days for a composition challenge to write my first piece of the new year, this piano piece is about that particular flavor of blues we feel after the holiday season is over and our nostalgia for the festivities.

Allegro for Solo Piano, piano, 7’

The piano is not my primary instrument, and I find it an extra challenge to write for outside of an accompaniment role. This short and lighthearted piece, which sounds like pealing bells — or maybe bubbling water — was a study in the piano’s solo appeal.