Chamber Ensemble

Chamber Ensemble

Fantasy (2016)

Viola, violoncello, piano. 12’

I. Rough Start
II. Interlude
III. An Ending, Perhaps

Fantasy was composed for my good friends Ina Litera (viola) and Matthew Goeke (‘cello). Its first performance, with me at the piano, took place in June of that year on the opening faculty concert of the SummerKeys program in Lubec, Maine.

Song of Compassion (2003, rev. 2016)

Two violas, digital keyboard, percussion. 15’

This one-movement work was inspired by the traditions of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who is the embodiment of the compassion of all the buddhas. His mantra, one of the best known in the Buddhist tradition, is Om Mani Padme Hum, often called the “mantra of compassion.” The work includes two versions of the mantra that I had composed a few years earlier (see my Devotional Chants & Mantras)

…and nothing remains the same. (2012)

Flute, viola, violoncello. 7’

This short work is an essay on change and the ephemeral nature of our world. The fundamental truth that change is constant, is one that poets and thinkers have wrestled with for centuries. Think: even the small details and rituals of life are never quite the same from day to day. And each brief moment, each passing day, is but a prelude to the next. Composed for the Eight Strings & a Whistle: Suzanne Gilchrest (flute), Ina Litera (vla), and Matthew Goeke (‘cello). The trio first performed the work in 2013 at Machias Bay Chamber Concerts, Machias, Maine.

A Day’s Journey (2008)

Two violins, viola, violoncello. 28’

I. Thoughts at dawn…
II. through heat and grit…
III. become a canticle…
IV. seeking in faith the light.

This work is a series of reflections on one day’s journey, or one life’s journey. (Life does indeed seem to be a long and winding road. It also at times seems to be but a day.)

The titles of the four movements can almost be read as one sentence: “Thoughts at dawn… through heat and grit… become a canticle… seeking in faith the light.”

Especially in the springtime I often awake with thoughts filling my head – ideas, desires, fears, plans – seemingly unconnected and not cohering into a logical argument. Through the tensions and conflicts of our days, our thoughts and emotions can become refined and perhaps transformed into a song (thus the very consonant and melodic third movement). The final movement attempts to express the overriding aspiration of the journey.

Sequoia Quintet (2006)

Flute (picc.), oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon. 16’

I. Toybox Symphony
II. From Away
III. I was a serious young man.

I composed the quintet for the faculty wind ensemble of the Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop, held at Humbolt State University in Arcata, California. It received its first performance there in June 2006.

The first movement involves two ideas: I greatly enjoyed playing with Legos with my son. It was so much fun taking apart what we had just built and starting over, re-using and re-arranging the blocks to build another version of, say, the castle, or something entirely different. And of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, the fourth is one of my favorites. Why not take apart the first movement and use some of the pieces in the “toybox” to build something else?

You may have heard the old Maine expression, “he’s from away.” The meaning is obvious and perhaps most of us have found ourselves in places or situations where we have felt this way. And then there is the question: “where am I really from?”

What if I had been tempted as a young man to compose in a “jazz” style? This movement may have been the result. It is based on a sequence of jazz-inspired chords, and features episodes of syncopated angular melodies and solo riffs.

Sky Music (2004)

Flute, clarinet, harp. 28’

I. River of Clouds
II. The Winds
III. Starry Night
IV. December full Moon Rising
V. Song of the Mountains and the Sky

Sky Music was composed for my friend Armand Ambrosini, a wonderful clarinet player. He chose the ensemble, and the first performance took place in Oklahoma City, performed by Armand, Valerie Watts (flute), Gaye LeBlanc (harp). It is obvious that I love the sky.

Lavender Axes (1981)

Flute/piccolo, alto flute, oboe/English horn, trombone,
percussion solo (glockenspiel, marimba, timpani), piano. 13’

Commissioned and first performed by the Bowery Ensemble (New York City), directed by Nils Vigeland.

Rondos (1977)

Eb clarinet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion solo. 9’

First performance at Baird Hall, SUNY at Buffalo. Contact me for further information.

Heterophony (1978)

Alto voices, violin, viola, English horn. 12’

First performance at Baird Hall, SUNY at Buffalo. Contact me for further information.

“A peculiar, haunting timbre… The odds are you’ve never heard this sound before.”

– Buffalo Evening News

Text (1973)

Soprano, violin, flute, clarinet, guitar, percussion solo. 10’

First performance at California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California. Contact me for further information.

Image, Song, Vision (1972)

Flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello. 12’

First performance at California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California. Contact me for further information.

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