Companions II (2012 – 2015)
Piano solo. 12’
I. Winter Winds
II. Two Crows in Tree Watching Sea Smoke
III. Stopping By the Piano on a Sunny Morning
IV. Yes, Really
These pieces, conceived in quite different “styles,” were composed while I was living in Lubec, Maine. I performed them for the first time as part of a solo recital I presented in April, 2015 at University of Maine in Presque Isle.
Audio Coming Soon
In Autumn (2013)
Violin, piano. 12’
II. Arabesque in Blue
An improvisatory recitative is followed by a plaintive arabesque and a final movement inspired by several of my piano students, featuring a continual interplay between brusque and lyrical gestures… a play? child’s play, just play? The work’s first performance was in March, 2016, with Alice St. Clair (violin) and myself (piano).
Three Preludes (2011)
I. Song of the Air
II. Such blue sky! Such blue waters
III. Quoddy Jig
In Song of the Air the basic musical idea, a quick sixteenth note pattern, came to me as I was having dinner alone. The title came later. It’s pretty descriptive, so your imagination can take it from there.
Nature can be heartbreakingly beautiful; that is often the case where I live. Envision the intensity of a clear fall day, with the waters of the bay reflecting and deepening the unclouded blue of the sky. The musical utterances of this movement are inspired by the Japanese style of composition for the shakuhachi (bamboo flute).
Traditional music is quite popular in eastern Maine, where I live, so it seemed natural for me to compose a pretty straightforward jig. The word “quoddy” is adapted from the Native American Micmac word meaning “fertile or beautiful place,” and most aptly describes the region.
Variations on Amazing Grace (1998)
In this set of variations the iconic hymn tune (actually New Britain) is presented very simply at first, but soon you will recognize that we have broken free of the melody. A journey is taking place – from the tune itself through the musical ideas it has evoked for me. You may hear flights of ecstasy, the ringing of bells, a playful dance, a Chopin-like etude, floating clouds, and a passionate argument. The final variation is a peaceful return to the original tune. The first performance was given by Rorianne Schrade in 2001.
“… a powerful and moving work. Starting with the hymn in it’s simplest form, it takes the listener through a wide range of styles and sonorities: from gospel textures and bell-like clusters, to the Chopinesque, yet retaining all the while an organic cohesion…. it gently bridges readily accessible musical language with new tonal landscapes. ”
– Rorianne Schrade
A reflective work for organ that works well as a service prelude. First performance in 1993, given by me at First Congregational Church, Worthington, Massachusetts.
Horn, piano. 18’
I. From “The Sanctuary of Dreams”
II. Dance of the Spirits
IV. …worlds passing.
This work was composed for Martin Hackleman, who gave its first performance with myself at the piano in 1989 at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Companions (1984 rev. 2017)
I. Aardvark Dream
II. Procession of Days
III. Totentanz: To Man’s Inhumanity
IV. A Pleasant Fugue
The first performance was given by me in 1984 at Spirit Square, Charlotte, North Carolina.
This one-movement work evokes the ancient world of Knossos, Crete, and the myth of the Minotaur in the Labyrinth. The first performance was given by me at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
“Of the newest music given, Newell’s piece Knossos was distinguished by very strong rhythms and a quite haunting mood; its characterization both of place and idea was impressive.” – Spectator (Raleigh, NC)
Aardvark Processions (1980)
II. Aardvark Dreams
Composed for Susan Allen and given its first performance at Clemens Kalischer Gallery in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Perusal Score and Audio Coming Soon
Percussion solo (timbales, almglocken, small gong). 10’
This one movement work was composed for John Boudler. He gave the first performance at Baird Music Hall, SUNY at Buffalo, New York.
The first performance of this somewhat minimalist one-movement work was given by me at Baird Hall, SUNY at Buffalo, New York.
Perusal Score and Audio Coming Soon