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The Empty City Stratagem

-for Chinese Folk Singer (or tenor) and large orchestra

-Commissioned by the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra & the Shanghai Conservatory of Music-

Composer’s Note:

Without an army to protect his city, Zhuge Liang used his wit to avoid a disastrous military conflict. Legend says that as Sima Lee’s forces loomed upon the town of Xicheng, Liang calmly played his Guzheng to create an illusion of military confidence, convincing Lee’s forces that they were being ambushed. This piece expands themoment in which Lee analyzes Liang’s zither playing, trying to discern whether this display is one of weakness or of strength. My piece is divided between the experiences of these opponents, dissecting the dichotomy between Lee’s perception of the music, and the music’s true status as a disguise of Liang’s solitude.

Lying between the worlds of ancient Peking Opera and contemporary classical music,“The Empty City Stratagem” exists in a state of artistic flux. While adapting the piece’s contemporary classical aesthetic, I strive to create a dialogue between two seemingly disparate artistic and cultural mediums. Although my composition is considerably influenced by Peking Opera, reworking the genre was not my intention. For those who have grown up in China, Peking Opera is second nature; as a German-American composer, this piece was my first opportunity to connect with Peking Opera and its unique expressive qualities.

 

Sich Überflüssig vorzukommen

-violoncello solo

-written for Jonathan Dormand-

 


„sich überflüssig vorzukommen“ is an aggressive piece for solo violoncello that confronts the feeling of emotional superfluity in the company of others. This piece is intended as the climax of a nonexistent gesamtwerk. Beginning with an energy borderlining absurdity, it is as if the musician is thrown into an unknown environment, unprepared and furious.

“überflüssig” was originally conceptualized as a fanfare for solo violoncello while evoking the fierce energy of a large orchestra with heavy brass. The entirety of this majestic instrument is harnessed, drawing out its orchestral command. The aesthetic of this piece combines the virtuosic glory of a cadenza and the unbridled brutality of the Nordic-metal band Meshuggah.

I am because you are, we are because they were

-for orchestra

-Commissioned by the Hamburg Hochschule für Musik und Theater& the Hamburg Sinfoniker-

-Premiered April 13, 2017 under the baton of Maestro Ulrich Windführ

Programheft

“i am because you are, we are because they were”  Mein Werk, mit dem Titel “i am because you are, we are because they were” ist ein Stück das durch Spiritualität und Heilige Musik inspiriert ist. Es ist ein Arbeit das meine eigenen Meditationen über Geistigkeit durch Musik aufzeichnet. Geteilt in drei ungebrochene Sätze und ungefähr Zwölf Minuten lang, wirkt es eine spirituelles Gefühl dass für Frieden und Mitgefühl mit unsere neuen Nachbaren ruft.

2017 wird ein hochentspannendes Jahr: Fremdenhass und Xenophobie werden langsam normalisiert, und Künstlern müssen ihre Positionen benutzen um Menschen zusammen zu bringen. Für mich formt Kunst ein Gemeinschaft, und ich gebe Mühe diese Arbeit als eine Meditation das Leute durch klang zum Mitgefühl und nachdenken bringt. Ich glaube völlig, dass Musik uns in ein Kollektivbewusstsein vereinigen kann.

Wenn wir ein Konzert besuchen, schließen wir normalerweise unserer Welt heraus und hören Musik isoliert an. Es ist ein schönes Phänomen. Ich dränge Sie aber, während meine Musik spielt, an den überwiegende Kurzsichtigkeit und Egoismus in unsere Gesellschaft zu denken, und es mit Liebe und Solidarität bekämpfen.

Die Badende

-Commissioned by Mark Dutcher and David Ross for an art salon celebrating Kirchner’s Bathers at Moritzburg

-for alto saxophone, bass clarinet, harp and string trio

Die Badende (E.L. Kirchner)When contemplating Kirchner’s “Badende Moritzburg”, I see an oasis of peace, a source of respite from the world’s self-destruction. Conceived at the brink of the near apocalyptic First World War, this painting shows Kirchner’s efforts to encapsulate the feeling of serenity he and his peers found in nature.

The compositional process for my piece was highly intertwined with my continuing exploration of Kirchner’s painting. “Die Badende” is not merely a musical iteration of Kirchner’s work, but rather my own interaction with the emotions therein. The individuals in the painting live peacefully with one another, having shed not only their clothes but also the values of the bourgeoisie. They live in humanity’s eternal sanctuary: nature. As the painting itself captures a single moment, so too does this piece; as a musical still life, the harmonic and rhythmic palettes of the piece are constrained to convey a serene absence of motion.

when all is ruin once again

-solo piano. circa 14 minutes

-written for Vladislav Boguinia, 2012-13 [Premier: Brendan White]

 

dsc00631

cred. galwayphotographssite.com

Every time I encounter this poem, forever inscribed on Thoor Ballylee, the deteriorating vacation home of William Yeats, my entire being is moved by the constancy of change. The progression of Life is a cycle of creation and ruin: Growth is naturally accompanied by the demolition of the past. And yet, a memory remains.

 This piece has been conceived and torn down countless times. With every attempt I have made to channel this feeling, I have unknowingly created it. The memory of the remnants of these efforts linger. Inspired loosely by sonata form, this piece is organized in musical reminiscences: the initial theme falls to ruin and is rebuilt again and again, each time a new iteration of that eternal inscription.

 From the first moment I heard Vladislav Boguinia immerse himself in a piano, I knew that we had to collaborate. His inflammatory personality, his attention to detail, his interpretive genius inspired this composition for solo piano. My failed attempts at capturing this poem and Slava’s spirit have inadvertently led me to this quintessential combination of constancy and change: everywhere there is a memory.

“When all is ruin once again” has received honors as being a “Finalist” for both the ASCAP and BMI composition competitions.