Works for solo performers and small ensembles

Table Manners  2020 15′  A theatrical duet, setting three dialogue-poems by Phillis Levin about relationships, connection, and expectations. These clever, droll and insightful poems let us notice universal features of being close with another human. For soprano, mezzo, hand-held percussion, live electronics and a few small props. Commissioned by the dynamic duo, Dhegrae & Digression – Lucy Dhegrae and Ariadne Greif.

Avian Moments   2015.  6′  Three pieces for flute quartet:  Piccolo, C Flute, Alto Flute and Bass Flute.   Twittering, fluttering, trilling, floating upwards, spiralling in and out of tonality, these three short pieces mimic and explore birdsong, including the multi-phonics produced by an avian syrinx. This work is dedicated to Jayn Rosenfeld, flautist extraordinaire.  Here is a Garritan demo.

Objects – Food – Rooms  2013.  7′  This work for medium voice and clarinet sets three prose poems by Gertrude Stein selected from her book “Tender Buttons”. The poems in the book are grouped into three sections, “Objects, Food, Rooms”. Although the poems take as their subject domestic items and make observations or commemorations of everyday domestic life, Stein’s language gives the reader a view through a fractured lens: looping, repeating and sometimes incomplete grammatical syntax, providing a stream of consciousness, or internal voice, meditating on the subject.  Stein’s keen, often droll observations commemorate the common objects that provide a backdrop to life at home.  This work’s title is taken from the subtitle of “Tender Buttons” – “Objects – Food – Rooms”. It includes one song from each of the three sections of Stein’s book.   Commissioned by Janet Pape, who premiered it with the clarinettist Gilles Noirez on a concert by La ballade de Linos, presented by the Lions Club Paris Quai D’Orsay in February 2014.  A new version, for mezzo-soprano, alto flute and piano with still slide projections and light staging is in preparation.

Viola Trio for viola, cello and piano.  2013.  13′   Lois Martin has been a pillar of the new music community in New York City for the last few decades, responsible for numerous new works, important premieres, and stunning performances.  In 2008, she asked me to write a piece for her, for some future recital.   I really appreciate how she thrives when she plays chamber music and so wrote a piece for piano trio. I completed the piece in 2010 and made minor revisions in 2013 and 2014.  The piece uses a freely atonal/extended tonal language, and incorporates classical/romantic era tropes and devices, in structure, phrasing and motivic material, but instead of the patient, often poised or at least methodical development typical of the classical or romantic era, in this work we thrash through the ideas quickly, often urgently, rushing through four movements in just 13 minutes.   Commissioned by Lois Martin.  Premiered May 10, 2015, Tenri Cultural Center, NYC, by Lois Martin, viola, Molly Morkoski, piano, Caroline Stinson, cello.  Available from APNM.

Soliloquy   2012.  For solo French horn.  5′. Opening with arching vocal-like lines, Soliloquy veers between folk song and speech-like phrases.   Although the French horn originated as a companion to hunting, in this solo work for the higher tessitura of the modern instrument, we hear a solo voice, seemingly in the wilderness, as it sings existential complaints to the trees – not hunting, but communicating with nature.  Commissioned by Saar Berger.  Here is a Garritan demo.  

Wherewith I Strive 1995. 12′  for mezzo-soprano, harp and flute.

  1. …wherewith I strive … an Epigram by Sir Thomas Wyatt
  2. For the Days of My Trouble. Excerpt from the Book of Job
  3. Flute Interlude
  4. A Song, by Phillis Levin.

The first and last movements are lyrical and mostly tonal and surround the longer second movement which sets a fragment of text from the Book of Job – really the focal point of the piece. The third movement is a solo flute interlude.  Although the author and audience of The Book of Job are not known, the text is a great work, treasured by Jews and Christians alike. It is an epic poem of moral outrage and anxiety that has served people well during trying times. The fragment used in this work is chapter 30 in most Christian bibles and is one of the most widely known verses. Job has gone through three rounds of discussions with his friends, and in this passage, he sums up his troubles. After his summing up the unnameable answers him.  Research of early Protestant English translations yielded a surprising variety of continuity, rhythm and imagery. This version used here is a compilation of several different translations.  Composed between 1982 and 1995. Commissioned by the Jubal Trio.  Premiered by Canyonlands Ensemble, Salt Lake City, Utah, Morris Rosenzweig, conductor.  November 2002.  Available from APNM.

Variations / Obsessions  1985.  9′   for flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin, cello.  commissioned by Parnassus Contemporary Music Ensemble.  Premiered in November 1985 by Parnassus, Anthony Korf, conductor.  Merkin Hall, NY.   Available from APNM.

String Quartet  1980.  8′  premiered at the Composers’ Conference, in Johnson, VT by the Atlantic String Quartet in July 1980.  The Atlantic gave its NYC premiere later that year and kept it in their repertoire for two years. It won the League of Composers / ISCM Annual Competition in 1981.

Belladonna Dreams  1979 12′.  for woodwind quintet and piano.  commissioned by the Borealis Ensemble Debut Recital, Artists International. Carnegie Recital Hall, NY, NY.  The Ensemble kept it in their repertoire for a year.