chamber works

For Brass Quintet

listen score

PURCHASE CD with Bala Brass

• Duration: 8’ 30" (2 movements)
• Instrumentation: 2 Tpt., Hn., Tbn., Tba.
• Commissioned by Angelo State University Brass; Axiom Brass; Brass Arts Quintet of Tennessee Tech University; Jon Burgess; The Carillon Brass; Vince DiMartino; Jason Dovel; Brian Evans; Kansas Brass Quintet; John Laverty; Gary Malvern; Raquel Rodriguez; Charles Saenz; Eric Swisher; Michael Tunnell; University of South Carolina Faculty Brass Quintet; Valor Brass; Western Brass Quintet
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

For Then and For Now explores and ultimately integrates two very different kinds of musical material- the dark, melancholic, and nostalgic first movement (“for then”) and the more in-your-face and rhythmically driven second movement (“for now”). The first movement should have a free-flowing and rubato feel and should be played very expressively. In contrast, the second movement requires that the players be locked into a tight groove so that the syncopations and asymmetric rhythms seem funky yet coherent.

For Then and Now is dedicated to my good friend and colleague Vince DiMartino,
who spearheaded the consortium commission of this piece. Vince retires in 2012 after 40 years of dedicated and inspirational teaching. Vince is a beloved teacher at
Centre College. His extraordinary level of musicianship has been an inspiration to
generations of students, but his generosity and care for his students and
colleagues has been even more extraordinary. Vince has always been one of the biggest fans of my music, and he has offered me immense help and priceless advice over the years. I am deeply thankful for all of his support and friendship. The title of this piece has a double meaning as well; to thank Vince for all he’s done for me in
the past (for then) and for all he has done for me with this new commission (for now).

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For Chamber Ensemble

• Duration: 12’ (2 movements)
• Instrumentation: fl. (doub alto), cl., vln., vc., perc., pno.
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

1. Slowly; freely; 2. Slowly, without dragging

What Winter Dreamt is somewhat of an essay in the melancholic, the bleak, and the nostalgic. After a call from the chimes, part 1 moves rather freely, introducing the flowing melodies that characterize the piece as a whole. After heading toward a climax, the movement settles into a tone of bleakness as the piano slowly plays the descending four notes of a minor chord. This motive forms the basis for part 2, the heart of the piece. In this movement, the piano’s slowly arpeggiating chords in 4/4 time provide a steady background. The other instruments present and comment on a central melodic line that is mostly in 3/4 time, providing a polymetric counterpoint to the piano background, while the cello plays a sustaining bass line and countermelody. The central melody has several well-defined motives that return and vary, traversing the length of the movement. As these different strands grow in intensity, the movement comes to a climax when the glockenspiel enters with the four-note motive. The glockenspiel begins a dialogue with the piano to create a funkier groove as the melody rushes to a climax, offering a slight ray of hope to the otherwise bleak atmosphere. In the denouement, the music thins out and returns to the bleakness of the piano’s four-note motive.

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For Trumpet and Piano
For Vince DiMartino

• Duration: 10’ (1 movement)
• Instrumentation: tpt., pno.
• Premiere: Vince DiMartino, trumpet; Larry Bitensky, piano, 3/4/07
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

"From those beginning notes of yearning” is a one-movement work for trumpet and piano written for my friend and colleague Vince DiMartino. Vince is a world-class performer equally comfortable in both classical and jazz, and it was a pleasure for me to write a piece that would showcase his unique talents. The title of the piece, from Walt Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” captures the feeling of the opening section and is suggestive of the musical and emotional landscape that is further explored.

The form of the piece is a variation of the chaconne principle, in which repeating and evolving progression of harmonies and modes provides the backdrop for a wealth of musical gestures. The rhythm of the opening section also provides a sort of rhy thmic groove, over which are projected arcs of overlapping polyrhythmic and polymetric layers.

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FANFARE (2005)
For 6 Trumpets and Timpani

• Duration: 3’ (1 movement)
• Instrumentation: 6 tpt., timp.
• Commissioned by Centre College for the dedication of the College Centre
• Premiere: The CentreTrumpets, L. Bitensky – conductor, 10/14/05
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

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Concertino for trumpet and chamber ensemble

• Duration: 12’ (1 movement)
• Instrumentation: solo tpt. + fl., cl., vln., vc., perc., pno.
• Premiere: Brian Buerkle, trumpet: the Duquesne University Contemporary Music Ensemble -- David Stock, conductor, 4/18/03
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

The Other Side, a one-movement concertino for trumpet and chamber ensemble, is a work that I would describe klezmer meets Bugs Bunny. After a brief introduction, the piano introduces material for the refrain, a layered dance macabre in which each instrument gradually joins the texture. The soloist interrupts the group at the height of their intensity and begins an episode characterized by free, quasi-improvisational, and rhythmically free and independent music. The piece alternates between the funkier and macabre dance and the freer episodes.

The Other Side was written for David stock and the Duquesne University Contemporary Music Ensemble

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Arrangement of Awake, you Sleepers! Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble
For Trumpet and Piano

• Duration: 17’ (3 movements)
• Instrumentation: tpt., pno.
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

1. Tekiah 2. Shevarim 3. Teruah

The ancient instrument known as the shofar, or ram's horn, has a special place in the Jewish tradition. Legend recounts that its sound was heard at the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, the tumbling walls of Jericho, as a call for battle, and that its sound will be heard to herald a messianic era. The instrument has survived through post-Biblical and contemporary times and features prominently in the liturgy of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The blowing of the shofar in the Rosh Hashanah service is a call for repentance, symbolically awakening the sleeper from a moral and spiritual slumber.

Each of the three movements of Awake, You Sleepers! is based on one of the three calls associated with the blowing of the shofar. Tekiah is a long note rising in pitch; shevarim is three shorter notes; and teruah is a long repeated staccato blast. Each movement is also preceded by well-known verses from the Rosh Hashanah liturgy. Much of the music for Awake, You Sleepers! is based on Rosh Hashanah motives and melodies that occur in the German/East-European musical tradition.

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Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Chamber Orchestra (or Chamber Winds)

• Duration: 9’ (1 movement)
• Instrumentation: 2 (1 doub picc.), 1, Eng. Hn., 2 (1 doub Eb), 2 / 2, 2, 1 / timp./ hp. / str.
• Premiere: Sudip Bose, violin, Stephanie Vial, cello, the Festival Chamber Orchestra- Mark Scatterday, conductor, 4/8/95
• Recognition: Winner of 1996 ASCAP Foundation Young Composers Competition
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

During the writing of To Touch the Sky, I was interested in exploring ways to generate musical form from long-breathed phrases of melody. Lightly scored for solo violin and cello and a chamber ensemble of winds, percussion, and double bass, To Touch the Sky basically falls into three sections. A free, arching melodic line presented by the solo cello dominates the first section. This is answered by a similar melody in the solo violin. Finally, the two come together in a more rhythmic song to close the piece. The ensemble provides support and countermelodies throughout. This approach seemed to provide an alternative to the more “confrontational” approach to concerted works in which soloists are pitted “against” each other and the larger ensemble.

To Touch the Sky was written for my friends Sudip Bose and Stephanie Vial.

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ONE FOR TWO (1993)
For 2 Pianos

• Duration: 12’ (1 movement)
• Instrumentation: 2 pno.
• Premiere: Tom Beghin, Andrew Willis, 11/14/93
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

One for Two is a student work that I have kept in my catalog since it was an early attempt to explore different ways of combining evolving cycles of rhythm and harmony with more narrative, goal-oriented processes - a preoccupation of mine in later works as well. As the name implies, this is a one movement piece. It falls roughly into three sections: a highly rhythmic opening section that thins out to an extended slower moving and dreamier middle section, leading to a return to the rhythmic energy of the opening.

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For Chamber Ensemble

• Duration: 11’ (2 movements)
• Instrumentation: fl., cl., vln., vla, vc., pno
• Premiere: the Cornell Contemporary Chamber Players, 3/11/92
• Publisher: Silly Black Dog Music (ASCAP)

Although a student work, I have chosen to keep Then the Letting Go in my catalog along with several other student works because it seems to possess elements of my musical voice that emerged more fully in my mature works. The piece was written during the tragic and prolonged illness and death of a very close friend. Although I did not consciously attempt to write this piece in response to this, in retrospect it is clear that the turbulent emotions that I was going through very much informed the feel of this piece, and I believe that is speaks to the horrors, shock, anger, sadness, and resignation associated with the experience of loss.