The Spaces Between
Relics from the Conquest
Cast Thy Nighted Colour Off
R A G E
Celestial Cobwebs is inspired by the beautiful image of accumulated dew on the spider's web illuminated by the moon. It is like webs of light sewn together in space by cosmic souls that float and sparkle around the night sky.
I wrote The Spaces Between as an exploration of textural combinations in a serene space. The piece is heavily influenced by the concept that in the hustle of our every day lives that rapidly moves from one moment to the next, we forget to take a step back and enjoy the spaces between those moments, that the journey itself is as important if not more important than the journey's beginning and end. The Spaces Between was commissioned by the Portland Percussion Group.
Relics from the Conquest is a collection of instrumental interludes drawn from my cantata Ballads of the Borderland, a large work that anthologizes a series of cultural perspectives or portraits of life set in the greater Southwest borderland region. These portraits depict childhood memories with a migrant-laborer father, a ghost story, a family tragedy, a master jeweler and metallurgist whose work finds resonance in the soul of the wearer. Through the stories, a curtain is pulled back and something deeper is disclosed. The first movement, “Of Ballads, Badlands, and Banderas,”is the robust, thunderous prelude setting the scene that depicts Hernán Cortés’s fiery march into the heart of the Aztec Empire. The second movement, “Something about the clouds…,” is a lyrical rumination on a poem by Carmen Tafolla that meditates on myths, legends, and the “infinite possibilities” and struggles that lay in the shadows of the Spanish missions, beneath the Southwestern sky. The third movement, “Twilight Echoes,” extends the moods and metaphors of poet Carmen Tafolla’s ode “Something about the clouds…”. In the reverberant echoes one ponders encounters with myths, memories, and spirits, all as they transpire beneath an idyllic sky filled with shape-shifting clouds. The final movement, “The Metallurgist’s Scherzo” is a sonic analogue for the work of master jeweler and metallurgist, Alejandro Sifuentes. Hear in the shifting meters and surface rhythms a depiction of shifting light as it refracts an array of colors from its many angles.
Cast Thy Nighted Colour Off - In Hamlet, the Queen is trying to encourage her son to get over the loss of his father, and she instructs him to “Cast Thy Nighted Colour Off,” referring to his black garments. But Hamlet responds, telling her his grief is more substantial than something a person might wear. Grief is not something one can simply throw aside. It is lived. I composed this piece as an expression of my grief. It is a visceral piece, but highly organized, where rhythmic motives are words translated from Morse Code. For example: RAGE (.-. .- --. .), and LOVE (.-.. --- …- .)
Velvet - Composed as the world was reemerging from Covid restrictions, Velvet represents part indulgence and part reboot of my creative process. The piece progresses through several rotations, or cycles, of material that continually evolve, revisiting ideas both simple and complex and casting them in new contexts. Composed both for live performance and for a film celebrating Musiqa’s twentieth anniversary season, the piece allows room for deep, rich timbres and long, lyrical melodies that I find particularly attractive.
RAGE is an expression of generational discontent. The piece borrows heavily from the rhythmic and metrical language of metal in an attempt to capture the perpetual frustration of young people with the generation(s) who have come before. Thus frustration is nothing new; in a 1789 letter (quoted in the score), Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison, “Then no man can, by natural right, oblige the lands he occupied, or the persons who succeed him in that occupation, to the payment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might, during his own life, eat up the usufruct of the lands for several generations to come… and then the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living.” Commissioned and premiered by Contemporaneous. Premiered at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York, NY (April 2019).