Livewire! Opus 7
Winter of Our Discontent
Livewire! Opus 7 is a short, energetic showpiece for flute, clarinet, and horn, which I composed over the summer of 2010 while spending time in Vienna, Austria, and Aix-en-Provence, France. The initial idea of the piece was inspired by “electrical issues” (i.e., shorting out or otherwise destroying electrical devices due to both faulty voltage converters and my own ignorance) experienced while overseas, beginning with my excursion to London earlier in the year. This sparked inspiration for a piece depicting the fickle nature of electricity through a variety of different means, most obviously through effects and extended techniques and also through form (many jagged phrases and full stops—"short-fuses," if you will). After the beginning fanfare, each instrument has a characteristic solo based on a different scale. This is followed by disjointed melodic motives constantly interrupted by crude "zaps" from the horn, culminating in a variation on earlier thematic material presented as a duo between flute and clarinet over a nervous bass line. After building to a sort of climax, the energy is dispersed through a tutti fortissimo outburst, leading to a slower middle section filled with nervous intensity; a phrase is never finished without some form of “surge” from the horn or murmur from the flute or clarinet. Of course, the original material comes back, but this time truncated and with the flute and clarinet having swapped roles. Sparks fly as an electric flourish of running notes carries the piece to an explosive finale.
Winter of Our Discontent - The approaching winter of 2020 suggested hope - hope for the end of a pandemic that had diminished opportunity and ended lives; hope for the end of a societal rage that bordered on civil war. What it brought was a long winter with extreme storms, both literal and figurative. Much like in Shakespeare's Richard III, a winter that should have been full of light was full of darkness and foreboding. A winter that promised hope only delivered an icy coldness, an interminable stasis punctuated by fits of rage and panic.
Evergreen was written as a dedication to the beauty of the flora of the Pacific Northwest. It aims to capture the meditative and rejuvenating quality of looking at evergreen trees, and smelling earth and leaves.
Four Pieces might be hailed as an ‘ordinary’ work but I feel that I have changed from it. First of all, it freed me from the perfectionism (or an inferiority complex), but most importantly, it helped me to realize that I do not compose musical works, but rather, I am like a secretary who transcribes notes on manuscript paper. It took more than ten years until I suddenly realized this, but I believe that I arrived along the fastest route. Frankly, this work went a totally different direction than where I first planned. Maybe because of my strong will and high standards, I was getting stressed out and hesitating more than normal. I sighed many times and this piece is my journey employing those sighs as a compass. Let me introduce the keywords for each piece: Sigh, Fever, Groove, and Song. I thought that I was just following along with the music, going where the composition took me, but now I realize that each piece is my self-portrait.
lullaby, for is an experimental improvisation environment requiring a natural water source, a hydrophone, a small speaker, and trash from the water source. The performer creates a noise-based feedback loop between the hydrophone and speaker mediated by the water and—if the performer so chooses—whatever polluting trash they add. The aim is to concretize the interference of humans (and our trash) on the natural environment, through a sonic context that historically is considered similarly unclean.
Swimming Paradise was composed for soprano and string quartet in 2011, on poems from Silvia Cassioli's "La piscina" (The swimming-pool), and transcribed in 2022 for soprano, violin, viola, cello and double bass. Five short movements representing (approximately): 1. denial (chill, incredulity); 2. anger (fear, tension, with a development of the Beethoven's "Grosse Füge" theme); 3. depression (slowness, despair); 4. an unexpected 'scherzo' (fun, dance, rhythmic obsession, based on Freddy Mercury's "We are the Champions"); 5. acceptance (ethereal atmosphere and, finally, a quasi-jazz joke-like). The swimming-pool metaphor of "Swimming Paradise" is an effort to find a way of working through the death, from a very corporeal feeling of death, towards a sublimation into a kind of Paradise.