I compose music for orchestra, chorus, wind symphony, chamber ensembles, chamber voice(s), dance, stage and film. My music ranges from extremely expressive and lyrical to highly colorful, evocative, textural, fractal and spectral. I often explore concepts of time and space while highlighting transformations of timbre, texture, ornamentation and gestures on the surface and within the structure of the music. The sound world within which I work ranges from silence to the fragility of barely audible, whispering, pure, resonant and complex timbres. I do not consider these details as secondary in my work; rather, I conceptualize them as states through which sound can evolve on both local and global levels. Further, the treatment of these components--the modulation each aspect undergoes--can be paramount to the resulting form, sequence and proportional duration of musical events. As a result, form may be generated through process with domains organically evolving, spawned by the intersection of one or more permutations simultaneously occurring. Through all of this, I am always deeply concerned with shaping and creating an effective and emotive dramatic profile for each work I compose.
CONNECTION TO NATURE
The first home I remember is a log house my father personally built in the Minnesota woods, which resulted in my feeling a deep connection to nature.
I have also always related to music that is evocative of nature by impressionist composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. More recent composers that inspire me whose work also demonstrates a deep relationship to nature are Olivier Messiaen, Toru Takemitsu, Tristan Murail, Kaija Saariaho and John Luther Adams. This connection reveals itself in my own works as I often create gestural profiles that represent images such as rain, wind, snow, stars, cascades, tendrils, roots and branches. These can be most vividly found in my Natura cycle, my Waters of Time cycle, the already-composed works in my In Search of Imagery Cycle and I Carry Your Heart for SSAATTBB chorus, violoncello and piano.
INSPIRATION FROM TEXT AND POETRY
I have a passion for language and text. In addition to my various degrees in music composition and music theory, I have earned a degree in creative writing. I have composed several dozen art songs and choral works, through which I have set text in a number languages including English, Spanish, German and ancient Japanese. I also share my enthusiasm for text and vocal music with my students in a course I teach at the University of North Texas entitled The Contemporary Voice: Contemporary Vocal Music, Text Setting and Repertoire Since 1960.
INFLUENCE OF SPECTRAL MUSIC
My discovery of spectral music, especially by composers such as Gerard Grisey, Tristan Murail, Per Norgard, Jonathan Harvey, Kaija Saariaho and Claude Vivier, has greatly influenced me as a composer. The harmonic and pitch content in my work often involves the overtone series, the undertone series, and/or spectral analysis of sounds in nature and/or of timbres of instruments. I have been working on connecting pitch materials within my works and between various works my cycles via shared partials, or “pivot partials” that can provide seamless pitch transitions between different segments of music.
ON MODULARITY AND CYCLES OF EXTRACTABLE WORKS
For the past several years I have been engaged in composing a number of cycles of extractable works and modular pieces. The pieces in the cycles may be performed as stand-alone works and can also function as smaller parts of a multi-movement cyclical formal design when programmed for a single event. These include Resonant Strands for various combinations of piano, bowed piano, and string quartet and Natura--a concert-length set of eleven works ranging from solo instrument to full orchestra--which contains overlapping and modular elements. Additional cycles I have composed include The Waters of Time for soprano and chamber ensemble; Dream-Paths for female voice, electric guitar, piano/prepared piano and percussion; Between Darkness and Light for French horn, percussion and strings; In Search of Imagery (in progress) for chamber ensembles/chamber orchestra and From the Ends of the Earth (in progress) for four choirs, organ, orchestra and handbells. In my modular wind symphony, Transformative States, the pieces may be performed in succession or certain segments may be bypassed.