for 2 pianos, recorded narration,
commissioned by Double Trouble
Breathe was written for pianists Izzy O’Connell and Kathleen Supové, which incorporates pre-recorded sound design and spoken narration. The concept of this piece comes from my interest of the condition known as Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disorder commonly affecting the lungs, and other organs of the body. A good friend of mine was born with this condition, and her stories have shaped my view of my own fragile health and mortality. Born in South Africa, at the time of this commission Alice Vogt was surviving her first double lung transplant since her operation in 2008 (she then went on to receive her second double lung transplant in October of 2017). For myself that has a very serious case of asthma, I’m aware that my own health is a small comparison to the struggles of someone who has CF, as I am constantly mindful of what they experience on a daily basis when I take my asthma inhaler every morning. There are strong arguments in the medical community that Frédéric Chopin may have very well suffered and died from our modern diagnosis known as Cystic Fibrosis. Due to this research and revelation, the piece is constructed in many forms, as it incorporate elements of music quotation from Chopin’s various works (Nocturne Op. 9 No.1 in Bb Minor, Prelude No. 15 in Db Major, and Prelude Op. 28 No. 4 in E Minor) juxtaposed with sounds of breathing and circulation, with splices of narration from an interview of my friend talking about this disease. I was intrigued of Alice’s transition into her new lungs, and how she felt the first time her new organs felt completely fresh and new, which therefore lead me to also incorporate chord progressions from Pink Floyd’s Breathe (In the Air). The use of two pianos in this work is a multi-sided canvas of both experiences, the prognosis of this condition, and the new freedom that is given to successful lung transplant receivers. Although not all surgical procedures of lung transplants are successful, the gift of a new life from this medical perspective intrigues me on a profound spiritual level…
The interview with Alice for the spoken narration component of this work was conducted at her home in Johannesburg, South Africa on 18 January, 2017. In addition, I would sincerely like to thank Oli Lewington, Engagement Director from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust in the UK for his assistance and guidance on this project.
Breathe was made possible by a grant from the American Composers Forum with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation, and was premiered at the Yamaha Piano Salon in New York City on 26 January, 2017.
for flute/alto flute, violoncello,
digital delay processing pedal
commissioned by the Marsyas Trio
Commissioned by the Marsyas Trio in 2015, Lucid Dreaming calls for flute/alto flute, violoncello, and a digital delay processing pedal. The concept of “lucid dreaming” has fascinated me for years. Is it possible to dream and be aware of what you are dreaming, whilst also exerting some control of the narrative? This has happened to me on many occasions. Some of these dreams have been terrifying, yet I would wake up with astonishment, curiosity, and reflection, as the “echoes” of the dream state environment would resonate in my mind upon waking. The use of the delay pedals was my attempt to depict the “echoes” combined with the 2 states of consciousness from these experiences. Moreover, my own musical interpretation of “lucid dreaming” seeks to create an imaginary wonderland, full of euphoria, nostalgia, unlimited discovery into the unknown, and thematic homages from various Salvador Dali paintings. After years of being left on a dusty shelf from 2015, some of my own magical dreams comes to life in this recording. I also dedicate this work to the late Jennifer Oda, who had always lived her own dreams to the fullest, before she departed from this earthly realm…
Lucid Dreaming was recorded by Marsyas Trio‘s Valerie Welbanks and Helen Vidovich at LSO St. Luke’s in June of 2017, as part of my 2 year residency with the London Symphony Orchestra’s Soundhub Composer Scheme.
The video installation of this work was premiered at the 2019 Oh My Ears Festival in Phoenix, Arizona on 2 February, 2019.
for 2 guitars
Written for Dither Guitarist James Moore and Threefifty Duo’s Geremy Schulick
Flow is my first composition written for the acoustic guitar. Though I have experience writing for the guitar from a few film scoring assignments that I composed in Boston and Los Angeles, this is my first time exploring the instrument on a concert performance level. Although a technically demanding and versatile instrument, I wanted to give Flow the simplicity and sheer beauty that the guitar is well known for. The title of the piece can account for a detailed program note, though I can admit that all of my experiences listening to music, both conscious and sub-conscious, enabled Flow to come to its completion.
This piece was scheduled for its premiere at the DETOUR debut concert series at the Roulette in New York City, with a solo performance by Dither Quartet Guitarist James Moore. However, after careful observations and suggestions by the artist, we both agreed that a duet of Flow would enable the composition to convey the mood and serenity if played by two guitarists, due to the timbre and challenging textures that would have made a solo performance less resonant.
Flow was premiered by James Moore and Geremy Schulick at the First Presbyterian Church Concert Series in Brooklyn Heights on July 30, 2009. It had its European premiere at the 2010 highSCORE Music Festival in Pavia, Italy.