I recently completed a new quintet for percussion titled “Altered Gates.” It was commissioned by the L.V. Berkner High School Percussion Ensemble (Mike Garcia, director) for their showcase concert at the 2018 Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Indianapolis.
About a year ago, I embarked on a mission to build a music studio in my backyard. This would be a space where I could be completely isolated from other distractions, to get absorbed in the creative process, primarily to write music, to play/practice, or to simply 'be' without being overheard or interrupted by other responsibilities or stimuli.
Aside from the benefits of having a space dedicated solely to creativity, this project gave me another satisfying experience—conceiving and making something from scratch, while learning the skills to see it through to completion.
For starters, I knew I wanted a space where I could take my primary "writing rig" (which has lived in my office at Tapspace HQ for over 10 years) and bring it home, allowing me some geographical separation of my own composition projects and the work I do for Tapspace. As Tapspace has grown, finding undistracted times to compose at the office became increasingly difficult. Also, since Sara moved in with me 3 years ago, it's been less feasible to actually have various instruments strewn about the house and as a result, I found myself less compelled to practice or simply play my drums for the sheer pleasure of playing. My backyard studio would be a place where I could center and dedicate these important parts of my life, while conceiving of it, literally, from the ground up.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science, one of the most heavily attended museums in the United States, just re-opened their popular Weiss Energy Hall, currently the most contemporary, comprehensive and technologically advanced exhibition on the science and technology of energy anywhere in the world.
This hall features "Energy City," a 2,500-square-foot 3-D landscape representing Houston, the surrounding Gulf coastal waters, and the terrain of southeast and central Texas. This vibrant "white model" uses bleeding-edge projection mapping technology to bring the city to life while educating viewers on different energy systems and stories.
As I put the finishing touches on my percussion ensemble, Windows of the Maloca, I've done a screen capture of the score playback. All sounds are being generated from the Virtual Drumline sample library, and the score is engraved in Sibelius notation software.
This piece is written for an advanced ensemble of 14 players and lasts roughly 5.5 minutes. The score will be available via Tapspace in the next few days.
I've been working on a new piece for percussion orchestra to be premiered by the Vandegrift High School percussion ensemble (Austin, Texas) this December at the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic in Chicago (Joe Hobbs, director). It's titled "Beyond the Clouds" and was inspired by the time I spent in Nepal with a group of friends in 2013. There's still a lot of cleanup to do in the score before it's road-worthy, but here's a peek inside the score as played back via Sibelius + Virtual Drumline.
What a surreal time we're living in. My latest percussion ensemble commission was being composed during the most bizarre election cycle possible. It's left me feeling disheartened about how our collective culture chooses to make its decisions, many of which seem impetuous and based on opinion rather than thoughtfully considered facts. I worry about the consequence that may result from a culture of misinformation, selfishness, and vindictiveness.
I don't prefer to be outwardly political, but it's tough to hide from it these days. This piece wasn't meant to be a political statement, however it was being written during a time of pronounced unrest, so the title Truth or Consequence seemed about as fitting a tribute to this time as I could surmise.
Here's an early mock-up of the piece, which you can read more about here.
For better or worse, my birthday coincides with inauguration day in the United States. I don’t post much in the way of personal opinion online, and I imagine with the political happenings this will mostly get buried in the noise. But since it’s my birthday, I’m going to ask for something.
I recently finished work on a new piece for percussion ensemble titled Windows of the Maloca. It was commissioned by Brandon Kunka, director of the Roswell HS percussion ensemble to be premiered at their performance at the GMEA conference in Athens, Georgia in January 2017.
The piece is a tribute to the time I spent in the Amazon jungle in Peru last year which left a lasting mark on my life. While there, I made a recording of some of the atmospheric jungle sounds and wildlife. Listening to it immediately transports me back to that beautiful place.
I wrote this piece amid a very full workload at Tapspace, scoring another short film, and trying to have some sort of balanced regular life. Needless to say, it's been a busy Fall! To read a little more about the piece and hear an early draft VDL mockup recording, go here.
Tapspace, the publishing company I started nearly 20 years ago (Really...almost 20 years? Damn, time flies!) just released a fun little animation on how Murray and I got our start and slowly learned the ropes to get us to where we are today, where we just announced a new design upgrade to our concert covers.
The video was animated by our friend and fellow Portlander, Jesse Mattson, and the voiceover stylings were performed by Tapspace shipping manager and former SCV drum major, Alexander Bernstein. And special thanks to my long-time buddy, Bob Beck (Design.Society) for doing the design on our new covers. He also did our award-winning logo/branding update back in 2005 along with all the packaging design for Virtual Drumline.