Energy City

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Energy City

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.

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New Percussion Ensemble: Beyond the Clouds

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New Percussion Ensemble: Beyond the Clouds

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.

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New Percussion Ensemble: Truth or Consequence

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New Percussion Ensemble: Truth or Consequence

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.

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Inauguration Birthday

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Inauguration Birthday

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.   

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New Percussion Ensemble: Windows of the Maloca

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New Percussion Ensemble: Windows of the Maloca

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.

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Tapspace Cover Story

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Tapspace Cover Story

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. 

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IARP Tape from SCV 1997

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IARP Tape from SCV 1997

In the late 90's, the internet wasn't yet as commonplace as it is now, so the way people shared ideas was very different.

The now-defunct International Association of Rudimental Drummers (I.A.R.P.) was a small organization founded by Dave Vose from Massachusetts. He'd send out a monthly newsletter with articles on rudimental drumming, and every so often (maybe once a quarter?) they'd include a cassette tape called The Sound Source. Cassettes in the mail were almost as cool as those floppy plastic records that would occasionally come in some issues of Modern Drummer!

I started writing the percussion book for the Santa Clara Vanguard in 1996 and was still rather young. Had it not been for JW Koester's faith in hiring me after a few years at the SCV Cadets, and a passionate, talented group of friends who joined me on the percussion staff during those late-90's, I probably never would have had the chance to hone this unique craft of writing for percussion. Those were fertile years both for the corps and for us young bucks on the staff looking to make a statement. I'm deeply grateful for that time. 

Pre-You-Tube sharing mechanism

During the 1997 season, the corps really started picking up some steam and I think that was around the time I really started finding my voice as an arranger. Dave from IARP had asked me to contribute an audio article for a 1998 edition of The Sound Source discussing my approach to arranging for SCV. What the members of IARP received was the cassette tape you see pictured here. It was an honor to contribute something to an organization whose membership had such a rich lineage of experience in this musical art form.

I'm feeling a little sentimental about those years and proud of what we did. So I recently dug into some of those old photos and scores (man...I've come a long way with my notation software chops!) and added them to the audio from the original tape. If not a more visual experience, maybe it'll add some pizazz to a young arranger trying to explain his approach.

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