Last February, I sat down with Daniel Asgari to do an informal interview for his blog, Swiss Cheese Beats (which later became Hype the Clean). I believe he eventually went on to focus on other priorities, but it was an enjoyable time and I appreciated his interest in my career in percussion and composition. The conversation was approximately an hour long, and it’s split into a 4-part series here.
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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.
During the summer of 2018, I had the honor of composing some additional music for the Polish family adventure film, Rock’n’Roll Eddie, directed by Tomasz Szafranski. The composer for this film is my friend, Fred Emory Smith, who brought me into a talented music department, including frequent Hans Zimmer orchestrator, Carl Rydlund. The score is reminiscent of thematic, orchestral adventure scores of the 1980’s and was recorded in Prague by the Filmharmonic Orchestra.
The film hits Polish cinemas in January, and may possibly have some screenings in the United States. The soundtrack is now available on all digital platforms.
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.
I recently finished work on an adaptation of Stormbreak for symphony orchestra. This piece was originally written for medium-easy percussion ensemble (with optional wind ensemble accompaniment) and it's been a popular piece in the Tapspace catalog.
This new version maintains most of the approach of the original but adds a slightly new twist to the middle section where the snare, toms, and timpani players each take a small solo. It makes use of a lot of col legno from the strings, adding to the percussive nature of the piece.
I created this mock-up recording in Logic Pro X using Virtual Drumline and various string, brass, and woodwind libraries from Cinesamples. Since the piece is primarily a stand-alone percussion ensemble and the orchestra is added to it, it can get a little thick and heavy-handed at times. A lot of music I write ends up this way. The insecure part of me struggles with this. My rational side recognizes that this is just supposed to be a fun, educational piece that hopefully keeps players and audiences engaged.
This version of Stormbreak was commissioned by Nathan Matherne from the Cibola High School Symphony in Albuquerque, NM. It will be performed at their New Mexico State Orchestra competition in April 2016.
In 2009, I composed a piece for percussion ensemble called Compound Autonomy. I recently recalled something about my naming process of the piece.
I'd practically forgotten about this (or maybe I'd hoped to erase it from my memory), but when I first wrote this piece, I had subtitled it The Eternal Domi Síbe. Here's what that's supposed to mean.
Much of the foundation of the piece is based on a repetitive pattern of the solfège syllables "Do" followed by "Me" (the minor version of "Mi"), in a pattern of 7 beats. "Síbe," roughly translates to "Seven" in German, the language spoken in Zürich, Switzerland - home of Nik Bärtch, the composer whose music inspired me to write this piece.
Whew...talk about an intellectual exercise! Reflecting on this, it seems really contrived to manufacture such a complicated, mysterious-sounding subtitle. I love Nik Bärtch and his music, but I never used solfège nor do I speak German. Get over yourself, dude!
I'm glad I didn't publish it that way. The finalized subtitle "for percussion ensemble" does the trick just fine. Hopefully the music will speak for itself without needing to allude to some sort of forced meaning.