Fantasy (2021) for Bassoon [6'30'']

This little fantasy for unaccompanied bassoon focuses on two motives, a triplet on the first beat of a measure and a syncopated suspension. The introduction presents these motives in sequence, followed by a languid falling figure. After a few brief statements, the line begins to focus on the first motive, which eventually solidifies into a sassy little mazurka. The mazurka continues for two strains, but eventually loses steam and switches to the second motive in a solemn lamentation. As the music continues, shorter staccato notes begin to fill in the gaps between the suspensions, and just as this new figure takes over, the mazurka suddenly returns, followed by a quick restatement of the opening to end the piece.

Premiered by Dennis Pearson, Bassoon at the Diastole Scholars' Center in Kansas City on March 2, 2022.

 
Isolation (2021) for E♭ Saxophone and Piano [7'00'']

We are alienated from our work, from nature, and from those around us and the result is often a sense of isolation. Isolation explores emotions that comprise this isolation: starting with a lonely solo in the saxophone, which is punctuated with echoes in the piano, then moving into a duet pervaded with an uneasy feeling of longing. This is followed by a brief surge of resentment that just barely fails to boil over into anger. The mood suddenly returns to longing before the piece ends with the opening phrase of the initial lonely solo. This time the piano fails to echo the gesture, which is instead repeated by the saxophone.

Premiered by Don-Paul Kahl, Baritone Saxophone and Xiangyu Zhao, Piano at the Diastole Scholars' Center in Kansas City on February 2, 2022.

 
Four Pieces (2019) for Unaccompanied Trumpet [4'30'']

Four Pieces for Trumpet is my first attempt at writing for an unaccompanied monophonic instrument. As the title suggests, this is a suite of four miniatures, the of which serves as a prelude from which the other three movements take one or two elements and expand on them. The second piece takes a dotted figure tied to a flutter tongue and works it into a mazurka. The third piece takes an appoggiatura figuration and the lip glissandos and works them into a meditation. The final piece takes the upwards scoop and running notes and transforms them into a moto perpetuo.

This piece has not yet been performed or recorded.

 
Gathering Terror (2021) for Piano [5'30'']

Gathering Terror is a meditation on the opaque and oppressive force that is the uncertain future. A four-chord motto punctuates a texture that grows denser and denser as the piece progresses. After a static opening section characterized by rising figures in parallel major sevenths, the motto gives way to a more active section based on minor sevenths, which is cut short by the return of the motto. The music from the opening returns, this time faster and with more notes. Repeated rising figures push the tempo forward until the texture densifies into a chromatically-saturated glacier of arrhythmic chords. Chords played with uncomfortable handshapes pervade this piece, contributing to the oppressive and pained atmosphere.

Premiered by Yintong Liu at the White Recital Hall at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on October 25, 2021.

 
Polarity (2019) for Piccolo and Piano [10'30'']

Polarity begins with an introductory toccata that begins with distant bell-like chords in the piano and a meandering, improvisatory response in the piccolo. The interplay between these two elements intensifies as the distant chords grow nearer and when they “arrive,” the piccolo plays a short cadenza. The bell-like chords are transformed into an abrupt motto that interrupts the cadenza heralds a scherzando where two unimportant motives from the introduction are given prominence and woven together. The development of this material is cut short by a strange and meandering mazurka that dips in and out of tonality. A return to the introductory material makes way for recapitulation of the scherzando and a coda that triumphantly recapitulates the mazurka before ending abruptly.

Premiered by Bre Beasley, Piccolo and Xiangyu Zhao, Piano at the White Recital Hall at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on May 5, 2021.

 
Brooding (2019) for Violoncello and Piano [6']

Brooding is an expression of the experience of obsessive introspection. The piece begins with a falling and rising motto into which the cello weaves unobtrusively into the texture. As the cello takes over, the piano sequences the motto and works itself up into a frenzy. The soloist introduces a jagged, new theme before timidly shrinking away, building up again quickly before angrily repeating the jagged theme. This time the tension remains high even as the motion stills, both parts slowly winding down with the cello sequencing through the motto and the piano alternating the motto and the jagged theme. Eventually the cello settles on the low C and the piano quietly playing dissonant chords over it.

This piece has not yet been performed or recorded.

 
Elegy 81/05 (2019) for Piano [7']

During the first years of the AIDS pandemic, the US government did virtually nothing to assuage the suffering of thousands of LGBT people, especially those of color, who were dying. Many politicians appeared to find joy in the suffering of people who they clearly considered undesirable. These politicians have since received grand state funerals attended by mourners from around the world. The bodies of many victims of AIDS were never claimed. This nocturne is for them.

Premiered by Jorge Muñiz at the Joshi Performance Hall at Indiana University South Bend on April 13, 2019.

 
Six Atmospheric Pieces (2017) for Piano [5'-20']

I’ve always found something compelling in the work of Morton Feldman, especially the early indeterminate works and his later works of extreme length. These works invite the performer to create soundscapes both alien and familiar, and challenge the listener to process these musical universes. Six Atmospheric Pieces is my first attempt at such a composition.

Much of this cycle is written in unordered, arrhythmic sets of pitches which the performer is instructed to repeat ad libitum over a constantly-depressed sustain pedal. No. 1 only uses four pitch classes, with new pitch classes are added in Nos. 2 and 3 to complete a whole tone scale. No. 4 changes the material to an incomplete octatonic scale, with No. 5 then taking away two pitch classes, and No. 6 finishing quietly with the complete octatonic scale. The effect is extremely subtle, but gives each piece its own internal unity and the cycle a sense of progression.

This cycle, like the works of Feldman that inspired it, demands as much, if not more, from the audience than it does from the performer’s technical ability: the slow, tuneless progression of the same arrhythmic pitches is an invitation for the audience to listen and contemplate. On the other hand, the indeterminate and improvisatory nature of the music requires the performer to know how they want each piece to progress and how long they want each piece to last, lest they sit down for a performance and thoughtlessly pick out the notes on the keyboard.

Premiered by Jorge Muñiz at the Joshi Performance Hall at Indiana University South Bend on April 13, 2019.

Recorded by Josiah Sprankle at the White Recital Hall at University of Missouri-Kansas City on October 8, 2019.