Song Without Words (for solo clarinet and wind ensemble) (2018)

3/3/3/3; 2alto sax/1 ten sax/1 bar sax; 4/3/3/1 euph/2; timp; 4 perc; hp, pno, cb


Song Without Words (originally Movement 2 from Sonata for Viola and Piano) is a plaintive, lyrical song which builds to a dramatic conclusion.

Torn Canvases (2009)

fl, cl, bass cl, sop sax, alto sax, hn, trpt, trbn, tba, vib, chimes, pno


Torn Canvases is inspired by the abstract expressionist painting style of Jackson Pollock. The piece imagines a video camera panning across a large canvas made up of layers of fragmented paint drippings and splotches. The ensemble is divided into three groups on stage, each representing musical "layers" of chiming chords and fragmented jazz riffs, which are piled on one another, creating rhythmically charged collages of sound. The climax of the work comes when the entire ensemble plays together, evoking the sound of a giant bell, transforming into the sound of a driving jazz ensemble.

Commissioned by the following schools of the Big East Band Directors Association:
DePaul University
Georgetown University
Marquette University
Providence University
Rutgers University
St. Johns University
Seton Hall University
Syracuse University
University of Cincinnati
University of Connecticut
University of Louisville
University of Notre Dame
University of Pittsburgh
University of South Florida
Villanova University
West Virginia University


University of Louisville Wind Ensemble

Frederick Speck conductor

Margaret Comstock Concert Hall

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY


Sept. 27, 2009

Taking Sides (2008)

1. Dysfunction

2. Reflection

3. Consensus

solo trombone, woodwind octet, percussion, piano, contrabass


This work uses the format of a political debate as its foundation. In the frenzied, cartoonish first movement, the solo trombonist plays the role of moderator, trying to ask a musical question. The woodwind octet, divided into two complementary quartets, plays dueling variations of the question, ignoring, and eventually mocking, the trombonist. In the jazz-influenced second movement, the ensemble reflects on a lyrical theme from the first movement, leading to the reconciliation of the third movement. The trombone soloist brings the ensemble to consensus through variations of the original musical question, which morph through various jazz and popular music styles. The ensemble begins to imitate the trombonist. Ultimately, the complementary quartets discover the irony of a conflict in which both sides have more in common than they initially realize.


Ava Ordman, trombone

Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, conducted by H. Robert Reynolds

Birmingham Unitarian Church, Detroit


April 13, 2008

And the Tree Grows Again (2007)

solo flute, solo marimba, 1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon, 2 alto saxophones, 1 tenor saxophone, 1 baritone saxophone, 
1 horn, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, 1 tuba, piano


This piece is based on images of growing trees from literary and religious sources. The chamber ensemble is placed in an arc around the solo flute and marimba; the ensemble representing the bark of a tree and the soloists its branches. An atmospheric saxophone canon based on an arpeggiating theme opens the piece. The soloists enter when this arpeggiation reaches its peak, "branching off" into a complimentary, descending arpeggiation theme. The ascending arpeggiated motive is developed through longer and longer variations, each featuring a different part of the ensemble, with the soloists answering. As the piece builds to a climax, the arpeggiation motive is taken up by the entire ensemble as it begins to pan around the soloists. The slow opening canon idea returns, starting in the low register of the tuba and "growing" through the entire register of the ensemble to end the piece.


Julianna Moore, flute

Michael Bump, marimba

members of the Truman State University Wind Symphony,

Dan Peterson, conductor

Truman State University New Music Festival

Oct. 25, 2007

Three Spanish Songs (2005)

1. Olas grises

2. Nocturno

3. Sueño despierto


texts: Leopoldo Lugones, Rubén Darío, and José Martí


This cycle is a setting of three contrasting poems by Latin-American poets Leopoldo Lugones, Rubén Darío, and José Martí. Olas grisesuses evocative rain and sea imagery to meditate on the nature of life and death. Set as a lyrical, quasi-strophic song, these images are portrayed through the opening percussion rain drop motive and the moaning vocal line used throughout the movement. Nocturno is a frantic soliloquy set as an extended opera scene. The piano and percussion accompany the soprano in the opening recitative which is followed by a surreal aria accompanied by the rest of the ensemble. This is followed by a re-statement of both sections. Sueño despiertois a short poem about the contrasting images of a waking dream. Based on a fragment of the lullaby Nanita nana, heard in its entirety at the opening, the song is a set of three variations, followed by a coda, which portray these various images.


Caroline Helton, soprano

University of Michigan Symphony Band, Michael Haithcock conductor

Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI


December 12, 2005