I also write music.
Here are some examples.
Joshua Fit the Battle – for violin and bass clarinet
Written for and performed by Box Not Found, 2018
In 1961, my father was 10 and lost his older sister, Linda, to kidney failure. The pain was so great and there was no support for grieving families at the time, so his parents—my grandparents—removed all evidence that she had ever lived. A year later they had a “replacement child,” my uncle, who did not learn about Linda until he was ten and found a box of get-well cards in the attic addressed to a sister he never knew he had.
About a year ago, my father and his two brothers decided to bring their sister back into the light by creating a memorial award in her name. More info on Linda and the award can be found here.
I grew up with photos of Linda in the house and have always known this story, but when the memorial award was set up, I wanted to retell her family’s story in my own way. I wrote a Pecha Kucha poem—a series of short vignettes—based on this story and more recently, turned it into a piece of music for Box Not Found.
Out of the Flowers – for string quartet
Performed by Cardamom Quartet, 2018
String quartet based on a quote by Basho: "The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers."
In Question – for string orchestra
In Question explores the idea of what it means to cross a threshold, especially the juxtaposition of childhood and adulthood, familiarity and unfamiliarity. Just a week into working on this piece came the results of our presidential election at which point its meaning expanded and I found that I was asking these rhetorical questions: does something familiar always bring comfort? Does something comfortable need to be familiar?
In this piece, I chose to reference an old hymn that I learned as a fiddle tune called Sea Amid the Winter Snow. The tune is first heard in its entirety by one player while the rest of the ensemble is playing much louder around her. To me this moment represents our current political climate and the frightening fact that that which makes sense is often being drowned out. After the hymn is played in full harmony by a string quartet, the opening theme comes back but, this time, it is backwards. In Question wonders whether backwards/forwards and familiar/unfamiliar are indeed opposites. Ultimately, it is a meditation on hope: that even when we can’t hear or see something, it does not mean it isn’t there.
All Is Well – for solo piano
Performed by Miki Sawada, 2017
All Is Well is based on a shape-note song by the same title from the "Northern Harmony" collection. Written in 1948, the words are about the peace that comes only in the afterlife. I chose to write this piece based on the paradox that all is well here and now, and all is also not well, which I illustrate using two tonal centers. There is also a chorale-like moment in the middle which is a distilled version of the original shape-note melody.