I also write music.
Here are some examples.
In Question – for string orchestra
I started writing In Question after I got married this past October and wanted to explore the idea of what it means to cross a threshold. Although not much about my day to day life actually changed, there was this clear juxtaposition in my mind of childhood and adulthood, or 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 Sam Post, 2017
All Is Well is based on a shape-note song by the same title from the "Northern Harmony" collection. The words were written in 1948 and are about the peace that comes only in the afterlife. I chose to base my piece on the paradox that all is well here and now, and all is also not well here and now. The piece has two tonal centers to represent this paradox. There is also a chorale-like moment in the middle which is a distilled version of the original shape-note melody.
Breath Support – for string quartet
Performed by Cardamom Quartet, 2016
Breath Support is an homage to the importance of breathing from both a personal and cultural standpoint. The opening phrase in the first violin evokes a quick exhalation followed by a longer inhalation and the rest of the piece is based on this motif. As each instrument adds its voice, a steady chaos builds until the quartet briefly lands together in harmony only to return to chaos a moment later. Eventually a sustained, quiet chorale offers a moment of stillness.
Many aspects of American culture do not afford room for standing still, listening, and breathing. Being busy is a cultural icon; the Busy Person, a new archetype. It is this lifelong process of slowing down that I aim to capture in Breath Support.
Over and Over – for cello & voice (one performer)
Performed by me at a house concert in Brooklyn, 2017.