Compositions

The following are descriptions of selected recent compositions for different instrumental combinations with clips where available; scores and archival recordings are available through the Canadian Music Centre. A more complete catalogue of compositions is included at the bottom of this page.

Knob and Tube (2011) is a work for chamber orchestra with live electronics that employs Max MSP and Ableton Live software to manipulate the sounds created by the orchestra in real time. The piece is characterized by sustained textures that gradually evolve as well as occasional melodic lines that emerge from the wash of orchestral sound. There are also a number of brief self-contained passages that feature recurring musical gestures and specific combinations of instruments and sound processing.The title is reflective of the “wired” nature of the set-up: each instrument is individually amplified and fed through a 16-channel interface to the computer. While this set-up does allow for unique processing of each instrument, it does generate a mess of cables reminiscent of an old school fuse box. Knob and Tube was commissioned by the Windsor Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council. The following is an excerpt from a live performance by the Windsor Symphony under John Morris Russell, recorded for the CBC program The Signal.

 

Outer Drive (2014) is a ten-minute work for piano with electroacoustic audio and video. The work exists both in a fixed version and in an interactive version where specific video clips are triggered by the bass notes of the piano. There are streets named Outer Drive in both Windsor, Ontario and Dearborn, Michigan; the video footage captures the austere spaciousness and unsentimental architecture of the suburbs of North American cities. The piano composition in turn creates a sense of expansiveness through the resonance of piano sonorities and through long melodies whose notes connect on multiple levels. The piece was created by Brent Lee and Chris McNamara for Megumi Masaki as part of the Noiseborder Ensemble’s continuing exploration of the relationship between sound and image. The video below is from an early rehearsal, with me at the piano.

 

Braga (2009) is entitled after a lithograph of the same name by noted Canadian artist John Snow. I knew John through his association with New Works Calgary, an organization he co-founded in the early 1980s.  I had the pleasure of composing a short piece on the occasion of John and Kathleen Snow’s fiftieth wedding anniversary; John presented me with one of his lithographs (Braga) in appreciation. I’m not certain of the origin of the title, but I assume it is named after the city in northern Portugal. The still life has a sense of intense summer heat, and the flowers suggest to me simple geometrical figures as much as blossoms. I have tried to capture something of the character of this lithograph in the composition. The text is from a trovador poem entitled Cantiga d’amor written by Airas Nunez in the late 13th century. The language is Galician-Portuguese, a medieval dialect popular with poets throughout the Iberian peninsula at that time. Braga was commissioned by the Ensemble Resonance with the assistance of the Canada Council. The following is an excerpt of a studio recording by the Ensemble Resonance released in 2011.

 

Like Breath (2003) was inspired by a series of art works in different media. The oldest of these art works is an ink painting by 14th-century Chinese artist Tsou Fulei entitled A Breath of Spring. This painting depicts a plum branch in blossom, and is delicately executed in ink on a scroll a little over one foot in height and seven feet in length. Numerous poems, tributes, and seals annotate the surface of the painting around the plum branch, including a poem by the emperor Ch-ien Lung. Like the Chinese characters on the scroll, the music comprises a series of discrete gestures, each roughly the same length. These passages recur in an expanding sequence, implying a grammar of musical gestures that reflects both the characters inscribed on the painting (a visual/musical metaphor) and the regular patterns of breathing and changing seasons compared in the poem (a textual/musical metaphor). Like Breath was commissioned by the Windsor Symphony Orchestra with the assistance of the Canada Council Composer-in-residence program.

 

Turbulent Flow (2010) is a 12-minute electroacoustic work incorporating various strategies for data sonification in its composition. A data set derived from measuring the fluctuating wind velocity of a turbulent air flow was mapped onto a variety of parameters in the design of timbres and in the sequencing of musical events. This mapping includes pitch, rhythm, amplitude, panning, filter frequencies, and various parameters of FM and granular synthesis instruments. The translation of raw data to usable musical information was done using Csound software, while the multi-tracking and triggering of events as well as the processing of the sonic material was achieved with Ableton Live. While this work is part of a larger project to investigate the aural perceptibility of patterns in complex data sets, Turbulent Flow uses the interesting sonic results of these experiments as source material for an artistic work, freely ordering and combining fragments into rich electroacoustic textures. Turbulent Flow was commissioned by Chenoa Anderson with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council. The following is an excerpt of the studio recording by Chenoa Anderson.

 

From Higher Ground (2008) is a chamber work for violin, cello, and harp of about fifteen minutes duration. The central metaphor for this piece reflects the idea of hard-won freedom and shelter, and also the possibility of seeing things anew from a superior vantage point. To this extent From Higher Ground is a companion piece to my String Quartet No. 1 (Leaving a Place) composed in 1999. The piece was premiered by Amy Ley, Andrea Yun and Beznik Yzeiri at the Windsor Canadian Music Festival in 2009. From Higher Ground was commissioned by Amy Ley with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council. The following is an excerpt of a live performance by Amy Ley, Andrea Yun, and Besnik Yzeiri recorded by the CBC for their program The Signal.

 

 

CATALOGUE OF COMPOSITIONS

Multimedia works

Signs and Symptoms (2014) 10 min. [sax, cl., tr., trb., vla., cb., perc., live audio processing, live video (Sigi Torinus)]

Outer Drive (2014) 10 min. [piano, live audio processing, live video (Chris McNamara)]

Music for Cinephilia (2013) 25 min. [fixed audio for short documentary film (Sung Min Bae)]

Dublin Corner Variations (2013) 5 min. [fixed audio for experimental video (Brent Lee)]

Empty Suit (2012) 2 min. [fixed audio for experimental video (Owen Eric Wood)]

Parvis (2012) 8 min. [variable ensemble, interactive audio and video (Sigi Torinus)]

Ferrovia (2012) 10 min. [piano, live audio processing, live video (Sigi Torinus)]

Music for This is What a Feminist Sounds Like (2012) 80 min. [fixed audio for documentary film (Kim Nelson)]

rEVOLVE (2012) 5 min. [fixed audio for experimental video (Sigi Torinus)]

Knob and Tube (2011) 15 min. [chamber orchestra 1111/1110/1 perc./solo strings 11111, live audio]

Music for Metazombie (2011) 30 min. [fixed audio for documentary film (Kim Nelson)]

Subatomic Time (2011) 35 min. [solo percussion, live electronics, and live video (Sigi Torinus)]

Wanted Land to Work (2011) 3 min. [fixed audio for experimental video (Kim Nelson)]

Music for Make Me Young Again (2011) 25 min. [live audio for dance theatre (Gina Lori Riley)]

Music for Berliner (2010) 23 min.  [fixed audio for documentary film (Kim Nelson)]

Discrete Strains (2009) 18 min. [chamber ensemble, live video (Sigi Torinus)]

I hear your voice in the circling night (2008) 4 min. [bass clarinet, live audio, video (Sigi Torinus)]

Lax (2007) 20 min. [variable chamber ensemble, fixed audio, and video (Brent Lee)]

Apresso gir ne veda piangendo (2006) 10 min. [sound installation]

Music for Vox animae (2004) 35 min. [fixed audio for dance theatre (Gina Lori Riley)]

Selvedge (2002) 12 min. [orchestra 2222/4220, 2 perc., strings, live electronics, video (Sigi Torinus)]

Music for Quartet (1988) 25 min. [fixed audio for theatre (Imago Theatre)]

 

Electroacoustic works, with or without acoustic instruments

Turbulent Flow (2010) 12 min. [flute, live audio]

Braga (2009) 8 min. [soprano, bass clarinet, piano, live audio]

Some Assembly Required (2005) 11 min. [soprano saxophone, fixed audio]

Gemmetic Modifications (2003) 4 min. [fixed audio]

Ribbons of Visible Air (1999) 20 min. [soprano sax, violin, cello, piano, 1 perc., live audio]

Voie pour doubler (1998) 4 min [fixed audio]

South and West (1995) 9 min. [clarinet, viola, piano, percussion, live audio]

Core ardendo (1994) 9 min. [fixed audio]

The Burning-ground (1993) 6 min. [flute, violin, piano/synth, live audio]

All of my Sleep is Dreaming (1991) 11 min. [cello with live audio]

La verità fora (1989) 11 min. [fixed audio]

Anteriorities (1989) 8 min. [piano and fixed audio]

The Clocks of the World (1988, rev.1990) 10 min. [harp, piano, guitar (all amplified)]

Deliberate Disguises (1986) 13 min. [fixed audio]

 

Works for large ensemble

Heaven Will Rise (2008) 4 min. [SSAA chorus]

Ruck and Rill (2007) 18 min. [solo electric viola and orchestra 2222/4331, timp., 2 perc., hp., strings]

Chorea (2006) 22 min. [orchestra 3333/4331, timp., 2 perc., harp, strings]

Arcadia (2005) 11 min. [chamber orchestra 1121/1000, 2 keyboards, strings]

Trance Phatty Acid (2005) 4 min. [orchestra 2222/4331, timp., 3 perc., strings]

Iron Horses (2005) 5 min. [orchestra 2222/4231, timp., 2 perc., strings]

The Equinox Below (2004) 4 min. [orchestra 2222/4221, timp., strings]

Last-minute Lulu (2003) 35 min. [narrator, 1111/1000, strings]

Voca me cum benedictis (2003) 6 min. [orchestra 3322/4231, timp., 2 perc., strings]

Gatineau River (2003) 3 min. [orchestra 2222/4221, timp., strings]

Like Breath (2003) 9 min. [orchestra 2222/2210, 3 perc., hp., strings]

Stone and Star (2000) 15 min. [2 solo violins and string orchestra]

Luminous Night (1999) 12 min. [orchestra 1111/1000, 1 perc., strings]

Am Rande der Nacht (1997) 13 min. [orchestra 2222/2120, 1 perc., hp., pno., strings]

James Again (1998) 9 min. [orchestra 3333/4331, 1 perc., hp., strings]

Memorial (1995) 5 min. [string orchestra]

Cycles of the Harbinger (1988) 10 min. [wind symphony]

 

Chamber Music

Hardangersøm (2013) 10 min. [string quartet]

From Higher Ground (2008) 14 min. [violin, cello, harp]

Shadow Variations (2005) 9 min. [organ]

Circadia (2003) 11 min. [alto fl., sop. sax, flugelhorn, trb., cb., 1 perc., Hammond org.]

I wait for you in the gathering light (2002) 3 min. [solo viola]

Maquette XII (2002) 1 min. [solo bass clarinet]

In divino intelletto (2001) 9 min. [soprano, clarinet, violin, piano, synthesizer]

El aspirar del aire (2001) 8 min. [counter-tenor, 2 tenors, baritone]

O vos omnes (1999) 4 min. [soprano and organ]

I look at the moon, I see my boy (1999) 4 min. [solo violin]

Leaving a Place (String Quartet No. 1) (1999) 20 min. [string quartet]

Through November (1997) 5 min. [string quartet]

Subjective Geometries (1996) 15 min. [solo piano]

Maquette X (1996) 3 min. [clarinet, trumpet, violin, contrabass, piano., 1 percussion]

Ascending the Triglav (1994), 4 min. [alto flute, cello, vibraphone]

Children of Aurora (1994) 4 min. [brass quartet]

Landscapes in a Luminous Night (1993, rev. 1997) 12 min. [soprano and harp]

More Fog (1993) 2 min. [viola and vibraphone]

Hot Ice and Wondrous Strange Snow (1993) 4 min. [solo cello]

Quel ch’ella par quando un poco sorride (1989) 9 min. [female voice, variable ensemble]

Maquette V (1987) 5 min. [violin, cello, piano]

Maquette IV (1987) 4 min. [violin and cello]