When I joined the Kent State faculty in 2018, I already knew saxophonist Noa Even who was on faculty at the time, and we began to discuss the idea of my writing her a concerto for saxophone and wind ensemble. We were quickly approaching the 50th anniversary of the Kent State Shootings, THE defining event from KSU’s history, and a painful and important collective memory from our country’s history, so I decided to write a concerto that would be dedicated to the victims of the shooting. My concerto, entitled For Those Who Fell is programmatic, and tells an imagined version of the events of that day, with the soloist acting as a leader of student protestors. The piece is in five main sections: Introduction, Gathering Energy, Energy of Protest, Shots Ring Out in Slow Motion, and Elegy. The piece begins with a single note in the saxophone and monolithic chords in the ensemble, sounding a call for protest. Through “Gathering Energy,” the piece’s harmonies begin to slowly move and the soloist plays melodic figuration in an anticipation of protest. “Energy of Protest” is the longest section in the work and drives rhythmically towards the moment when the National Guard shoots into the crowd of students, killing four and injuring nine others. With “Shots Ring Out in Slow Motion” I make time suddenly slow, zooming into this traumatic memory and witnessing the National Guard shooting into the crowd of students. Finally, the piece ends with a bittersweet elegy, during which four members of the ensemble stand one at a time and speak the names of the dead.
Pasiphae Verses was commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center for its 75th anniversary season. The piece is scored for double wind quintet—a somewhat uncommon ensemble. The size of the ensemble allows for intimate solo and chamber moments as well as fuller, “orchestral” sonorities, and I approached the ensemble with the intention of making use of this variety of available textures. Inspired by living in istanbul, I also continued my exploration of melodic microtones in this work, which to my ears allow simple melodic structures to sound fresh in their evocation of the new and old.
Leaf Metal was commissioned by and is dedicated with admiration to friend and conductor Eric Hewitt and the Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble. I have long admired Eric, who champions composers with unparalleled energy, helping to create exciting new repertoire for wind ensemble (and other ensembles).
When I first began discussing the work with Eric, I knew immediately that I wanted to write something “oceanic,” that I would use the whole ensemble like a vast organism. Fleeting soloistic creatures emerge briefly, but are quickly subsumed by the overall sound-mass which flows through a variety of episodes. The title, meant as a poetic suggestion, brings together the natural and the industrial, the decorative and the solid. There are other associations in the work as well: amplified, microtonal harps help create detuned textures which live alongside brassy chords that evoke distorted “big band.” I don’t consider the work to be postmodern though; rather, these fleeting associations are transient figures that arise from and return into the ocean of sound that carries the work.