Thorn Tree (Excerpt) -The strength of Hambrick’s poem “Thorn Tree” lies in its imagery and drama. Musically, I depict a great deal of the poem’s natural images and give the soprano plenty of opportunities for dramatic performance. The dissonant “thorn” chord that begins the piece serves as pitch material for a number of gestures and later harmonies. The changes in mood throughout the piece follow the emotional progression of the poem ending with cautious hope for spring and new love.
As Seen By Them - Hickman’s poem is complex while maintaining a feeling of naiveté. His mostly three lined stanzas present multiple images which often contrast. This creates a more full representation of the natural life-cycle journey depicted. The form of the music follows this idea of contrasting motifs, pairing movement with stillness, introspective melodies and searching harmonies with aggressive and direct gestures. Occasionally, the musical imagery precedes its textual inspiration, setting the tone for the singer.
Some Kiss (Excerpt) - Rumi’s poem is a reflective meditation on human love and spiritually, acknowledging that if god is in everyone and everything then the human desire for romantic love is also a yearning to be one with god, to be illuminated. Rumi succinctly delivers a considered and objective analysis of human passion from a personal and intimate place. It is a peaceful acceptance of desire as a natural, if earthly, urge. The music then strives to follow in Rumi’s artistic footsteps with figures of measured longing placing human desire in nature’s ebb and flow.
Alleluia - Dedicated to my daughter Caroline and written for her birth, this piece gives thanks for her. It is an expression of the joyful expectation of her arrival into our family and an attempt to put music to my ever-growing feelings of love and adoration for her.
Psalm Twenty Three (Excerpt) - This setting of the original Hebrew text interprets the Psalm as as walking meditation of solitary reflection. The cello walks, the piano paints the pastoral surroundings and the soprano converses with god.
Psalm Forty Six (Excerpt) - This setting for Soprano, Alto, Viola, Cello and Piano weaves an English translation of the Psalm with the original Hebrew.
Sanctuary The text of this work is drawn from a poem by Ellen Steibaum. For me a sanctuary is more than a place of peace and security, it is a place of transformation. Rather than merely depicting this kind of transformation, I wrote this piece to create an aural sanctuary for the listener—an opportunity to welcome metaphysical change and tranquility.
Six Demonic Dances is a character study in mischief. While technically challenging the real opportunity for the performer is to fully develop the characters of each movement. Each dance has a specific pace or groove that must be established and maintained. Each movement, when performed, should visualize for the audience not only some gremlin or gargoyle dancing about, but should convey to the audience specific details about the creatures.
The Way of the Wind The tone and concept for this piece comes from a cycle of lesser-known poems by Robert Frost. Frost's poetry conveys a deep but not always easy connection to nature; a rich and textured sense of humanity; the unyielding path of time; the bliss of the youth, the wisdom of old age; the queerness of death and our reactions to it. In this piece, the voices of the wind and early America are woven together, singing Appalachian melodies over folk song like drones.
Some videos of performances and collaborations with choreographers
Les Battements (Excerpt)
The text of this piece is a translation into French of Robert Graves’s poem “Counting the Beats.” Evocative of impending suffering, Graves’s text sets a dark and foreboding mood. The tenor, at once narrator and subject, converses with the clarinet. The piano, playing a more supportive role, sounds the intimate heartbeats of the subjects early in the work and later the drums and tumbril wheels of a death march. This piece was commissioned by Hixon Dance for their 2008-2009 season. In the above excerpt you can see Sarah Hixon's choreograhy entitled "Wakeful They Lie" The words of Robert Graves are set to music and reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the Robert Graves Copyright Trust.
Five Sculptures in Sound (Excerpt)
This is a study in concrete music, a style of music where, much like sculptors, composers capture ‘real world’ sounds and manipulate/structure them to create music. To further this analogy I used sound sources related to the five individual materials (some more abstractly than others) and attempted to manipulate the sounds using digital techniques analogous to the techniques used by sculptors to work with each individual material. Many thanks to Joe Panzner whose help on this project made it possible. In the above excerpt (Glass) Shawn Hove's choreography no matter where you are there you are (middle child) puts a very human face on what is a decidely abstract piece of music.
Luna Park Stroll (Documentation)
In a site-specific performance by Lara Wilder lighting was used to bring to life the ghosts of the now abandoned Luna Park, the west coast version of Coney Island. The sound scape I created to evoke the feeling of being at Luna Park "back in the day" was played through many small speakers hidden throughout the rocks in and around the area.
Presented in this video are some pictures by Cindy Apple documenting the performance on a beach in Seattle Washington accompanied by a remix of the music I wrote for the installation. If you've got headphones handy rock 'em because the remix is deisgned to give you the feeling of walking around the park.