for clarinet, bassoon, horn, violoncello, and contrabass
Duration: 6 minutes 30 seconds
First performed in a private workshop by Lontano (Odaline de la Martinez, dir.) in February 2017.
Properly speaking, Variations is a completely straightforward work. In the introduction, a lush, romantic theme appears, and is then adapted into three movements of wildly-varying styles: a light-footed tarantella, a placid and pared-down aria, and a rambunctious march. Despite the bizarre instrumentation (close to a wind quintet, but terribly bass-heavy), I challenged myself to utilize the musicians to their full potential - packing the orchestration full of colour - such that each of the specific instruments are vital to the music.
The audio below is from a workshop performance by Lontano (Odaline de la Martinez, dir.) in February 2017.
for two violins
Duration: 4 minutes
First performed privately by Caroline Balding and Ruth Erlich in November 2016.
My Sonatina for two violins was written as a practice piece as I entered graduate studies at King's College London. In this work, the two violinists constantly dance between scurrying figures, a strong first theme, and a lyrical second theme. However, the supposed 'development section' is derailed by unstable interpolations; by the end, it is the gentle second theme which has come out victorious.
The audio below is from a workshop performance by Caroline Balding and Ruth Erlich in November 2016.
for oboe, alto saxophone, marimba & piano
Duration: 6 minutes
Meditation was written for a planned performance (yet unrealized) by a collective of Regina-based composers. The concert was to be centred around the marimba; as such, my piece is a pulsating musical moment where the marimba acts as the core timekeeper. Throughout, the music alternates between moments of stasis and extreme motion, culminating at the central divide when a state of "nirvana" is suddenly reached. In this state of suspended animation, the harmonic structure completely collapses, and snatches of a distant celestial hymn can be heard from afar.
Sacred and Profane (2015)
for clarinet choir
Duration: 8 minutes
Commissioned by the University of Regina Clarinet Choir (Pauline Minevich, dir.). First performed in December 2015.
Sacred and Profane is all about finding a certain quality of sacredness in music, especially through a medium which has no words to communicate. The piece is made up of three original hymns, all set in a traditional fashion, although with complex, modern harmonic twists. Interspersed between these hymns are a set of interludes: some calm and soothing, but others erratic and unpredictable (this is the profane in the title). However, these interludes also have an inherent religiosity to them, and the harmonies are adapted from religious chants, so they are not as far removed from the hymns as it first appears.
Dot Music (2015)
for flute, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, and piano
Duration: 6 minutes 30 seconds
First performed by Danielle Yao, Kendra Heslip, Augustin Nguyen, Yiming Huan, and Andriy Talpash (cond.) in April 2015.
Dot Music was a piece written for my undergraduate degree in composition. My personal challenge was to create a work of absolute simplicity (clearly constructed from a selection of microscopic materials) but which capitalizes maximally on the possible density of texture and colour. The framework of the music was constructed from permutations of rhythmic lengths, outlined by single "dots" (staccato notes), whereas the piano follows this framework religiously, the wind instruments use it as a basis for soloistic development.
Atomic Fanfare (2014)
for two trumpets, horn, tenor trombone, and bass trombone
Duration: 6 minutes 45 seconds
Finalist in the 2014 Student Composer Competition by PARMA Recordings. Digitally published in their 2014 Anthology of Music (see below).
Atomic Fanfare, like many of my pieces, started as a beginning. I knew the opening gesture was going to be (had to be!) a repeated pitch, quietly insistent, and one which would get shuffled around the ensemble; my musical tastes have long tended towards minimalist and post-minimalist aesthetics, so this is nothing new or original. However, it was from these first measures, the moto perpetuo of continual sixteenth notes, from which I derived the piece. The work is cast in a basic ternary form; the opening A section features non-stop sixteenth notes as a driving force, around which other harmonies and rhythms can dance. As the music gains energy, a fanfare is exchanged from the trombones to the trumpets and horn, and finally to the entire ensemble, at which time the steady rhythmic motion is ground to a halt. The B section, a moment of pure stasis, draws itself from my own religious experiences; a free plainchant melody is passed from instrument to instrument as it progresses through several rich modes. Echoes of the opening material, distant in both tonality and rhythm, continue to make dry interruptions, until the horn begins a transition back into the A’ section. Following a brief summary of the main themes, the piece explodes with energy into the coda, and a rousing fanfare ends the work – the atom is split; let it rest.
Complete score and parts are available for free download (!) from PARMA Recordings.
String Quartet No. 1 "Parisian Postcards" (2012)
for two violins, viola, and contrabass
Duration: 10 minutes
Commissioned by String Theory (Sarah Punshon, Colleen Grubb, Megan Zak, and Brent Gelsinger). First performed November 2012.
In the spring of 2009, I was lucky enough to participate in a school trip to Paris with four of my fellow classmates. As with any metropolitan city as sprawling and intimidating as Paris, I had an extremely vivid and personal experience which has stuck with me to this day. My first string quartet, commissioned by a local ensemble, is a musical depiction of my time in the City of Lights through eight short vignettes: Overture (The Plane Descends) uses minimalist motors to depict the plane landing through the clouds and the city of Paris coming into view; On the Streets shows the extreme hustle of Paris life; Promenade - Along the Champs-Élysées is a (slightly pompous) depiction of the most famous (and ritzy) street in Paris; Asleep in the Musée d'Orsay is a dream-like depiction of the impressionist art museum (following my own personal run-in with Gravol); Café Music - In the Pâtisserie is an elegant bass solo (as if they are a busking musician, perhaps?); Pickpockets On the Paris Metro shows the furtive theft that occurs in the over-crowded trains; Waltz - On the Seine River With Your One True Love depicts a dance scene (a la Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker) where the intoxicating romance of Paris seems to overwhelm; and the Coda, where the plane ascends once more to the clouds.