Instrumental Music with Theater

Can we just stop this already? 

 

Commissioned for Digital Divergent,

 

Premiered: Sept 27, 2020

Vanessa Holroyd, flute/piccolo 

Kemp Jernigan, oboe 

Chuck Ferlong, clarinet 

Hazel Dean Davis, horn 

Rachel Elliott, bassoon 

 

Duration: 5 min

This wind quintet depicts clown-like humor with a rebellious player and the rest of the group calming them down. 

How to Sneak in the Night 

Commissioned for Digital Divergent

Premiered September 26, 2020

Daniel Venglar, trumpet 

Patrick Wu, violin 

Quinn Gutman, voiceover

 

Duration: 4 min.

Were you ever in the forest late at night and don't know what to do? This will be your guide. 

Tossing and Turning

 

Commissioned and performed by percussionist Evan Miller

Text by John Updike.

Premiered June 2016 at TEJAS Gallery.

As the percussionist plays the vibraphone, they speak the poem by John Updike about all the troubles one has waking up in the middle of the night and moving around on the bed, hoping that that will put you back to sleep.

Let’s Keep in Touch 

 

Read by SŌ Percussion at the Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton, NJ on July 2015

 

Premiered June 2016 at the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA.

 

Duration: 8:30

This percussion quartet tells a general story of four friends growing up together, going their separate ways, and staying in touch via letters. At the beginning of the piece, the four percussionists circle around a vibraphone, playing as a unit. Then, one at a time, they each walk away from the vibraphone to their own separate stations. Occasionally, one of the four goes back to the vibraphone, “writing a letter” to another one of the four. The piece ends with all four coming back to the vibraphone, playing together again.

Alone Amongst Everyone Else 

 

July 27, 2015 Small World Coffee, Princeton, NJ.

Evan Miller, Tiago Calderano, and Maxwell Kolpin percussion 

 

Duration: 8:28

A theatrical flashmob piece for three percussionists. It’s called a flashmob piece because it’s meant to be performed randomly in a place where people go to for socializing, and almost never expect to see a performance. The performers initially blend in with the crowd, then randomly start playing this piece. The musicians play their instruments no differently than how a normal person would read a book or work on their laptop in this setting, not paying any mind to the people around them. The first percussionist, called the Protagonist, plays woodblock. The other two are Peer 1, who plays glockenspiel, and Peer 2, who plays an assortment of table percussion. Each of the three percussionists have a character that they act out. It tells a story of social anxiety and how that leads to low self esteem and depression.

It’s Coming (and You Can’t Ignore it) 

 

June 2014. Middlebury Town Hall, Middlebury, NH

Ari Streisfeld and Alexandra Matloff violins 

John Pickford Richards viola 

Georgiy Khoklov cello 

Jessica Woodbridge King bassoon

 

Duration: 9:04

This piece tells the story about a victim (or victims) being confronted by Death. The piece begins with the string quartet playing the opening fugue to Beethoven’s op. 131. As they play the piece, they start to make a few mistakes here and there. These mistakes gradually increase in number until the quartet ends up playing a big mess of harmonic and rhythmic dissonance. The quartet tries to play the piece again. This time, there are even more mistakes than before and they happen much earlier. After a few attempts to get back in tune, the quartet comes to the realization that they are about to die. The bassoon enters as a regular character passing by. He plays a simple folk-like melody. The string quartet tries to join in by playing this melody canonically with the bassoon. There is a mistake every now and then. There’s some “small talk” to follow this episode where the bassoon asks the quartet if they’re alright. The quartet says they’re fine. The bassoon plays his melody

again with variation in octave placement to trick the quartet. The strings try to play with the bassoon again. This time, there are even more mistakes. This is followed by another bit of “small talk” in the same manner as before. The bassoon tells them that he knows that they are not healthy because he is actually Death in disguise. He/she reveals this by playing a variation of the maiden’s melody in Schubert’s song “Der Tot und das Mädchen”. This variation of that melody is more chromatic and “death like”than the original. The strings do not react well to this. They play a version of the Maiden’s melody from “Der Tot und das Mädchen” that has the same mood as the original, but is not a direct quotation. The bassoon (aka

Death) takes the quartet to the next life by playing small quotes of Death’s melody in “Der Tot und das Mädchen”. The quartet tries to ignore that by playing the bassoon melody in canonic form with more mistakes then before and many more gaps of silence in each of their parts. The quartet is slowly fading away to nothing until the end of this section. The quartet is dead when they come to a silence. The bassoon ends this piece with the first four notes of Beethoven’s op. 131 quietly and “in the distance.”