Music for percussion/chamber ensemble:
Painted from Memory (2018) trio - two movements for violin, cello and marimba (15')
Painted from Memory is a reflection on the psychological process at work when one attempts to recreate an emotive, aesthetic experience out of its original context. It was inspired by readings on the life of Canadian painter Tom Thomson, who spent most of his last years in the Canadian northland where he would travel and paint his impressions of the natural landscape. During the harsh winter months from November to March, Thomson would return to his Toronto studio to “paint from memory” the sights and experiences he carried back with him. Many of Thomson’s works from these Toronto periods have an unusually abstract quality and a more vivid colour palette than his works created in the wild. This work plays on the fragmentation of memory, images and impressions which change over time when we are removed from them, especially in the light of the psychological impact that they have on us.
Painted from Memory was commissioned by Zac Pulac, with the generous assistance of the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council
Handhaving (2016) duo for viola and one percussion (marimba, tubular chimes, bass drum, snare drum, woodblock, sus cym) (11')
The genesis of Handhaving was a series of events that began in Amsterdam in August of 2014, where John Rudolph and I first discussed a new piece for viola and percussion. At the time, we were working with the Toronto Symphony, performing the Shostakovich Symphony no. 11 which I also performed with the National Ballet Orchestra later that fall, (twelve times in twelve days!), so it became ingrained in my thoughts. Also while travelling in Holland, and without knowing its meaning, I saw the word handhaving in many places: on the side of trucks, in elevators, hotel documents, etc. and I was intrigued by what it suggested in English, the idea of “hand having”, of control or possession. In fact, handhaving has several meanings in Dutch including “assertion, enforcement, and maintenance”. All of these qualities struck me excellent descriptors for the Shostakovich composition and thus, Handhaving is a kind of meditation and variation on these elements, with most of the musical material drawn from the Shostakovich work. Handhaving is dedicated to the father/daughter duo of John and Theresa Rudolph.
Ice Lake (2012) for solo vibraphone, viola and three percussion (9')
This work is a reflection of my experiences on a remote frozen lake in winter, together with the sense of stillness and depth that such a scene can evoke. In a rural environment, sounds can be heard from a great distance and even slight changes in detail or movement within the larger landscape can take on greater meaning. The solo vibraphone was chosen for its icy and metallic tone as well as its ability to provide the soloist with melodic and harmonic material in contrast to the primarily non-pitched and supporting percussion instruments. The viola offers an element of spirit and otherness, evocative of a northern wind.
Ice Lake was composed for percussionist Michelle Colton with the assistance of the Toronto Arts Council.
Choro Sem Lua (2015) for voice, piano, 2 guitars, bandoneón (or accordion), bass, percussion (10'30")
Choro Sem Lua is a dramatic setting of poetry by Fernando Pessoa. It was premiered by the Soundstreams Ensemble in 2015 featuring Maria Mulata, vocal; Fabio Zanon and Grisha Goryachev, guitars; Serouj Kradjian, piano; Hector del Curto, bandoneon; Jeff Beecher, bass; Sarah Thawer, percussion.
Acoustic Shadows (2016) for 2 pianos and 3 multi-percussionists (12')
"Acoustic Shadow" is the term for a naturally occurring phenomenon by which sounds emanating from a distant point are heard to sound loud and perceived to be nearby, or conversely, sounds produced nearby are heard to be very quiet or not heard at all. This occurs as the result of reflection or blockage of the sound waves by physical objects such as hills, cliffs, buildings and even wind. While this concept is somewhat incorporated into the current work by means of start-and-stop canonic-like phrases which mutate as they are passed from player to player, I was also interested in creating a sonic representation of another aspect of shadows, specifically their protean quality which can make them unrecognizable from the shapes that they reflect. Depending on the proximity and angle of the light source, shadows can be larger or smaller than their objects, elongated, distorted, overlapping, grotesque and often, very beautiful.
On another level, the harmonic content of this composition is a type of shadow, being derived completely from the two chords used by Edgar Varese in the final section of his work "Ionisation". This passage has always fascinated me, in that with the arrival of harmonic material after the first 3/4 of the piece has utilized only non-pitched percussion instruments, the entrance of the piano, glockenspiel and tubular chimes creates an extremely jarring and otherworldly effect. I often experience this part of the piece as an opening to another, unexplored dimension. As such, Acoustic Shadows is itself an elongated shadow of those harmonies.