Commissioned by Carl E. Baldassarre in 2015 and completed in 2016, "Inside My Glass Doors" is a work that chronicles my artistic life-journey from west to east and back again; a kunstlerröman that chronicles the experiences of myself and others that have altered my life and my outlook on the world in remarkable ways. The title comes from the autobiographical essays of famed Japanese writer Natsume Soseki. His work, Garasudoa No Uchi, is a collection of essays that were originally published in the Daily Asahi Newspaper in 1915. Natsume Soseki's work is a literary reminiscence formed in thirty-nine individual writings that stopped only a year before his death in 1916. I chose the title "Inside My Glass Doors" because while my internal experience may be subjective and somewhat inaccessible to others, my music operates as a glass door that invites the audience into my heart. In the span of eight brief minutes, I invite you to hear my passion for Western Classical Music and Eastern traditional philosophy and culture.
I wrote this piece while in Japan in 2015 for the PAND Annual Concert (Performers and Artists for Nuclear Disarmament) which was held on the 70th Anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While composing, I tried to empathize with the people who lived in Hiroshima when the city was bombed. As a Westerner, it is difficult for me to truly know what it must be like to live under a state of war being fought in my hometown. How terrifying it must have been to know that at any moment my home could become the front line, and my family -- and my way of life -- could be destroyed by a barrage of bullets or by a bomb. In my attempt to understand, I was reminded of a book by John Hersey; the book "Hiroshima" chronicles the aftermath of the dropping of the H-Bomb through field observations and evocative descriptions of the wreckage. Through reading this book and listening to the folk music produced in the culture at the time, I have tried to convey the heartbreak and terror that I imagine the people living at the time must have experienced. This piece was commissioned by Mary Kay Fink of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Duet for Clarinet in A and Viola (2016)
This duet commissioned by Katrin Meidell and Libby Crawford was inspired by the great work of Rebecca Clarke who so elegantly wrote for both Viola and Clarinet; melding the two sounds together effortlessly. In my work, I mixed a little bit of her tonality with a work I wrote for Viola Duet titled "In Paris With You," which was also performed by Katrin Meidell. The work is in three major parts and is through composed. The beginning choral like, the second is articulate with cross rhythms and imitative counterpoint. The final section is melodious with virtuostic underpinnings.
While composing "The Wind Sweeps Up Foliage Beneath the Moonlight," I was inspired by the wood block print "Plum Blossom and the Moon" by Katsushika Hokusai. I imagined the delicate plum leaves being taken off the tree by a gust of wind and alighting on the ground. The image that was burned into my mind reminded me of the music associated with Japan's Edo period -- in the West, the period we associate with the rise of both the Samurai and the Zen approach to life. Therefore, I used Japanese pitch material that can be heard in many different genres of their traditional music. In addition, I attempted to create a free like atmosphere to imitate the floating quality of the leaves. Like a poet attempts to render movement through time by describing a still image, I have attempted to sonically evoke the free-floating movement of leaves in a scene that is calm and still.
Parallax is a short work for Violin duet that explores the two individual voices in parallax. While composing this piece jury members had requested a piece that had 'hot rhythms' and 'unconventional' techniques. So, this piece possesses a very unique sound that really only the violin can render. There is a sliding technique that involves playing the same pitch on two adjacent strings and moving one of the notes by either a half step or whole step up or down, creating a minor second or major second interval. Afterwards, the original pitch follows suit and joins to create another in unison. Within the composition, there are a lot of intense chords and aggressive passages that fly by at 60 miles an hour. Barriolage is an additional technique that is heavily utilized in the work because I knew that it would create the most sound and intensity.
1. Kanshin Reigetsu
嘉辰令月 歡無極 萬歲千秋樂 未央
Joy without end
Ten thousand years, thousand autumns:
Bliss not even half consumed.
The water in the cool pond
Relieves the heat of summer,
The wind in the high pine tree
Raises the voice of autumn.
7. Haru Sugi
春過夏闌 遠司徒之家雪応路達 旦南暮北 鄭大尉之溪風被人知
Spring has passed into the height of summer:
The road to Minister Yüan's house is free from snow.
In the morning from the south, in the evening from the North:
So does the wind in Chancellor Cheng's valley become known to man.
2. Toku wa kore
Virtue is like the constant Northern Star
The Camellia leaves sprout again
Dignity turnto the South
The pine bloom achieves then changes.
曉入梁王之苑 雪滿群山 夜登廋公之樓 月明千里
Dawn enters the garden of the king of Liang
And snow fills the chain of mountains,
Night climbs the tower of prince Yü
And the moon lights a distance of thousand li.
The willow on the Eastern shore comes early
The willow on the Western shore is late
When the Southern plum blossom falls
The Northern plum blossoms opens.
紅葉又紅葉 連峯之嵐淺深 蘆花又蘆花 斜岸之雪遠近
Red leaves and more red leaves:
Mist on a row of hills, now thin, now deep;
Rush flowers and more rush flowers:
Snow on the slanting shore, now far, now near.
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