Symphonic Music



Proverbs of the Karen People

  • Concert Band and Womens’ Chorus – Grade 3.5
  • 6 1/2 minutes
  • Commisioned by the Huron High School Band, Larry Petersen, director, and the Karen Association of Huron, SD.
  • The Karen are an ethnic group from Southeastern Burma, many of whom have fled the ongoing civil wars there to come to the United States. As with any immigrant population, they come with their own culture, language, and musical tradition, which in time will merge with our own cultural mix, creating a newer, richer American culture. This piece attempts to imagine how our cultures might mix, with the wisdom of Karen tradition expressed through a blend of Karen and American music. From this diversity, we can learn much about our own culture; from looking at the wisdom of others, we can learn more about ourselves.
  • Score Sample
  • Video Recording, Huron High School Band and Womens’ Chorus, dir. Larry Petersen:

 Saturn’s long strands of ancient hair (2014/15)

  •  Concert Band – Grade 4
  • 7 1/2 minutes
  • Taking inspiration from a poem by Philip Rice, “Saturn’s long strands of ancient hair” is a meditation on both the title line and the full poem, which in my interpretation attempts to bridge the gap between human and cosmic distances. The delicate contrapuntal lines, built around a cantus firmus derived from a composition by Philip Rice, thus attempt to bridge the gap in space between me and my friend, and the gap in time between my present and the past when we went to school together and learned much from each other, as well as between the musical past and present.
  • Score Sample
  • MIDI

Scott Joplin’s Night on the Pleasant Mountain (2012)

  • Concert Band – Grade 4
  • 4 minutes
  • A few words about the title: the phrase “Pleasant Mountain” is a pun on the name of the town where I attended grad school, and the last name of the composer Arnold Schoenberg, who is famous for inventing the twelve-tone technique in classical music. I thought it a pleasant idea to combine melodies derived from a twelve-tone row with the rhythms and structure of American Ragtime and March music. As this combination creates a rather fantastical atmosphere, I thought a titular reference to Modest Musorgsky’s “St. John’s Night on the Bare Mountain” would also be appropriate. Thus we have “Scott Joplin’s Night on the Pleasant Mountain.”
  • Score Sample
  • MIDI

Night Journey (2012)

  • Wind Ensemble – Grade 5
  • 9 1/2 minutes
  • “Night Journey” started with memories of long drives from home to college along US-281, I-80, and other highways, that often stretched into late night. As I was composing, however, the piece shifted away from being a depiction of any actual trip, and became a vehicle for the feelings of anger, grief, triumph, energy, and finally fatigue that come with any significant change.
  • Score Sample
  • MIDI

City Daylight (2011)

  • Concert Band – Grade 3 1/2
  • 4 1/2 min
  • Premiered June 2015 by the Tulsa University Summer Festival Band under the direction of Jeremy Parker
  • Skyscrapers have always felt like mountains to me. Walking among them, I can feel their great size surrounding me, affecting the wind, catching the sunlight, and blokcking it at certain times of day. Looking at this piece, I can see in my mind people playing in and among the skyscrapers, the shadows, and most of all the light reflecting in so many different ways.
  • Score Sample
  • Performance by the Bixby High School Wind Ensemble, Tulsa, OK under the direction of Jeremy Parker, February 28, 2016

Stem Cells (2008)

  • Wind Ensemble – Grade 5
  • 7 1/2 minutes
  • Stem Cells are a kind of cell most often found in embryos during their earliest stages of development which have the potential to develop into any type of cell needed for the developing fetus. Scientific use of these cells has been the center of some controversy as of late, but this work does not attempt to depict of comment specifically on that controversy. Rather, it examines what could be called the musical equivalent of stem cells – short, archetypal motives that could be the building blocks of almost any kind of melody in any style of music. In this work, two such motives are take from the prelude and develop into fragments of the Gregorian chants “Victimae Paschali Laudes” and “Dies Irae.” “Victimae” being a chant about the resurrection of Christ being the salvation of mankind from sin and death, and “Dies Irae” being about the punishment of the wicked, a conflict arises. These motives, which could develop into either chant, must make a choice – good or evil?

March of the Toastmaster General (2006)

  • Beginning Band – Grade 1
  • 1 1/2 minutes
  • Premiered December 2013 in Casselton, ND under the direction of Darcy Brandenburg
  • “March of the Toastmaster General” was written while I was working at Target. Among the many products sold there was a brand of toaster called “Toastmaster,” which I immediately associated with the title “Postmaster General.” The opening percussion sounds then suggested themselves to me, and the rest of the piece came that afternoon. Enjoy!
  • Reading by Northern State University Concert Band, 2006
  • Premiere performance under the direction of Darcy Brandenburg, December 2013: