Compositions

A Year with Cancer

Info: Composed 2024, approx. duration 16 min, for violin and electronics.

Program notes: A Year with Cancer begins with disruption, a building cacophony of ringtones, and voices layering. One day normal, the next on crutches and having diagnostic scans and medical appointments, days later I learned I had cancer. The violin represents me navigating this. Listen for unanswerable questions before diagnosis, sounds of MRIs and CTs, pumps and other beeping sounds, the violin slowing as it sickens from chemo, and echoes of the music I played and listened to. Also joy and resilience and a soaring, bittersweet melody representing the last time I ever ran – the night before leg surgery. Titanium replaced bone in my leg, making running unsafe. Pre-op questions and the sounds of drilling and sawing follow, the violin awakens in pain but soon finds determination and the sounds of crutches return. Near the unconcluded ending, the constant ear ringing caused by chemo joins, to stay forever in my head.

Performances: June 2nd, 2024 premiere, Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center, Benaroya Hall, ILana Zaks, workshop director Marcin Pączkowski.

Escape

Info: Composed 2023, approx. duration 5 min 30 sec, for orchestra and solo violin.

Program notes: Escape expresses going through something hard and then escaping into the world, nature and being free again. I experience chemotherapy and cancer, then when the orchestra opens up to a major key I leave the hospital and am free to go outside again, into nature and the outdoors where I go backpacking, hiking and camping with my violin.

Performances: November 10th, 2023 premiere, Benaroya Hall, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, solo violin Brannon Warn-Johnston, conductor Anthony Spain.

Misty Oasis in Scorching Heat

Info: Composition finished 2023, approx. duration 6 min, for orchestra.

Program notes: Misty Oasis in Scorching Heat was inspired by a backpacking trip we took near Mt. Rainier in a heat wave during forest fires. You could hear the rumbling of glaciers melting and rivers roaring. It was very hot but there was a little waterfall that was cooler, the “misty oasis.” The temperature change between the waterfall and the air around it was very sudden, like walking out of an oven into a refrigerator! I try to depict the different temperatures and sudden changes through my music: starting out near the waterfall, where birds chirp and it is misty and cool; then the section that represents when my brother’s leg got cut deeply and we had to hike out; the slower hike out, more plodding in the heat and smoke; and the big ending with material from almost every section all fitting together at the same time.

Performances: May 18, 2023 premiere, Benaroya Hall, Seattle Symphony, conductor Sunny Xia.

Seascape: I. Tide Pools; II. Moods of the Sea

Info: Composition finished 2022, approx. duration 9:20 min, instrumentation two violins and cello (also arranged for violin, clarinet and cello; organ and piano; and solo piano)

Program notes: Seascape describes beaches on the coast where I’ve backpacked annually since I was 3, bringing violin and staff paper as I got older. Seascape is made of two movements each describing one of the beaches and their different moods, weather and tides.

I. Tide Pools starts with a calm low tide; herons fish from rocks; seals swim in the distance; birds soar overhead; in the tide pools there are many colorful creatures and plants. Then the tide rushes in and around the rocks and it all disappears. Later, afternoon sun sparkles on the water and the sand is warm.

II. Moods of the Sea evokes the sometimes sudden changes in feeling and weather: a music-filled evening looking out at waves rolling in under a vast, beautiful sunset; out at sea where huge storm waves crash against the rocks in the pounding rain; then more gradually back to the calm waves before dawn.

Performances: May 21, 2023, Tagney Jones Recital Hall at Seattle Opera; April 16, 2023, Brannon Warn-Johnston, violin 1 Jeanne Park, violin 2 Vea Freeman, cello; June 24, 2022, Rose Center for the Arts, Lower Columbia College.

Dirge from an Imagined World

Info: Composition finished 2022, approx. duration 6 min, for brass quintet (also arranged to include piano).

Program notes: Dirge from an Imagined World is based on a piece that I composed and my brother and I used to sing when we were pretending to be magical creatures we made up called Doncys (pronounced like donkeys). Doncys sing a version of this piece as a community ritual and dirge when a Doncy has died. This piece is in a form reminiscent of a 21st century take on a Baroque fugue. In the middle there is a big climax where the dead Doncy is thrown into a huge fiery pit that consumes them. This dramatic ritual is followed by two approximately 6 second long silences. There are other moments of silence in this piece as well. The silences in this dirge are as important and a part of the music as the notes I wrote; the Doncys use silence to honor the Doncy who has died.

Performances: June 13, 2022 premiere, Benaroya Hall, Seattle Symphony musicians, conductor Lee Mills.

Springtime Frogs

Info: Composition finished 2020, 2 min 30 sec, for violin and piano and string orchestra and piano.

Program notes: Frogs that live in a stream near Mount Rainier wake to a spring morning after a long winter. They are enjoying the day when a coyote tries to eat them! They soon outhop/swim it and spend the rest of the day swimming, catching bugs and watching the evening sunset.

Performances: June 4, 2022, Symphony Tacoma, conductor Sarah Ioannides, starting at 9:20 into the video; June 20, 2021, Rachel Nesvig, violin, Jake Sele, piano.