Overture Noir is an homage to the sort of music 1930s and 1940s émigré Hollywood composers wrote, and utilizes a range of studio orchestra colors from that time period. It is a small, rather condensed set of variations based on a jazz ballad I wrote two years ago while traveling south on I-5 (I was not behind the wheel at the time). I later appropriated this tune as the basis for the orchestra music. About three minutes into the piece, the ballad itself is presented “diegetically” by an offstage jazz group, while the onstage orchestra emulates the pops and hisses of a phonograph. In this piece, I’ve also played with different kinds of string vibrato. There was a tradition, particularly at 20th Century Fox, of writing soaring string passages played with a lot of vibrato. It’s an iconic and very recognizable sound. There are several references within the piece to specific orchestral works—some are fairly apparent, while others are buried within the textures. Overture Noir is dedicated to my father, and was premiered by UCLA Philharmonia November 10, 2016 on my doctoral conducting recital.
I wrote Votive in memory of my grandmother, Patricia Woods, who passed away two years ago. It’s not really an elegy or a lament, but a reflection on the time in which she was dying. The solo violin plays a vocal role, recollecting and sorting, while clouds of sound hover through different sections of the orchestra. There are references to pieces I’d been studying or conducting at the time of her illness, and one resonates in particular with Cornwall, where she spent the past decade. On a purely compositional level, Votive provided opportunities to write spacious, uncluttered music. Votive was premiered by the Eastman Graduate Composers’ Sinfonietta, in 2010. This revised version was performed in January, 2012, by Eastman Musica Nova, and features Anyango Yarbo-Deavenport playing the violin solos.
Chamber Concerto for Two Violins (2007)