Current Projects and Selected Works

Thoughts and Prayers

March 1, 2023. Solo B-flat Trumpet. 

Commissioned by a consortium led by Dr. Anne McNamarra. 

hello world

Upcoming modular work for winds, percussion, and electronics.

through the night, dark and drear

through the night, dark and drear is a reimagining of Schubert's The Erlkonig for winds, perucssion, and electronics. Through a unique, modular approach to the wind ensemble, through the night is a novel retelling of the classic cautionary tale, however this time the tale can be experienced from the traditional perspective shared by the father and son, or entirely from the perspective of the Erlkonig itself...or somewhere in between

Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Martin Seggelke, Conductor

house plants in terracotta pots

for winds and percussion 

The plants we fill our houses with are beautiful in their simplicity, and simply beautiful in their complexity.This music comes from my sincere desire to create art that, like house plants , does a thing and does it well. A simple statement of something simply thought.

Score and Parts (digital): $100 

the softest breath 

Commissioned by Andrew Chybowski and the Pittsburg State University Wind Ensemble. 

the softest breath was written to memorialize the music and teaching of David Maslanka. David was a tremendously important artist to many, myself included, and I was lucky enough to have spent several weeks with him and his family at his ranch in Missoula, Montana. During these visits, I would spend the morning writing, either in his studio if he was out running errands or doing chores, or in a practice room at the University of Montana music building. 

David did not give me much direction for these composing sessions, other than to write, and spend time with traditional four-part texture. Composing in this strict style, derivative of Bach, was at the core of David’s practice. To him, it was meditative, pure, simple, and perfect. To me, as a young student, it was an assignment: restrictive, prescribed, purposeful. 

When David passed away suddenly in 2017, I didn’t know what to do. It felt right to pay homage to his memory by making something, but nothing felt correct. In truth, I started the process of creating what has become the softest breath many, many times. Each time, there was a block. What I was trying to make happen did not want to happen. It wasn’t until I began the piece with the process David taught me so many years ago in Montana that, finally, the music poured out. 

the softest breath is a pastiche, written in a quasi-Maslanka style, with several subtle quotations and references to many of his works laced throughout. It is a synthesis of his teachings through his music and how they have helped create my voice as a composer. There is a brief chorale at the close, echoing so many of David’s works and reminiscent of my time writing in his studio in Missoula, to remind me to continually center on the meditative, the pure, and the beautiful perfection of the simplest, softest moments in life.

Score and Parts (digital): $100 

Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Enseble, Dan Belongia, Conductor

Illinois State University, Stephen Steele, Conductor

The Golden Gray

for winds and percussion 

I have a memory of an early morning storm, slowly moving over a field of harvest ready corn. The morning sun, still visible to the east, shone down across the field making the yellow and brown crops shine bright gold. The contrast between the dark, purple storm and vibrant, shimmering field was staggering. Separate, the two elements are iconic, powerful. But together, they are a beautiful balance of bitter and sweet, dark and light, life and death. The Golden Gray is an exploration of this balance and ultimately, a celebration of black and white, sweet and sour, beginnings and endings.

Score and Parts (digital): $85 

Book of the Dead 

The Book of the Dead ostensibly depicts the path of a soul through the Egyptian afterlife. Each movement is representative of one of the “spells” contained within the ancient Book of the Dead. “All the evil upon me has been removed” represents the cleansing power of death and the moment of passing into the afterlife. “Guarding against the loss of heart” captures the struggle to maintain self-identity amongst the confusion and terror of the afterlife. “Protecting against being devoured by servants of Osiris” represents the physical manifestation of terror and struggle. “The Weighing of the Heart” is the final judgment. Was the life lived worthy of eternal rest and comfort?

The narrative structure of the piece follows this closely and can be heard as somewhat programmatic; the saxophonist is the lost soul, struggling to overcome the forces that seek to devour, dement and consume.

As a young composer, the idea of being overwhelmed by the constant inundation of sound, and by the pressures of being a professional, is quite terrifying. What does it mean to be me? This piece, in a big way, is about that. “Guarding against the loss of heart” is a collection of quotations (there are dozens of quotations in movement two alone – from both the classical and “pop” traditions – see if you can identify them all!) and is representative of this very thing. I imagine myself as the lost soul stepping into the new, terrifying world, being pulled at in each direction by forces (in this case, musical quotations), trying to sway me from my path. The aggregate is chaotic, confusing, quirky, disturbing. It is hard to keep focus and direction.

Moonlight Sonata continually returns across all four movements at moments of repose. It serves to unify the entire composition, while also giving the soloist a place of solace and rest. One of my earliest musical memories is of this piece. To me it is music and emotion at a very fundamental level and still is a place of comfort and stability in my life.

Score and Parts (digital): $200

Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Stephen Steele, Conductor, Paul Nolen, Soprano Saxophone

Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Stephen Steele, Conductor

Seeking, Seeking

for winds and percussion 

I have written Seeking, Seeking at a time of great, wonderful, scary, and fascinating change.  However, throughout this turbulent period I have found solace in the fact that what you are seeking is also seeking you.  This beautiful, inevitable dichotomy is represented by the two contrasting thematic groups which are constantly juxtaposed which each other, and which are always looking to find their place of rest. 

Score and Parts (digital): Free! 

thin, blue smoke 

Ostensibly, this is ritual music. The musical rhetoric is chant-like: contemplative, repetitive, insistent.

At its core, however, this music is (if music can even be) about BBQ. The ideal of thin, blue smoke is at the center of a successful day of smoking foods. If you can coax your grill to produce gentle wisps of pale blueness, you are on the road to flavor town.

As an avid food smoker, I love the process of making good BBQ. It is an all day affair that requires exacting precision and patience. This smokey ritual conjures up images of past rites never experienced or long since forgotten.

And at the end you get delicious food!

Part (digital): Free! 

Angelo Favis, Guitar