In the Midst (2013) for Solo Piano
Duration: 7 minutes
Commission: Van Cliburn Tribute Concert
Premiere: Stanislav Ioudenitch, piana, Van Cliburn Tribute Concert April 4, 2014
Digital Score $10.00
Program Note: There is a long tradition of composers writing pieces for specific occasions and in remembrance of great artists. Undoubtedly, there will be many compositions written and dedicated to the memory of Van Cliburn and I am honored to be able to contribute “In the Midst.”
When I first thought about what kind of piece this would be, a mental image appeared that stayed with me throughout my writing process. I imagined myself in the concert hall following Van Cliburn’s legendary performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 – the resonance of the concerto lingering, the chords ringing in the air, the emotional energy expanded by Van Cliburn still palpable and the legacy of the performance imprinted onto the hall, the audience and history. As I was creating my own soundworld, I found myself in the midst of this energetic reverberance, filtering musical fragments of the concerto through my own compositional voice and reimagining the music as a tribute to all the great performances that leave behind an emotional imprint on the listener. “In the Midst” is a remembrance, a celebration and an appreciation of an extraordinary musical life forever in our midst. “In the Midst” was written for Van Cliburn Piano Competition gold medalist Stanislav Ioudenitch and premiered at the Van Cliburn Tribute Concert.
Spur of the Moment (2000) for Solo Piano
Duration: 5 min
Commission: Leah Hokanson, piano
Premiere: Leah Hokanson, piano; January 25, 2002; Kansas City, MO
Program Note: “Spur of the Moment” (2000) was written for pianist Leah Hokanson. The piece consists of five short movements, each capturing a particular mood or moment I happened to be in while writing the piece. Instead of telling the pianist and the audience which movement stands for which mood, I decided to label them simply with the numbers one through five, letting the music speak for itself.
Unus Mundus (2017) for Solo Piano
Duration: 6 minutes
Commission: Eunmi Ko in Memory of Isang Yun
Premiere: Eunmi Ko, piano, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. May 11, 2017
Program Notes: Unus Mundus was commissioned by pianist Eunmi Ko for the centennial celebration of Isang Yun’s birth. I have long been fascinated by Yun’s compositional technique of “Hauptton” (main tone) which one can hear in his piano solo piece Interludium A, with pitch-class “A” being a centering main tone. Every time I listened to Interludium A, I was struck by a section about five minutes into the composition where he indicates a meter for the first time. This section starts with a disarming B-Major triad, which gets reiterated the line below and suffused with quartal harmonies. I decided that this moment would become the soundworld that I would inhabit for my composition. I also felt that taking a moment in time as my inspiration aligns with Taoist philosophy, a strong influence on Yun’s music, in which the part is the whole and the whole is the part, and in which the dark and the light are intertwined with each other. I believe that music in its deepest expression has the power to fuse opposites to create oneness that cannot be fragmented, because as Carl Jung says “everything divided and different belongs to one and the same world.” This concept, which Jung called “Unus Mundus” from Latin “One World,” seemed like a fitting title for a composition honoring Isang Yun.
Zwischenraum (2016) for Solo B-Flat Clarinet
Duration: 5 minutes
Commission: Stephanie Zelnick
Premiere: Wunsch New Music Festival, Stephanie Zelnick, clarinet
Program Notes: Zwischenraum (2016) was inspired by one of my meditative practices, where the goal is to focus on the space between thoughts. This is a very powerful practice and one quickly realizes how short that space is and how hard it can be to still the mind and bring focus to that space between (Zwischenraum). For myself one of the times that I experience glimpses of this stillness is during moments of composing, when the music seems to effortlessly flow. For performers, I believe, those moments happen in performance where the mind is not thinking but rather in a flow of being in the moment. This piece is intended as a kind of on-stage centering piece for the performer and starts with breathing which is such a vital part of music and living. It also invites the audience to settle into the concert space and bring awareness to the space between thoughts. Zwischenraum was written for clarinetist Stephanie Zelnick.
Performance Note: Ideally, this piece is performed as a concert opener to allow the performer and audience to settle into the concert. To strip away the wall between the performer and audience even further (which can sometimes be presented by a music stand) it is also recommended that the piece be performed from memory with soft lighting as close to the audience as is comfortable.