NEW RECORDING! Sax Quartet “McNeil” (2010)

Sax Quartet “McNeil” (2010)
for A(A)TTB Saxophone Quartet, Grade 4
Approximate Duration: 3:30+
Premiered on September 25, 2010 by the McNeil High School Saxophone Ensemble at the McNeil High School Band’s 1st Annual Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser, St. Phillips UMC.

Below is a recording of the MHS Sax Ensemble from December 2010 featuring Lead Alto soloist Jared Beu:

Program Notes

“McNeil” was written for the McNeil High School Saxophone Ensemble based on the bass line by (at the time) McNeil Senior “Jimbo” Brand. The piece switches between Funk and Latin styles and features an 48-bar open solo section. Originally for one alto, two tenors and one baritone, the piece also includes an optional 2nd Alto that doubles the 2nd Tenor.

NEW! Trombone Quartet

Two Moods (2011) for Four Trombones
for Trombone Quartet
Approximate Duration: 4:45

Below is a midi demo from Finale:

Program Notes

“Two Moods” for Four Trombones was written for my friend and trombonist Jake Johnson (McNeil High School class of 2011). For months he pressured me to write him a trombone quartet with a  jazzy and contemporary sound (and a bass line) and in February if 2011 I finally agreed, telling him I’d have it done by the beginning of April. After blowing off the project until around the time I told him I would have it completed, I spent a few weeks madly trying to compose his piece while buying time with lame excuses.

Due to the situation, I took a somewhat stream of consciousness approach in the writing that I had never tried before. I developed some thematic material and a general blueprint of the progression of the piece (which was basically only slow, then fast) and set off writing whatever came to mind.

The first draft of the piece was completed on April 14, 2011 (only 2 weeks late…). The final product is a single movement piece split into 2 distinct slow and fast parts. The music contains both contemporary classical and jazz elements (including a quasi swing feel in the fast part and a funky bass line).

Etude No. 1 (2009) for Solo Piano

Etude No. 1
for Solo Piano
Approximate Duration: 5:30

Program Notes

Etude No. 1 is the first piece I composed after taking a 4 year break from composing from 2005-2008. This piece was an experiment with minimalism and quintal harmony. Due to the repetitive nature of conflicting rhythms between the hands and difficult left hand passages up and down the keyboard (and with lack of a better title) I called the piece “Etude No. 1”.

Etude No. 1 is part of a collection of etudes for the piano called Three Pieces for Piano (To be completed in Fall 2011).

An video recording of the piece can be heard below:

NEW AUDIO! Reflections (2009) for Symphonic Band

Reflections (2009)
for Symphonic Band
Approximate Duration: 7:00
World premiere on February 10, 2010, at the Round Rock Independent School District Performing Arts Center
by the McNeil High School Wind Ensemble, conducted by Mr. Travis Ancelet.

Below is a midi demo from Finale (with no non-pitched percussion):

Program Notes

While my musical tastes are diverse, I have special interest in wind band literature. Having been almost moved to tears by some of the beautiful and powerful music I have heard written for bands and wind ensembles, it has been a goal in my composing to be able to write with lyricism and strong emotion while still retaining the ability to keep the aspects of the music diverse.

Being a student in band with a love for the literature, I wrote “Reflections” as my first complete piece for band. I reflected on the fundamental elements of my favorite music and used that to create my own material and, with much thought and consideration, created the main melody and devised a blueprint for how I wanted the piece to progress. In orchestrating the piece, I showcased certain instruments such as the clarinet, horn, and euphonium due to their soulful, yet mellow tones.

Toward Sky’s End (2010) for Orchestra

Toward Sky’s End (2010)
for Orchestra
Approximate Duration: 5:30
World premiere on on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at the Round Rock Independent School District Performing Arts Center by the Austin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Mairs.

Program Notes

“Toward Sky’s End” was composed as an entry in the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s 1st Annual Young Composers Competition where it was selected as a winning entry. It is the first piece I have written for orchestra.

The composition process began with two motifs. From playing around with those two motifs, in somewhat of an epiphany I came up with a main melody and a detailed plan of how the entire piece would play out. I made it a goal to try to write something that built steadily and had a strong direction from the first note to the last. In writing, I wanted to combine emotion and lyricism with moderately fast tempos and exciting moments to try to create something that was captivating and broadly appealing. I completed the piece on October 31, 2010 (at 3:21 AM) with a result exactly as I had imaged it from the beginning.

Once I began the editing process, I realized that I had no title for the piece. People told me to think about what I saw in my mind while I was writing and to title the piece about that, but what I told them was that I saw nothing – the only thing in my mind while I wrote was sounds, not images. If I was going to take that route in titling though, I would have to ask others what they imagined when they heard the piece. I tried it, and strangely, almost unanimously people imagined “soaring through the sky”. Though slow to embrace that idea, with help I titled the piece “Toward Sky’s End” – a title that combined both the recurring image of flying with the sense of direction that I wanted to portray in the writing.

“Toward Sky’s End” is was premiered on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at the Round Rock Independent School District Performing Arts Center by the Austin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Mairs. Since it’s premier, it has been performed numerous times by the  ASO and was first publicly performed at the Long Center for the Performing Arts on April 20, 2011 under the direction of Maestro Peter Bay.

An video excerpt of the Austin Symphony rehearsing the piece can be heard below: