July 2018

The summer of 2018 has been a summer of arranging scores. I arranged a work originally for saxophone quartet, Slant of Light, for piano solo. The new piano version of the work was premiered in July 2018 by Marina Chamasyan on her solo piano recital, UMBRA, which she will record to CD in the coming months. The piano version of this work was very well received, and already other performances are being scheduled. I am also arranging (transposing, really--which is no easy task, even given Finale's powerful capabilities) the aria I long for Thy Salvation, O Lord, for contertenor Gus Mercante in advance of his recitals in Wilmington, DE and Alexandria, VA. Additionally, I will be working with the group Vox Futura on a recording on the Parma Recordings label of my setting of Ave Maria. The recording will have national distribution of the physical product and worldwide distribution of the digital product through the classical music label Naxos. I am especially excited about this recording endeavor and the exposure it will give to my music. 

I spent several months, from the end of 2016 through March, 2017 preparing scores for a full concert of my works which is was held on April 1, 2017 at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. I arranged a Pastorale and Three Arias from my Christmas oratiorio, Welcome to Thy World, O King for chamber ensemble and vocalists, and several choral works for string quartet and other chamber ensembles. Sarah Kim, violinist and violist, organized the concert, which also included several choral works and other chamber music works.

My Sicilienne for viola and piano was premiered in April, 2016 at on the Concerts at Saint Luke's series (Saint Luke's Episcopal Church, Alexandria, Virginia) by violist Eric Costantino. A few years back I had started a choral piece on a boat song text; I put that piece aside, and some ideas from that piece have now made it into this instrumental work. The piece is impressionistic in nature, with unapologetic nods to Fauré, Debussy and Poulenc.

During the summer of 2015, I completed four new choral works, SATB a cappella, none of which I had planned to write.  Three of these presented themselves at the end of July and the beginning of August in quick succession.  The fourth I wrote at the beginning of September. The first of these is a setting of the Ave Maria; the second is a setting of the Blake poem The Lamb; the third is a setting of Ubi Caritas; the fourth is a setting of Adam lay ybounden.  I am so pleased with each of these.  They are short works, but, I think, effective.  They are not simple, but they are quite accessible to a well-trained choir or chorus.  They are appropriate for both church and concert use. Samples of these four new pieces are posted on the website. A recording of the Ave Maria is also posted on the website.

In June of 2015, I completed a commission for the Washington Saxophone Quartet.  The piece is about 4 1/2 minutes in length, entitled Slant of Light.  It was premiered at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in January 2016 as part of WSQ's 40th anniversary season.  The title of the piece is taken from and Emily Dickinson poem:  There's a certain Slant of light/Winter Afternoons.  But the music in no way reflects the poem, but rather, it portrays the gentleness of early morning or late afternoon light.  As inspiration, I have referenced a photograph by James Steele called "Sturbridge Window".  I love the way the light angles through the panes of the New England church window to create interesting geometries.

Gloria Sussman ("Sonata di Gloria") and her sister have commissioned me to write an organ prelude on a hymn for which their grandfather, Haig Yardumian, wrote the hymn text.  The hymn, I Have Searched, O Lord my God, is taken from the Armenian Protestant hymnal.  I am struck by the "American" quality of the tune.  I have recently encountered the suite from Virgil Thomson's "The Mother of Us All"; I admire the simplicity of the orchestral hymn settings, and in particular, the clarity of the orchestration.  From this I have derived inspiration for the organ prelude, which is a sequence of "verses" variously set, ending (I think) with a simple statement of the hymn tune harmonized almost like the hymnal version, but with added tones.  I expect to complete the piece by the summer of 2016.

In the summer of 2015 I began re-creating parts of scores that I lost when my home flooded in 2006.  I am especially excited about bringing back two excerpts from my Christmas oratorio.  The first of these is an aria for tenor and piano, "I long/The Almighty will sustain you".  The text is from the Hebrew Scriptures, and as such, the piece is suitable for performance during both Jewish and Christian (advent) services.    I have always been fond of this aria, and I hope that it might find its way onto recital programs that are not necessarily seasonal in nature.  I have posted the complete score of this on the website under "Choral/Vocal score samples".

The other excerpt, O Jesu, mi dulcissime, was originally written with an accompaniment (to which I am still partial), but I have decided to make an a cappella setting of this excerpt, which I think will be equally--if not more--effective.  The text is a medieval Christmas poem of anonymous origin that alternates with a setting of the plainsong tune, "Of the Father's Love Begotten".  The ensemble is choir SATB with SATB soli.  I think it would sound really lovely one to a part, and I'm hoping to interest some chamber vocal ensembles in the piece.  Length is about six minutes.  In the context of the oratorio, it is the concluding section.  The soli parts are especially florid, in contrast with the simplicity of the choir parts.  The reconstruction of the piece is a bit of a project, and I am hoping to complete it in the summer of 2016.

I'm also hoping to arrange the Three Shakespeare Sonnets (originally TTBB) for women's chorus SSAA.

Other projects:  I have begun to sketch a flute sonata, and am toying with the idea of some dances for cello and piano

Thanks for your interest, and thanks for stopping by.