On Sunday, May 22nd, I performed a few of my compositions scored for voice, clarinet, piano, electric bass, and drums for a concert in Ham Hall at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I consider these versions remixes, since the original versions were written for a different instrumentation, and also modified in various ways in order to create versions suitable for this instrumentation in a live show context. It meant a lot to me to have this opportunity to showcase a 15-minute set, and grateful to the musicians I asked for joining me to make this happen: Cory Tiffin (clarinet), Jason Corpuz (piano), Summer Kodama (electric bass), and Jeremy Klewicki (drums).
Excerpt from Burning Light (remix); Video recording by Joshua Sjoen
Excerpt from Familiar Stranger (remix); Video recording by Joshua Sjoen
Saturday April 23rd and Sunday April 24th, I worked with people of all ages to create music on the spot in reaction to the historical Las Vegas Signs in the Neon Museum. I began with an interactive composition I wrote that involved teaching rhythms to separate groups, giving people percussion instruments to beat out the rhythms, and then groove with the parts I wrote out for piano, clarinet, and voice. Following that exercise, they broke out into small groups and chose a sign in the gallery. Their task was to create a composition together in reaction to the visual elements. Many of the groups used words and set them to a rhythm, and some people even added choreography and song. Closing each session, pianist Jae Ahn-Benton, clarinetist Ivan-Ivanov and percussionist Manny Gamazo played the shortened remix version of my composition Moments Shared, Moments Lost. It was such a fun event, and was a pleasure to engage with so many people (both locals and tourists) in the area! I hope to have the opportunity to do many more programs like this in the future!
My composition “Moments Shared, Moments Lost” (2016) was premiered by clarinetist Ivan Ivanov and Jae Ahn-Benton on organ at Doc Rando Hall, University of Nevada, Las Vegas on April 18th, 2016. Here are some photos from the premiere! Composers Augusta Read Thomas and Bernard Rands were in residence at UNLV that weekend, and it was a fun and inspiring few days!
On Sunday, April 3rd, the UNLV Wind Orchestra under the direction of Tom Leslie recorded my composition Bordello Nights with the jazz soloists Eric Marienthal, Colin Gordon, Mitch Forman, Kevin Axt, and Bernie Dresel. The ensemble sounded fantastic, and cannot wait to hear the finished product next year!
My new composition 898 Hildegard for chorus and orchestra commissioned by the Genesee Valley Orchestra and Chorus will be premiered first in Rochester, NY, and then will receive its Southwest premiere by the Las Vegas Philharmonic April 2017.
898 Hildegard was commissioned to honor the GVOC’s founder, Sister Virginia Hogan, through the verse and melody of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). The title is borrowed from the name of a planetoid in our solar system, 898 Hildegard, thus connecting civilization’s ancient cosmos with the one that it continues to discover. I used excerpts from her chants “O Vis Eternitatis” and “O Gloriosissimi Lux Vivens Angeli,” in which the text is about eternity and angels. Then, I listened to the recordings of these chants on the Hildegard Society website (www.hildegard-society.org), and transcribed the performances in order to learn how these chants are presented rhythmically. After studying the intricate details of both chants, I then intertwined the original chant material with my own variations throughout, melding it together into a through-composed composition that not only displays my compositional style, but also highlights these beautiful chants by Hildegard von Bingen.
Clarinetist Cory Tiffin premiered my composition Reste at the UNLV Nextet Concert March 14, 2016. Joining him was Luigi Ng on vibraphone, and Jae Ahn-Benton on piano. What a beautiful performance!
The French definition of reste is “to remain or stay.” It is fascinating how we may not remember activities or conversations we had yesterday or even minutes prior, but we would recall vivid details about specific events in the more distant past. As we recall these events more than once, did some details change over time, and if so, how real is this memory? I came across this quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on the concept of Memory: “The very idea of truth in memory, and the attendant possibility of error, implies that we are naturally realists about the past: but this fact about us doesn’t dictate answers to questions about just how, or how often, we do remember past truly.” Relating this to my composition, the eight-note motive first played in the vibraphone and piano that continually return throughout represent the objective memories that remain with us over time that may or may not help shape our identity (i.e., the actual event versus our own perception/interpretation). The clarinet part contains fragments from the motive along with other melodic material that shapes the lines, representing the subjectivity we have when recalling past events, and how our own interpretations can creep in and re-shape the memories we have over time.
Reste will also be performed at the New Music at the Green Mill Series in Chicago May 1, 2016.