Videos from February’s Music Today Festival

I am still alive and active! Barely.

As I had two recitals last month to fulfill my academic obligations, it has taken me a while to get back to the real work of being a composer, which is, as far as I can tell, composing and self-promotion.

While I get myself ready for composing, here is some self-promotion in the form of three videos from performances that I received at the Music Today Festival in February and March.

The first is the TaiHei Ensemble‘s performance of an aria from the opera that I’m working on (with the working title ONODA) in collaboration with librettist Katherine Hollander. Rebecca Stuhlbarg, mezzo-soprano guest artist, gave a wonderful performance of the quirky self-introduction of Suzuki.


Suzuki’s Song on Vimeo.

When I was a babe
they put me in a box.
They said I was a key
and the whole world was a lock.
I tumbled in the lock,
a babe no more than two,
I opened up the door
and I went through.

La, la, la,
la, la, la!
I’m looking for a yeti
and a panda.
La, la, la,
la, la, la!
A yeti, a panda,
and Hiroo Onoda.
A yeti, a panda,
and Hiroo Onoda.

When I was a child
they put me in a school.
They sat me down in silence
and they told me all the rules.
They thought they had me then,
all hooked up like a trout.
I spat out the bait
and I swam out.

La, la, la,
la, la, la!
I’m looking for a yeti
and a panda.
La, la, la,
la, la, la!
A yeti, a panda,
and Hiroo Onoda.
A yeti, a panda,
and Hiroo Onoda.

When I was a soul
they put me in a form.
They gave me this body
so I could keep warm.
I’ll ramble and I’ll dance
while I have breath
and when my nighttime comes
I’ll ramble right through death.

La, la, la,
la, la, la!
I’m looking for a yeti
and a panda.
La, la, la,
la, la, la!
A yeti, a panda,
and Hiroo Onoda.
A yeti, a panda,
and Hiroo Onoda.

Next is ECCE‘s performance of the revised version of my piece, “tonbo,” originally written for Santa Cruz’s New Music Works in 2006, but considerably revised and improved for this new performance.


tonbo (2011) on Vimeo.

It’s been wonderful to have a chance to revisit a piece that I wrote five years ago, especially since I’ve realized that this is probably the earliest piece of my acoustic music that I don’t simply consider a “student work.” Over these five years, though, I have learned quite a bit more about notation and orchestration, so it’s been fun working to preserve the more youthful (naive?) “voice” of the piece, while also bringing up its technical level.

“tonbo” (from the Japanese for “dragonfly”), composed after I returned from my first three years in Japan, is one of my first attempts to blend Japanese folk music into the Western concert tradition. While writing the piece, my mind was filled with the image of a dragonfly, the ubiquitous symbol of late summer in Japan, and, in the opening melody, I try to capture the quick yet uneven flight of the insect.

Finally, the improvisation based group, Loaded Dice’s, performance of my piece Everybody on the one, with scores created in collaboration with visual artist Christopher Hoover.


Everybody on the One on Vimeo.

I’ve been interested in George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic for many years, and I was deeply impressed recently when watching a documentary about the group by the fact that they worked hard to maintain a unified art concept with their music, live stage show, and album art. I was inspired to team up with my friend, visual artist / MD Christopher Hoover to create a tribute to the group that attempts to bring to bring the music and philosophy of P-Funk into the realm of aleatoric concert music.

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We have art in order not to die of the truth.

-Friedrich Nietzsche