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Archive for March, 2010

Drowsy Maggie Dreaming was a piece that I wrote for, and in collaboration with, two good friends from Lawrence: Andrew Cashner and Katherine Moore Rush. The piece is a set of five variations on the fiddle tune “Drowsy Maggie,” which you don’t hear in full until the final movement. The overall form of the piece imitates fiddle performance practice: just as a fiddler typically starts off playing the tune simply then builds speed and ornamention, the piece starts with a simple, slow and sustained movement then builds speed with each movement. The final movement was an improvised collaboration between the three of us, and much of what you hear in it is quasi-planned out improvisation by Andrew and Katherine. The whole piece is a kind of miniature fiddle concerto with a few surprises (in the cadenza especially) along the way. I hope you enjoy listening to¬†Drowsy Maggie Dreaming.

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I wrote this piece at the request of Rebecca Dirksen, who is one of the two performers playing on this recording (Daniel Van Sickle is also performing.) The piece is for piano, two performers: one playing the keyboard and the other playing the inside of the piano. I based the music explicitly on a favorite poem of my grandfather’s, “The Night has a Thousand Eyes,” by Francis William Bourdillon.

The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
and the heart but one:
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.

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A lot has happened at Lawrence, my undergrad alma mater, since I graduated in 2004. The composition department seems to have grown a great deal, and they recently started up a handsome-looking blog of goings-on, the Lawrence Composition Blog. Incidentally, my orchestral piece Unfolding is one of the “Listen” posts, but there are other examples of work by students both current and graduated that make me proud of having gone there!

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