Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hammer and Nail 2014!

I had a wonderful year being an officer of IU’s Student Composer Association. This year’s Hammer and Nail event was the culmination of a year’s worth of planning and organizing. I’m proud to be a part of such an enjoyable and energetic production. Below is my piece titled “Shorthanded” for the collaboration “Stroke of the Pen” with choreographer, Kate Anderson, and Square Peg Round Hole.

Shorthanded from Phillip on Vimeo.

Composers Circle Feature

My dance piece for the 2013 Hammer and Nail collaboration is featured on today’s Composers Circle!!

Not a Drop and some residuals

Below is an additional track to my string quartet, Lake Effect. So here is how my piece goes:
I. Glacial Remnants
residuals 1 (solo violin)
II. Not a Drop
residuals 2 (duet)
III. Surface Tension
residuals 3 (trio)
IV. Condensation

The residuals are simply leftover fragments of the previous music. Much like the water rings left on the coffee table after picking up a cold glass of water. The second track includes residuals 1 (solo), II. Not a Drop, and residuals 2 (duo).

Not a Drop was actually where I started in the piece. This movement represents drought. Not just lack of precipitation, put personal droughts we all face from time to time. When I first began the piece, I was coming out of a pretty severe creative drought… so what a nice way to get out of it by writing a hefty string quartet… ?

I. Glacial Remnants

-residuals 1 (solo), II. Not a Drop, -residuals 2 (duo)

More to come!

Lake Effect

I recently had a performance of my string quartet titled Lake Effect. Below is the first movement titled “Glacial Remnants.” or AKA fun with harmonics. The movement starts with a monolithic chord which disintegrates into smaller particles… much like our remaining glaciers. But as you may guess, the movement depicts glaciers carving into the earth, leaving behind five stunning lakes.

The entire piece is in four movements with three interludes… all played without breaks. Take that, standard multi-movement format.

sixth species ensemble

The debut performance of the sixth species ensemble was a success!  I’m looking forward to what next semester has in store for us.  I hope to do some cool new musicy things like themed concerts with lighting effects.


Since Dans les Nuages has been performed in its entirety, I will post it for your listening pleasures:

I. “When We Were Young”

II. “We Shifted”

III. “Cloud Breath”

The UNL Chamber Music Institute.

My MSU composition colleagues and I have made a pact to produce at least one blog per week on our personal websites.  Occasionally we will then post our personal blogs on other blogs, such as the MSU composition website.  Someone made the point that there is no point in having a blog-style website unless you are producing new material regularly.  I’ve been incredibly guilty of not doing much in terms of blogging, or keeping my website up to date.  So this year, I’m committed to producing at least a short blog once a week.

This summer, I was one of six composers nationally to participate in the UNL Chamber Music Institute.  This was the first time I’ve ever applied to a summer program like this as a composer.  For this institute, each chamber group participating is paired with a composer… the composer writes a piece for the group and the group has three days to rehearse and perform it in concert.  During this week-long institute, the composers had a daily masterclass, and attended masterclasses about chamber music performance and entrepreneurial led by the members of the Chiara String Quartet.  Additionally, the composers had daily rehearsals with their assigned groups.

I was assigned to write for the Quintessential Winds, a wind quintet based in Long Beach, CA.  I’ve been in this kick to use old poetry that I have written years ago to drum up inspiration for composing.  I found an old poem titled “Looming” for the first movement of the piece.


the dyspeptic looming clouds
stumble over your every word
from your ginger lips
stacked precisely
but the careless sting
from frozen red (cheeks
and) ears linger

The first movement started with the pitch center “A” and two simple melodic fragments.  From there the long sustained sounds went through series of color shifts, while solo melodic passages interweave within the texture.  My current composition teacher described the movement as “organic.”  I think that this single word is very accurate in portraying the music.

The second movement was a result of the first movement.  I wanted to write a contrasting movement that featured more metric drive and ensemble playing.  The harmonic language is based on a synthetic scale I constructed using 8 pitches, and an additional synthetic scale based on the original. After I wrote the music, I used the music to inspire a poem.

A Silver Strand
A silver strand of words
extrudes itself from clinched teeth
out of order, in any order
flits around tenses,
wraps around tense fingers and
curls off a sunken brow.
on an impatient shoulder it rests.
interrupted by jagged punctuations the
strand meteorically dashes to dangle
heedlessly on the tendrils of the sun.

After I finished, I found it appropriate to title the work “Two Poems for Wind Quintet.”

The institute was a fantastic experience!  I hope to be able to do more institutes in the future.  The performance opportunity was great, but even greater was the networking and bridge building with the other composers and performing groups.  This experience led to a commission of a nonet composed of the Quintessential Winds and the Phoenix based Tetra String Quartet.  This piece will be written by January and premiered in L.A. sometime in February of 2011.

Program Notes to My Recital

I have uploaded my performance of “This Staggering Night” under the Audio Samples tab.  Feel free to listen!

Upcoming Recital

I’m currently working on putting together a split saxophone/composition recital, which is to be held in late March.  The concept of this recital is to present a collection of new music that includes a softer and more subtle side of modern music.  Much of the music will be nuanced by soft dynamics and effects with occasional loud bursts of sound.  Currently, I’m working on marimba and sax duet concept piece that will be titled “this staggering night,” which I will also serve as the name of the recital.  So far, there will be five pieces (hopefully) on the concert.

Here is the program in the works:

Ryo Noda, Mai for solo alto saxophone

Rosse, Le Frene Egare for solo alto saxophone

Sink, Mindnosis, electronic work

Scelsi, Tres Pezzi for tenor saxophone (or soprano)

Sink, Improvisation Machina for improvised percussion and interactive electronics.

Sink, This Staggering Night for marimba and alto sax

Detroit Symphony Reading

December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays to all!  I had some recent success by winning a composition competition at Michigan State.  The winners get to have their music read and recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in late January.

My piece that was selected is titled “County Cork,” and is inspired by a study abroad trip in Ireland I took in 2004.  During the trip, I studied traditional Irish music on the tin whistle and elbow pipes.  Since then, I never used my experience in Ireland in my compositions.  I tended to stay away from Irish material, simply because it has been done many many times, and done very poorly by composers.  I attempted to capture a more authentic sound, while painting a picture of my experience in Ireland.  I used all the 20th century sounds I enjoy using, while continuously exploring new sounds.


Happy New Year!



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