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Aston Magna (2014)

Small Ensemble, 12'

Commissioned by Lee Elman to celebrate the Aston Magna Estate, for world premiere performances by Aston Magna Music Festival on July 17, 18 and 19, 2014. Aston Magna was written to celebrate the history of the house and estate of the same name in Great Barrington, MA. The piece unfolds over five movements, thxe outer […]

Balance Problems (2013)

Chamber Ensemble, 8'

Commissioned by Linda and Stuart Nelson for yMusic.

Big Time (2012)

for Peter Sanders & the Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival
String Quartet & Percussion, 9'

Commissioned by the Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival in celebration of their 20th anniversary in 2012. The first performance took place on 25 August 2012 at Chandler Music Hall, Randolph, Vermont, U.S.A., given by LARK Quartet and Yousif Sheronick (percussion).

By All Means (2004)

Chamber orchestra, 9'

By All Means was commissioned by the Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music in celebration of their concurrent anniversaries. Each of the six commissioned works was meant to respond in some way to Webern’s Concerto for 9 Instruments, op. 24. My own response to this curious guideline was to focus on the opening […]

Clear Music (2003)

for Wendy Law
Cello, harp, celeste, 9'

Muhly writes, “Clear Music is an extended exploration of a single measure in John Taverner’s (1490-1545) motet Mater Christi Sanctissima. I have structured the piece into a series of peaks featuring the highest registers of the treble voice ““ here, the cello. I remember very vividly performing this piece and being struck by how distant […]

Common Ground (2008)

The Claremont Trio
Pno, Vln, Vcl, 9'

Common Ground employs three different repetitive techniques. The first third of the piece is a cycle of chords of expanding and contracting length, with the violin and cello trading agitated little lines. The second is a pastoral obsession over essentially one chord: light changing over a field. Here, the cello leads, and the violin and […]

Compare Notes (2012)

Violin & Piano, 10'

Commissioned by the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress for Daniel Hope and Jeffrey Kahane. Compare Notes begins with a large canon between the violin and the left hand of the piano in slightly awkward rhythmic shapes, and then dissolves into a more playful traditional canon. All of this simplifies enormously into a sort […]

Diacritical Marks (2011)

Chiara Quartet
Vln, Vln, Vla, Vcl, 20'

Diacritical Marks was written for the Chiara Quartet in 2011, and is in eight short movements. I have a huge anxiety about string quartets; they are normally meant to be giant expressions of a composer’s emotional life. Here, I focused on details: a tiny dot above a letter, a tiny swivel of the bow. The […]

Doublespeak (2012)

for Philip Glass at 75
Chamber Ensemble, 10'

Commissioned by MusicNOW Festival, March 2012, Cincinnati, Ohio, for eight blackbird.

Drones & Viola (2011)

for Nadia & Thomas
Piano, Viola, 13'

Drones & Viola was written for Thomas Bartlett and Nadia Sirota in 2011. Each movement begins with either the piano or viola establishing a drone which lasts for the duration of the movement. The first bar of each movement can be quite long. The drone should remain loosely indifferent to the other part, avoiding any […]

Drones & Violin (2012)

Violin, Piano, 11'

Drones & Violin was written for Pekka Kuusisto, and was commissioned by the Muziekgebouw, Eindhoven. Each movement begins with either the piano or violin establishing a drone which lasts for the duration of the movement. The first bar of each movement can be quite long. The drone should remain loosely indifferent to the other part, […]

Drones, Variations, Ornaments (2011)

for the Crash Ensemble
Small Ensemble, 15'

Drones, Variations, Ornaments is music in constant transformation. What begins as a simple, cloud-like sequence of string chords with a trombone melody slowly transforms into an agitated perpetual motion machine of winds, guitar, percussion, and piano. The machine spits out an incessant syncopated drone on middle-C, over which a fragment of a melody in the […]

Duet No 1: Chorale Pointing Downwards (2003)

for Nadia Sirota
Viola & Cello

Duet No1: Chorale Pointing Downwards is the first in a series of short string pieces that serve as harmonic and technical studies for both composer and performers.

Far Away Songs (2012)

for Jennifer Zetlan
Soprano, String Quartet, Piano, 15'

What I like about Cavafy’s poems — and, specifically, Daniel Mendelsohn’s translations of them, is the sense of enormous distance between objects. I feel like the lines work well right next to each other as well as with enormous space between them. On Daniel’s suggestion, I set a pair of poems which are versions of […]

Fast Dances (2014)

Two Harps, 12'

This commission has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund. Fast Dances is a series of five short movements for two harps. Each movement is a sort of rhythmic étude with slowly shifting harmonies. […]

Fast Music with Folk Songs

Chamber Ensemble, 11'

Flexible Music

Eric Huebner
Chamber Ensemble, 8'

*While I’m aware that it is very difficult to produce variable dynamics on a pedal bass drum, the passages marked piano possible should be played with as much delicacy as is possible on the instrument. To that end, two bass drums may be used: one more muffled, for the softer passages, and the other left […]

Gibbons Suite (2009)

Chamber Ensemble, 11'

Commissioned by Britten Sinfonia. Orlando Gibbons! I love him so much. His cadences always drive me crazy with pleasure; when the Britten Sinfonia asked me to arrange a few anthems for small ensemble, I immediately said yes, on the condition that I could start with This is the Record of John, which is a chatty […]

How About Now (2006)

for NOW Ensemble (Alex, Sara, Mark, Peter, & Michael)
Small ensemble, 7'

I wanted the piece to feel like it comes from their preëxisting pantry of musical devices ““ a sort of thrown-together meal with close friends

How Soon (2011)

for Treble Chorus (SSAA), Flute, Clarinet, Percussion, Violin, Violoncello and Piano, 10'

How Soon? was commissioned by eighth blackbird, the Kennesaw State University School of Music, and the Anima-Young Singers of Greater Chicago. This commission was made possible by the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award presented by Chorus America and funded by the American Composers Forum. MORTIFICATION How soon doth man decay! When clothes are taken from […]

I Drink the Air Before Me (2009)

Children's Choir & Chamber Ensemble, 59'

I Drink the Air Before Me is an evening-length score for Stephen Petronio’s dance piece bearing the same name. Inasmuch as it was celebrating Stephen’s company’s 25th anniversary, the piece wanted to be big, ecstatic, and celebratory. Our initial meeting, in which we discussed the structure of the work, yielded a sketch: a giant line, […]

I Know Where Everything Is (2007)

Chamber Ensemble

Commissioned by the Seattle Chamber Players. I Know Where Everything Is is a cycle of chords in a pile. Each chord has a series of possible voicings, and a series of possible quick ornamentations. The piece starts with the most moderate of these, works through the slower, more languid variations, and then concludes energetically and […]

Look for Me (2015)

Wind Quintet, 7'

Commissioned by Het Koninklijk Concertgebouw & Calefax Reed Quintet.

Motion (2010)

for Britten Sinfonia
Clarinet, String Quartet, and Piano, Seven Minutes

Orlando Gibbons’s verse anthem See, see the Word is incarnate is one of my favorite pieces of text setting: Gibbons divides up Godfrey Goodman’s verses into solo bits for solo or coupled countertenors, who weave in and out of a texture of viols. Then, the chorus comes in at the end of each verse, like […]

Moving Parts (2012)

Organ, Clarinet, Violin, 23'

Moving Parts is the music for Benjamin Millepied’s ballet of the same name. Scored for violin, clarinet, and pipe organ, the piece is a series of rhythmic etudes. The slow movement is a very slow passacaglia, with, I hope, unexpectedly lyrical melodies in the violin. After an extended organ toccata built over a drone, a […]

Object Songs (2014)

Voice & Chamber Ensemble, 8 minutes

Object Songs (2014) are a collaboration with illustrator and author Maira Kalman, a longtime friend and source of constant inspiration and delight. These songs are a response to a room Maira curated in New York’s Cooper Hewitt Museum, as well as two books she wrote about the objects she chose to be in the room. […]

Scent Opera (2009)

Keyboard, Synth, & Tape, 17'

The Scent Opera, a strange olfactory & music collaboration that dates back to 2009, is the first release on Bedroom Community’s HVALREKI digital-series. Written by Nico Muhly & Valgeir Sigurðsson for Green Aria: A Scent Opera. ‘An opera for your nose’ by Stewart Matthew and perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. Premiered at New York’s Guggenheim Museum in […]

Slow (In Nomine in Five Parts) (2015)

Viol Consort, 8'

Commissioned by Fretwork and first performed by them on 5 February 2015 at King’s Place, London.

Slow Ground Bass with Fast Variations (2008)

Chamber Ensemble, 16'

This piece was commissioned by Isaac Mizrahi for his fashion show on 8th September 2008 at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

Step Team (2007)

Chamber Ensemble, 18:00

Stepping is a form of almost militaristic dancing involving the entire body as well as the voice. The routines are highly choreographed and precise but maintain an expressive freedom that comes out of the energy required to pull off the moves. In writing this piece for the Chicago Symphony MusicNOW, I wanted to avoid too […]

Stride (2005)

for Nancy Allen
String Quartet, 8'

Available for purchase here.

The Elements of Style (2005)

Voice & Chamber Ensemble, 26'

The Elements of Style is a song cycle written as a response to Maira Kalman’s illustrated version of Strunk and White’s manual by the same name. It was originally performed in the main reading room at the New York Public Library with a small ensemble of musicians and a larger ensemble of non-musicians playing percussion […]

The Principles of Uncertainty (2007)

Solo Counter-tenor, Violin, Cello, Piano, Banjo, 21'

I have no idea how to describe the strangeness of this song cycle; in true modern fashion, it started as a blog on the New York Times, consisting of paintings and text by Maira Kalman. Maira, a longtime friend and hero of mine, asked me to set all of the questions she asked on the […]

The Reader: Three Arrangements for Viola & Piano (2008)

vla/pno, 9'

Consists of The Egg, You Don’t Matter, The Failed Visit. Available for purchase here.

Three Songs for Tenor and Violin

Tenor, Violin, Drones, 11'

Three Songs for Tenor and Violin should technically be called Three Songs for Tenor, Violin, and Drones, as there is a two-note drone that sounds throughout the piece’s 15-minute duration. In the first part of the songs, the tenor and the violin exchange lyrical and declamatory statements. The second part is a song without words: […]

Time After Time (2003)

for Nancy Zeltsman, Sam Solomon, & Eric Hewitt
Soprano saxophone, marimba, percussion, 10'

Time After Time was written for the Yesaroun’ Duo (comprising multi-percussionist Sam Solomon & saxophonist Eric Hewitt) and marimbist Nancy Zeltsman. I set out to write a piece that was primarily energetic and rhythmically challenging enough for two percussionist and one honorary percussionist to play. The title refers to the fact that all the material […]