A Good Understanding (2005)

For Tim Brown & the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge & the Trebles of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York
SATB, trebles, percussion, organ

A Good Understanding was written for Tim Brown and the choir of Clare College, Cambridge with the generous cooperation of John Scott and the Boys of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue.

A Hudson Cycle (2005)

for Megan & Charles on their wedding

A Hudson Cycle was written as a wedding gift for two friends. This is music of longing and anticipation; losing a beautiful place, approaching a beloved person.

A Long Line (2003)

for Erik Carlson
Violin & Tape, 6'

A Long Line, for solo violin and electronics, was written for violinist Erik Carlson and was originally meant for performance as part of VisionIntoArt’s 2003 show Democrazy. The piece is built around a series of chords played by electric organ and articulated by bass clarinet and bass drum. These chords gradually shorten over the length […]

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.

Beaming Music (2002)

for Chris Thompson
Marimba, organ, 9'

Beaming Music is, at its heart, about small rhythmic cells transforming themselves into large, open chords. While this is most evident in the section immediately following the marimba solo 2/3 of the way through, the idea of something small blossoming into a huge chord pervades the piece. The title refers not only to the various […]

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).

Booklet (2008)

Solo Piano, 15'

Commissioned by Gilles Vonsattel and premiered by him on 12 October 2008 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., United States of America.

Bright Mass With Canons (2005)

for John Scott and the Choir of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York

Bright Mass with Canons was written for John Scott and the choir of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York.

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 […]

Cello Concerto (2012)

for Olly Coates
Solo Cello & Orchestra, 18'

When the Barbican asked me to write a concerto for Olly Coates and the Britten Sinfonia, I immediately started making plans. I wanted to write something formally traditional (fast-slow-fast) but with steadily developing content. The first movement is angular, the second supple, and the third motoric; there is constant progression and no looking back. The […]

Choking Man (2006)

I wrote the soundtrack to the movie Choking Man, directed by Steve Barron. It’s a really great movie, I think, and the score is very important to it, which I like, and they gave me an enormous amount of flexibility in how much music there should be and where, etc. With Dan Bora, I created […]

Chorale Prelude on Lasst uns erfreuen (2007)

for Christian Lane & the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ, Frederick, Maryland
Organ, 14'

In honour of Alison Shafer, commemorating 25 years of distinguished service.

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 […]

Confessions (2008)

Voice & Baroque Ensemble, 48'

Confessions, a collaboration between the acclaimed American composer Nico Muhly and the Faroese singer/songwriter Teitur, on October 21, 2016; the vinyl edition is due November 4. The two musicians began work on the project when Muhly was composer-in-residence at Muziekgebouw Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The songs’ lyrics were inspired by or culled from video and […]

Control (Five Landscapes for Orchestra (2015)


Commissioned by Utah Symphony in grateful tribute to Patricia A. Richards. Support provided by Wells Fargo and friends of Patricia A. Richards and the Sounds of Science Commissioning Club. Control (Five Landscapes for Orchestra) is a sequence of five episodes describing, in some way, an element of Utah’s natural environment, as well as the ways […]

Dark Sisters

Chamber Orchestra & Solo Voices, Approx. 100 minutes

When Stephen Karam and I set out to write Dark Sisters, the FLDS (The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) had been all over the news. The sect — which split from mainstream Mormonism in the early 1900’s — is very media savvy, despite the visibly anachronistic way its women speak and dress, […]

Detailed Instructions (2010)

Orchestra, 18'

Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert, Music Director as part of Contact! The New Music Series.

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 […]

Double Standard (2012)

Two Solo Percussionists and Orchestra, 16'

Commissioned by The Tromp Percussion Competition Eindhoven and Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven.

Doublespeak (2012)

for Philip Glass at 75
Chamber Ensemble, 10'

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

Drones & Piano (2010)

Piano and Tape

Commissioned by the 2010 Gilmore International Keyboard Festival with assistance from Joan K. Sharda & the New England Conservatory of Music, for pianist Bruce Brubaker.

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 on “Oh Lord, Whose Mercies Numberless” (2009)

Countertenor & Orchestra, 4' 42''

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.

Expecting the Main Things from You (2005)

commissioned by the Gabe Wiener Foundation for Judy Clurman
SATB, String Quartet, Percussion, Organ, 25'

1. I Hear 2. Interlude (A Farm Picture) 3. Poets to Come Expecting the Main Things from You begins with a series of exchanges

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 Cycles (2009)

for James McVinnie
Organ, 6'

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'

First Service (2004)

Girton & Clare Colleges, Cambridge
Choir, Organ, 8'

The Magnificat features an anxious two-note octave in the organ, nervously twitching in anticipation. The Nunc Dimittis (which is one of my favorite things written in the English language) starts slowly,

Fits & Bursts (2002)

for Richard Fisher & Jeannie Donovan Fisher
Orchestra, 6'

Fits & Bursts was commissioned by Bard College to commemorate the occasion of the naming of their new performing arts center, the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. As a piece of music designed to celebrate a site of artistic production, Fits & Bursts attempts to mimic one of the most frustrating and […]

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 […]

From Here on Out (2007)

for Benjamin Millepied

When Benjamin and I first met in Paris in 2006, he was always playing Bach. For our project with ABT, I thought I would incorporate his love of repeated chords into a set of variations on a bass line, making a simple outline for the structure of the piece (an energetic ramp with a plateau […]


Large Orchestra, 23'

Gait was commissioned by the BBC for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and first performed on 1st August 2012 at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, subsequently at Snape Maltings Concert Hall on 2nd August and at the Royal Albert Hall, London on 4th August as part of the BBC Proms 2012 season, by the National […]

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 […]

Honest Music (2002)

for Lisa Liu
Violin & pre-recorded CD

On the page, the violin part for Honest Music looks something like Terry Riley’s In C, insofar as it’s a collection of discrete, modular phrases to be recombined in “performance,” or in this case, by the electronic manipulation of the recording–but these aren’t Riley’s musical Lego blocks; most of these are long, expressive, idiomatic gestures, […]

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 […]

Hudson Preludes (2005)

for James McVinnie
Organ, 7'

I Cannot Attain Unto It (2005)

Choir, 5'

I Cannot Attain Unto It is a setting of a section of Psalm 139 arranged such that certain syllables repeat and cycle around each other. The harmonic motion of the piece is through common tones, a method in which a single note is sustained through two related or unrelated keys. The use of the repetition […]

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 […]

I Shudder to Think (2008)

Percussion Quintet, 8'

Commissioned by Scwob School of Music.

Impossible Things (2010)

Tenor, Violin, and String Orchestra, 27' 30''

Commissioned by Britten Sinfonia, Muziekcentrum Frits Philips and Tapiola Sinfonietta. Britten Sinfonia is grateful to Arts Council England for making this commission possible. PART I THE HEREAFTER (1892) I believe in the Hereafter. Material appetites or love for the real don’t beguile me. It’s not habit but instinct. The heavenly word will be added to […]

Iphegenia at Aulis (“Gweek Project”) (2005)

Alex Zachary and Emmelyn Butterfield-Rosen asked me to write an enormous amount of music for their Ancient Greek-language proudction of Iphegenia at Aulis, which they produced in association with the Columbia University Classics Department in 2005.

It Goes Without Saying (2005)

clarinet & pre-recorded CD, 9'

For a piece with such a strong electronic component, It Goes Without Saying is surprisingly organic. While the electronics include chillier, metallic noises””samples ranging from a kitchen whisk to a unique set of tiny bells””most prominent are the warm, woody sounds of a harmonium and of clicking clarinet-keys, sounds that share a certain sonic DNA […]

It Remains to be Seen (2006)

Commissioned by the Boston University Tanglewood Institute for the Boston University Tanglewood Institute 40th Anniversary Gala Concert
Orchestra, 11'

It Remains to be Seen was written for the Boston University Tanglewood Institute’s 40th Anniversary Gala in July 2006.

It’s About Time (2004)

for Sam Solomon
Solo percussion

It’s About Time has two sets of attendant notes, one by Sam, for whom it was written, and one by me.


I wrote the soundtrack to a film called Joshua, directed by George Ratliff, with Vera Farmiga, Sam Rockwell, and Jacob Kogan, (who weirdly appeared in an episode of Wonder Showzen). It is a thriller involving a small boy (who is a piano prodigy) plotting against his family; the score is a piano-based score with a […]

Keep in Touch (2005)

for Nadia Sirota
Viola & pre-recorded CD, 12'

Keep in Touch is a lament, a sort of chaconne divided up into sections by more freely-composed cadenzas for the viola.

Let the Night Perish (Job’s Curse) (2010)

Tenor & String Orchestra, 4' 26"

Commissioned by Britten Sinfonia.

Like as the Hart (2004)

SATB, Violin, Piano

Like as the Hart is my response to Herbert Howells’s famous setting of this Psalm paraphrase. I have always been obsessed with the length of Howells’s melodies and the way that the harmonies trail behind the tunes like halos. In my version, I invert this relationship, with massive elongated harmonies dragging melodic fragments behind them. […]

Look for Me (2015)

Wind Quintet, 7'

Commissioned by Het Koninklijk Concertgebouw & Calefax Reed Quintet.

Looking Forward (2012)

Picc, Flute, Oboe/Cor Anglais, Bass Clarinet in Bb, 2 Bassoon, Horn in F, 2 Trumpet in Bb, Tam-Tam, Bass Drum, SSAATTBB, Celesta, Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Violoncello, Contrabass, 6'

Looking Forward was written for the 20th anniversary of the Britten Sinfonia. and, at their request, dovetails with Henry Purcell’s setting of Psalm 102. I have chosen fragments from the same psalm to set in a harmonic landscape that alternates between drone-based diatonicism and more confusing chromaticism, stolen from Purcell’s keening and twisted vocal lines. […]

Luminous Body (2011)

Chamber Orchestra & Choir

Luminous Body is a collaboration between me and Craig Lucas, written in the period immediately following our narratively charged opera Two Boys. Luminous Body is, as a result, abstract and poetic in gesture and form. The text interpolates, among other things, stylized versions of the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and Plato; these are scrambled […]

Mixed Messages (2015)

Yannick Ne?zet-Se?guin and the Philadelphia Orchestra

Commissioned and Premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Ne?zet-Se?guin, Music Director. The first performance took place on 13 May 2015 at Verizon Hall, Philadelphia, USA.

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 […]

Notes on Andriessen, Wolfe, Ziporyn (November, 2005)

I wrote program notes for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project‘s concert featuring Andriessen’s Trilogy of the Last Day, as well as works by Julia Wolfe and Evan Ziporyn.

Notes on Minimalism (February, 2005)

I wrote program notes for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project‘s Minimalism concert in February, 2005, featuring Elena Ruehr’s Shimmer, Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 3, Steve Reich’s Tehillim, and John Adams’s Common Tones in Simple Time.

O Antiphon Preludes (2010)

for James McVinnie

Each prelude is based on each of the Seven Great O Antiphons for Advent: O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae. O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem […]

O Antiphon Preludes (2010)

Organ, 25'

Each prelude is based on each of the Seven Great O Antiphons for Advent: O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae. O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem […]

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. […]

Order of Operations (2013)

Orchestra, 9:12

Order of Operations is an orchestra piece in three large sections: fast, medium, and slow; structurally, it resists traditional symphonic structure. The first section is essentially a perpetual motion machine with hiccoughs and interruptions. The second section is an obsessive harmonic process, creeping slowly up from lower instruments to higher, but never exploring the extremes. […]

Out of the Loop (2003)

Orchestra, 15'

There are two distinct sets of material at play in Out of the Loop. The first is a clear, sterile pulsing””highly organized and mathematically informed. The second set of material (which exists primarily in the background) is a tonally and rhythmically flexible mess of sorts, involving more shimmering, aggressive and antagonistic material. For the most […]

Pater Noster (2008)

SATB and Soprano Soloist, 3'

Pater Noster is just that, a setting of the “Our Father” text. Every composer has to have one of these! This setting attempts to reference Igor Stravinsky’s unaccompanied sacred music, notably, his setting of this same text. I bought a recording of the King’s Singers singing this when I was younger, and listened to it […]

Patterns (2014)

Organ, 25'

Commissioned by the American Guild of Organists. Patterns is composed in four sections, each of which is sort of a rhythmic e?tude. The first (“Move Along”) is a perpetual motion machine with staggered and angular rhythms thrown between the pedals and the left hand. The second movement (“Palindromes”) is calmer and is centered around an […]

Pillaging Music (2005)

for Valgeir
Percussion, piano, celeste, & pre-recorded CD

Muhly names Pierre Boulez as the inspiration for Pillaging Music, and it’s easy to hear the influence of pieces like Sur-incises and Répons on this metallic piano/percussion texture

Pleasure Ground (2014)

Baritone & Orchestra, 20'

Commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and The MusicNOW Festival in honor of Louis Langre?e with support from Ann and Harry Santen. Texts compiled by Tyne Rafaeli from the writings of Frederick Law Olmsted. I have long been interested in Frederick Law Olmsted; as a New Yorker, I am surrounded by his work. More so, […]

Radiant Music (2002)

for Alice K. Dade
Flute & pre-recorded CD, 8'

Radiant Music was written for Alice K. Dade at her request for a short recital piece. The tape part is made up of several episodes of shimmering music for electric flutes, dulcimers, organs, baroque strings, trumpet, and choir. This piece is focused on a simple progression of three chords; this progression appears in the sequence […]

Reynardine (2013)

Voice & Orchestra, 3'

Traditional English folk song arranged for Aurora Orchestra.

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 […]

Seeing is Believing (2007)

for Thomas Gould, Nicholas Collon and Aurora Orchestra
solo electric six-string violin and chamber orchestra

Seeing is Believing references the exciting and superstitious practice of observing and mapping the sky; while writing it, I wanted to mimic the process by which, through observation, a series of points becomes a line ““ this seemed like the most appropriate way to think about a soloist versus an orchestra. The electric violin is […]

Sentences (2015)

Countertenor & Orchestra, 30'

This commission was supported by the generosity and vision of donors to Britten Sinfonia’s Musically Gifted campaign. Principal Commissioner Meredith Lloyd-Evans and Lisa Buckby,Neil Burns, Clare Drummond, Diana FoxBrindle, Roy & Barbara Hall, Will Harriss, Ivor Hunt, Michael McManus, Ashil Mistry, Bryan Orman & Patricia West Hannah Perks, Helen Phillips, Sue Prickett, John & Penelope […]

Short Stuff (2009)

Jeffrey Kahane
Piano, 5'

Commissioned by Jeffrey Kahane for the world premiere performance on April 26, 2009.

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.

So Far So Good (2011)

Orchestra, 20'

Commissioned by Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra (lead commissioner), Edwin Outwater, Music Director, Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. So Far So Good is the first piece of non-programmatic orchestral music I’ve written in about five years. It was simultaneously thrilling and unnerving to write something without a dramatic structure helping me along. As such, the […]

So to Speak (2004)

for Amiel Melnick, Fervent Polyglot
Orchestra, 8'

So to Speak (After Thomas Tallis) is an extended meditation on an anthem for Pentecost by Thomas Tallis entitled Loquebantur Variis Linguis (they spoke in many tongues). After organizing the material for the piece, I wrote a melody that works against, underneath, and above Tallis’s lines to create counterpoint made of old and new elements. […]

Stabat Mater Dolorosa (2010)

My Stabat Mater is a very simply-constructed piece of music. I knew I wanted to write a duet, a piece of religious music, and something to go along with a bit of Birtwistle.

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.

Syllables (2007)

for Dianne Berkun and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Children's chorus, piano, synthesizer, 8'

Syllables is an exploded setting of an old Icelandic text describing the end of the world. I say exploded as I elected to set the text both in English, fragments of Old Icelandic, as well as nonsense syllables taken from both languages. There is a constant, anxious pulse throughout the first section, which ends with […]

Ta & Clap (2005)

for Sam, Chris, John & Haruka
Percussion quartet

Ta-ing and Clapping is a method of teaching rhythms wherein all beats are accounted for, resulting in a fully-rendered moto perpetuo that only implies empty spaces naturally found in a rhythmic pattern.

The Edge of the World (2011)

for Ryan, Melody, Gregory, Deondra & Desirae Brown
Five Pianos and Orchestra, 16'

Commissioned by Ravinia Festival. The first performance took place on 9 August 2011 by The 5 Browns, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Conlon.

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 Mezzo-Soprano’s Song (2010)

Voice and Piano

Composed for the publication of the book
13 Words by Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman.

The Only Tune (2007)

for Sam Amidon
Multi-instrumental performer & pre-recorded CD, 16'

The Only Tune was written for Sam Amidon, a singer and instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, drum) trained in the tradition of American folk music.

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.

The Sweets of Evening

for Dianne Berkun and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Children's voices, piano, 8'

The Sweets of Evening (2006) was written for Dianne Berkun and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Having worked with this group of musicians many times before, I was honored to finally write them a piece. Having sung in a boy choir myself, I am fascinated and intimate with the changing nature of young voices, and I […]

Three Études for Piano (2003)

Solo piano

Three Etudes for Viola

for Nadia Sirota
Viola & Tape, 19'

These three etudes may be performed in any order, all together, or singularly. The pre-recorded material for these e?tudes should be mixed in such a way that the viola rides in the middle of the texture. Etude 2, however, should favor the solo viola. While we have had successful performances with the tape coming from […]

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 […]


Orchestra, 5'

Commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Tvi?so?ngur is a specific type of Icelandic two-part singing found both in manuscripts and in oral traditions. Some of the tradition seems, like much early music, to stem from an exercise in voice-leading, and other examples are more social, impromptu, and secular. These arrangements attempt to frame the tradition […]

Two Boys

Orchestra, Choir, & Solo Voices, approx. 120 Minutes

Act I In March 2001 in an English industrial city, before widespread use of the internet, Detective Anne Strawson is given a case she does not want: Jake, 14, has been stabbed in the heart and remains comatose; Brian, 16, stands accused but maintains his innocence. He regales Anne with a preposterous narrative, claiming to […]

Two Hearts (2012)

for Benjamin Millepied and the New York City Ballet
Voice, Vioin & Orchestra

Marking the fourth collaboration between Benjamin Millepied and composer Nico Muhly, the score for Two Hearts, commissioned by New York City Ballet, draws inspiration from the Northern European folk song “Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor”. Comprised of a principal duo and 12 corps de ballet members the ballet also features costumes designed by Kate and […]

Two Motets (2009)

Chamber Orchestra

William Byrd’s music has always fascinated me both as a composer and as an erstwhile choirboy; on the page it looks like so little, but then in its realisation, an enormous emotional landscape unfolds. When Nick Collon asked if I might try to orchestrate a few motets for Aurora, I jumped at the chance. There […]

Two Voices (2010)

Hillary Hahn
Violin & Piano, 4'

Commissioned by Hilary Hahn as part of the Encores project, 2010.

Viola Concerto (2014)

for Nadia, friend and teacher
Viola & Orchestra, 24'

Co-commissioned by Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Festival de Saint Denis and the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Alexander Shelley, Music Director Designate. First performed on 6 February 2015 by Nadia Sirota (viola) and Orquesta Nacionales de España, conducted by Nicholas Collon. My viola concerto (2014) has a traditional structure: a […]

Wish You Were Here (2007)

for those who are in danger by reason of their labor or their travel
Orchestra, 10'

I’ve always suspected that cartoons and illustrations do a better job capturing the emotional content of the unknown than pictures and first-hand narration. I have a picture in my head of the illustrators of the 1940s and 1950, holed up in Belgium drawing the tribal peoples of the Congo, or in California articulating gorgeous Arabian […]

Wonder Showzen (2006)

I scored an episode of the MTV2 show Wonder Showzen, which you can buy on iTunes or on DVD. I had a great time writing it; the people who make that show are some of the smartest people around. The premise of the episode that I scored (A Clarence Special Report: Compelling Television) is that […]

You Can’t Get There From Here

Piano, 17.30'

You Can’t Get There From Here is a meditation, in several connected sections played without pause, on, among other things, The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, itself a somewhat abstract collection of music by various composers. The piece is, in a sense, a collection of memories: a strange fragment of Tudor music here, a scrap of motor-music […]