Finding My Way

I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge.—Igor Stravinsky

Aesthetic identity—I like that. I’m like that. ...Aesthetic meanings go beyond social signals to personal affirmations of our sense of self.—Virginia Postrel, The Substance of Style

I began composing and arranging music for fun around age fifteen, and for a decade and a half I enjoyed exploring a wide range of stylistic materials—from blues and jazz to Renaissance madrigals, and from classical tonality to modernist atonality. Eventually, after composing dozens of pieces, I realized I’d become deeply fascinated by some stylistic possibilities, and had lost interest in others.

Over time, some materials, techniques, and stylistic options came to feel well-suited to my emerging sense of aesthetic identity. In contrast, a number of other options came to feel irrelevant to, or at odds with, my deepest aesthetic interests. In response, I simply continued to work with options I found congenial and intriguing, and dropped those that felt like mismatches.

Among the stylistic qualities I find most interesting are melodic beauty, a sense of physical motion, and flexible forms of modal/tonal organization. Some aesthetic traits I find particularly fascinating are strikingness, vivid expression, and a sense of mercurial temperament.

I strive to create works that will engage performers and audience members. But for me, much of the pleasure of composing comes from the labor itself—from spending time exploring materials, techniques, and aesthetic concepts that I find engaging.