Ever since I was a kid, I have had a deep love and appreciation for ocean creatures. I found delight in the weird and wonderful lifeforms swimming on the pages of my world almanac.
It amazes me that even despite humans continually pouring garbage and toxic waste into the ocean, jellyfish continue to thrive. Jellyfish - they seem so thin and fragile! Of course, the term “jellyfish” itself is a misnomer - there are a few sub- categories of life that are actually vastly different from one another all lumped into this umbrella term. In fact, the jellyfish that inspires the first movement, the Ctenaphore, is not considered a real jellyfish.
At first glance, the organ is an odd choice for a piece about jellyfish. However, you will soon hear that no single instrument is better equipped to handle the majestic backdrop of the deep ocean and the delicate shimmering of bioluminescence at the same time.
You are a small fish swimming in the deep Suddenly, a beam of man-made light hits the area you are swimming in. Next to you, your friends the Ctenaphores light up like prisms. Their small transparent bodies are lined with rows of tiny eyelashes that move in unison to help them dance quickly through the water. These hairs refract the beam of light from above, forming pulsating rainbows to your eyes.
2. Stygiomedusa gigantea
You are a scientist in an underwater research vessel. The water is dark, with little spots of light organic matter freckling the black like stars. You pan your camera, and see a ghost-like creature, 33 meters long, lurking behind you. It is dark red, with four massively long, billowing arms and a large undulating head. It slowly drifts below your vessel like a spirit sinking back into Hell. You are left amazed.
3. Aurelia aurita
You are a child visiting an aquarium for the first time. You enter a dark room, where a giant tubular tank of moon jellyfish swirl gently up and down in front of you. The translucent, saucer-like creatures glow a gentle blue hue in the dark. Even though you know they must sting, you want to reach in and touch their magic.
Forget me not
No matter what you may believe about what happens after death, we can all agree on one thing: everyone wants to live on in at least one cherished person's memory. Ann Plato, one of the first published Black poets in Hartford, expressed this beautifully, while remarkably still a teenager.
A Case of You
This arrangement of Joni Mitchell's classic song was premiered by the UConn Chamber Singers at the virtual music theory conference titled, "Joni Mitchell's Blue at 50: Celebration of her Life and Music." The video was edited by Marc Sokolson.
An Earth Song
This song is an energetic setting of a Langston Hughes poem about the coming of spring, new life, and triumph over struggle.
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
Rod Nelman, a voice professor at UConn, asked us to write pieces for classical voice without piano. My response was this psychological setting of this famous Emily Dickinson poem.
This fun and spooky piece is for a mixed chamber ensemble and amplified narrator. I conducted the premiere, and our narrator is Andrew Moreland.
The text is the classic short story, "The Raven," by Edgar Allan Poe.
Emptiness: 2160 E. Tremont Ave, The Bronx
Patricia Horn O'Brien, sent this quirky poem to me, inspired by the hustle and bustle of her childhood home.
White Sail at Midnight
This song is perhaps one of my favorite I've written. Of course, the text is by my poetic muse, Ginny Lowe Connors. I think Schubert would have liked to set it, but he was a few years too late.
I composed this collection of three songs using beautiful poetry by Hazel Hall. The poems use sewing as a metaphor for life and love, and offer a unique historical female perspective.
Songs of Salem, 1692
This cycle of seven songs was composed in collaboration with the Connecticut poet Ginny Lowe Connors. The cycle follows four characters, in their own voices.