What inspires you to write and/or perform?
When I started recording commercially in 2015, less than 5 years after completing my M.A., I was motivated almost entirely by wanting visibility and recognition. Now that I’ve checked off pretty much everything on my “bucket list” as a composer, even though I’m not much better known than I was then, I’m just “following my nose.” I wrote De profundis clamavi (on THROUGH GLASS) because I had such a good time working with Trio Casals, and because I felt like doing something a little outrageous (a 7-voice fugue for 3 instruments); my most recent completed piece is for chorus, reflecting on feelings about the COVID-19 era; and I’m working on my first piece for orchestra, which I was actually invited to write.
Tell us about your first performance.
In 2005, San Francisco Choral Artists performed a tiny SSAA choral piece I wrote with text by Hildegard of Bingen. They did a wonderful job, and when I took my bow after the performance, I was so high I was almost shaking.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
I have some ASD, and probably because of that, I’m drawn to activities that are very structured and rule-based. My career before composition was in software, and I still tinker with software projects the way many people tinker with old cars or motorcycles. If I weren’t composing, that would be a lot of my life.
Do you have any specific hopes about what this album will mean to listeners?
As a fugue written in a Renaissance-era style, De profundis clamavi is pretty far out of today’s mainstream. My hope is that there will be some listeners out there who may never have been exposed to this style and in whom the piece will spark a desire to explore it further.
How have your influences changed as you grow as a musician?
When I started exploring composition in junior high school, the only style I understood was J.S. Bach’s. The late Joe Schaaf and his great music program at the Cambridge School of Weston opened my eyes and ears to madrigals. When I started singing seriously as an adult in my late 20s, I found I loved early music (16th-17th c.) in general. And when I finally went back to school for serious music study in my 50s, I discovered a latent affinity for Brahms.
What were your first musical experiences?
My parents listened to a lot of the standard classical repertoire on phonograph records. They had me take piano lessons, which I don’t remember enjoying: I haven’t kept my piano skills and haven’t particularly wanted to, even though that may have been the only reason I wound up getting my M.A. at Cal State Hayward rather than the San Francisco Conservatory (which has a piano skills entrance requirement). But my grade school, Shady Hill in Cambridge MA had a wonderful music program, and starting in kindergarten, I learned to sing, read music, and play the recorder, all of which I liked.