Living is easy with eyes closed (2017)
for string orchestra (min. 43221) and electronics
Premiered April 20, 2017, by Quodlibet Ensemble, Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church, New York, NY
Quodlibet Ensemble // April 20, 2017, Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church, New York, NY
Narrative structure has emerged as a prevailing concern in much of my work. Living is easy with eyes closed is specifically concerned with imagery. On reading Mary Gaitskill’s short story “An Old Virgin,” I was struck by how, in the absence of virtually any plot (a woman gets in her car and goes to work), the author deploys images so densely compressed with meaning. This work aspires to a similar narrative alchemy. (I considered titling the work An Old Virgin, but this felt somehow misleading; even worse, the inadvertently predatory After “An Old Virgin.” Gaitskill’s story first appeared in The New Yorker as “A Dream of Men,” but appropriating this title seemed unnecessarily erotic. And after all, this is not program music. I’ve borrowed instead from the Beatles: “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.”)
Living is easy with eyes closed was commissioned by Quodlibet Ensemble
Oxford Alley (2014)
for chamber orchestra (1202 2200 timp str 
Premiered February 2, 2014, by the Sheep Island Ensemble (James Blachly, cond.), Hungarian House, New York, NY
Oxford Alley was commissioned by the Sheep Island Ensemble.
One might imagine each movement of a Haydn symphony – take the Oxford – as a magnificent eighteenth-century rococo building: the slow introduction to the first movement, a grand marble staircase leading to the Allegro spiritoso, a bourgeois gentlemen's club perhaps, sitting on the same city block as the library (Andante) and a music hall (Menuetto).
With such a scenario in mind, I've sought to animate the silence between the Oxford Symphony's first two movements, imagining the rascals, degenerates, and ne'er-do-wells making merry in the alley below with dice, bootleg liquor, and a music of their own. And I believe that Joseph Haydn, the prankster behind the Joke Quartet and the Surprise and Farewell Symphonies, would have enjoyed their company – which is to say that I've marauded his work with the greatest reverence, and hope he would have approved. (It may or may not be also worth noting that while at work on Oxford Alley, I discovered AMC's The Walking Dead.)
Oxford Alley is dedicated with profound fondness to the late Michael Steinberg – like Haydn, a genius equally of music and of mischief, and an irreplaceable mentor and friend – who once observed to me with his signature eloquence, "The clarinet seems to me so quintessentially a Mozartian sound in its roundness. Haydn is more of an oboe man."