Pittsburgh’s Collective Legacy: IonSound Project

Please join me for the premiere of my new commissioned piece for IonSound Project, Caelestis Res (celestial objects), at Bellefield Hall in Oakland (Pittsburgh, PA), as part of their collaboration with Pittsburgh’s Collaborative Legacy Project, to celebrate the life of Pittsburgh immigrant James Justice and his contributions in science and technology.

Sunday, March 12, 7PM                                                                                                  University of Pittsburgh, Bellefield Hall Auditorium                                             Tickets $20/15 student/senior, free for Pitt students

Details here.


Michael Mizrahi Album Release Tour

MichaelMichael-Mizrahi-18-Edit-very-small_350‘s new album, Currents, is finally being released on March 25, via New Amsterdam Records.  First, please consider pre-ordering it here.  It is a gorgeous new collection of piano music, mostly commissioned by Michael himself.  For anyone who’s skeptical of “modern music,” I can tell you that yes, this is different and wholly of our time, but it also unabashedly influenced very much by the Romantic piano repertoire.  My own piece, “Missing Piece,” was inspired by the middle movement of Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata.  It is all music of a focused, obsessive kind of intensity.  I’m happy to be in the company of the other great composers on the album, including Missy Mazzoli, Mark Dancigers, Asha Srinivasan, Troy Herion, and Sarah Kirkland Snider.  Mark Dancigers did an extraordinary job producing the album, too.

His tour begins in Chicago and ends in New York (Brooklyn).  He’ll be joined on the tour by acclaimed violinist Michi Wiancko.  Click on the links below for more details on each concert.  I’ll be at the Brooklyn show- hope to see you there!

Chicago–Thursday, March 24

Greenfield, MA–Friday, March 25

New York (Brooklyn)–Saturday, March 26

New Music USA Grant

I’m thrilled to announce that the song cycle Rounder Songs, composed jointly with my wife Emily Pinkerton, received a New Music USA grant. We will finish composing the music, premiere it with Emily performing on banjo and singing with NOW Ensemble, and make a studio recording. Right now, our project is on the “Featured” page of New Music USA. Many thanks to New Music USA and everyone involved– especially Emily, for writing the grant.  Stay tuned for updates!

Rounder Songs (New Music USA page, with full description of the piece)

Here is a preview of the song cycle from a concert at the Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, PA) with NOW Ensemble and Emily Pinkerton, as part of the University of Pittsburgh’s Music on the Edge series.  Red Rocking Chair (YouTube)




Michael Mizrahi Champions New Piano Music at Bowling Green

Michael continues to be the most frequent performer and strongest advocate of my music, and I couldn’t be more grateful!  He will play another concert of newly commissioned piano music, including my Missing Piece, at Bowling Green on their “MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music” series on February 16 at 8PM in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center.  This is a very special performance of the piece, because he will perform the second movement from Beethoven’s “Appassionata” sonata right before my piece, as I’ve requested.  My new piece is a kind of response to the Beethoven, but it’s still in a 21st century musical language, so the linking of the two pieces creates a mysterious dialogue between a dead composer from nearly 200 years ago and a living composer.  The piece is dedicated to my wife, Emily Pinkerton.

If I ever get around to blogging about music and culture, I’ll write more about this piece, but for now, I just want to say that despite what I’ve just said about the dialogue with a dead composer, I am not confronting any kind of “anxiety of influence,” as the late 19th-century composers did with Beethoven, or even wrestling with any worry about how this piece matches up to the long tradition of solo piano music.  By now, I think that the burden of competing with dead composers is something of the past– my generation, and probably certain composers from a generation or two ago, have stopped caring about this.  It can only hinder us, and it’s irrelevant anyway.  I’m just responding to Beethoven because, as a pianist (really, a former concertizing pianist), I have a great fondness for much of the piano repertoire.  And Michael asked me if I could compose a piece in response to a piece that was already in the repertoire, so I chose the Appassionata.”  I’m responding to Beethoven in a personal way– as if his central position in the Western canon didn’t matter to me.  So… just thought I’d make it clear.  A reviewer thought that I was wrestling with Beethoven-anxiety (which is totally understandable, until you hear the music!).  It’s just not the case.  Another example of this kind of thing is the piece that Caroline Shaw wrote for Michael– she included an entire Chopin mazurka in the middle of her piece, note for note.  But there isn’t a hint of anxiety (or irony) in the whole piece– you can tell that she just likes the piece, and thought that it would be interesting to add a modern framework to it.

Details here.

Michael Mizrahi Continues to Perform New Works, at Lawrence

My truly supportive colleague and friend Michael Mizrahi will once again perform the latest piece he commissioned from me–Missing Piece–in Appleton, WI, at Lawrence College, where he teaches.  He’s also playing the entire “Appassionata” sonata by Beethoven– the second movement of which inspired my own piece.  Here are the details.

January 11, 2015, in Appleton, WI, at Lawrence College.


Michael Mizrahi California Tour

My long-time friend and collaborator Michael Mizrahi will take my new piece for him to California for performances in Long Beach, San Francisco, and San Diego.  Michael adds a lot to Missing Piece in his interpretation, which I left wide open.  Michael asked me (and several other composers) to think about a piece from the piano repertoire that meant something to me, and to write a piece in response to it.  I wrote Missing Piece partly in response to the second movement of Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata, and so Michael usually performs the two pieces together.

Cal State University, Long Beach– Dec. 4

University of California, San Diego– Dec. 5

Center for New Music, San Francisco– Dec. 7


Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Premiere!

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will premiere The Elements, composed by five Pittsburgh composers including myself and Amy Williams, Mathew Rosenblum, Reza Vali, and Bomi Jang.  Each of us composed a separate movement for the piece, choosing different “elements” such as water, earth, fire, and metal.  I chose water and earth (thinking of the hills and rivers in Pittsburgh) for my movement, entitled Flourish.  This piece is the result of a lifelong dream to hear the PSO perform my music at Heinz Hall.  The piece is dedicated to my former teacher and Pittsburgh icon David Stock, and also to my son, who will be born around the same time– his due date is February 9th!

Manfred Honeck conducts the PSO in a dazzling presentation of Holst’s The Planets as well, so this is a concert not to miss.  Ticket information is available below through the link below.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, February 7th and 8th at 8:00PM, and February 9th at 2:30PM at Heinz Hall on Sixth and Penn, downtown Pittsburgh.

Buy tickets here.


Northwestern Contemporary Music Ensemble

The Northwestern Contemporary Music Ensemble will reprise my chamber orchestra piece Everything Else, commissioned by the Albany Symphony in 2010.  The concert will feature works by my former teacher Joseph Schwantner, including Sparrows and Music of Amber.  I’m thrilled to be a part of the concert, and to have my chamber orchestra piece played with multiple strings!  I wish I could attend, but I am not able to travel, due to the fact that my wife and I are expecting our first child any day now.


Northwestern Contemporary Music Ensemble, February 6, at 7:30PM

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

50 Arts Circle Drive

Evanston, IL 60208


Buy tickets here.

Musicianship Creates… Spring Concert, Duquesne University, 3:00PM

The Musicianship faculty at Duquesne University will put on a free 1-hour concert of our own music at the Mary Pappert School of Music on Monday, 4/15 at 3:00PM. The concert feature’s Dr. Joe Sheehan’s band, a performance of my very difficult piano piece, Unravel, by jazz piano student Alec Chapman, and a performance of a work by Dr. Zvonimir Nagy. Many thanks to Joe for planning the event!