> saturday > 14 January 2017 > Oxford, UK


It hadn’t really felt like 2017 had started until I boarded yet another United flight for London-Heathrow. I never intended to make a future in England, but circumstances - and good fortune - changed. Being granted a 5.5-year “Exceptional Talent” visa last year was a kind of crown on my years at Oxford, and considering the reality of possibly living with minimal welcome or support from the music community elsewhere, the termly flight to England seems feels edifying. It is one I am grateful to board.


All this is of course in the context of a period of immense transformation in my music. I am taking more time and I am frequently going back to what I have written and picking up the threads that I had abandoned, whether out of concern for deadlines, or, as in one specific case, because I didn’t feel I had the capability, mostly technical, to write the movement I wanted to write. Now I can. Somewhat hubristically, I feel I can do and write anything. State of the Union proved that it is all possible.


And speaking of State of the Union, I received from the fantastic recording engineer Markku Veijonsuo what I’d call version 2.0 of the recording track from last autumn’s recording of the piece with the Helsinki Chamber Choir in advance of the release of my portrait CD later this year. Forced to listen to State of the Union beginning to end for the first time since its last performance, it was both torturous and intensely rewarding. The choir’s performance cannot be put into words; neither can the conductor’s, Nils Schweckendiek’s, and how he brought the piece to life when it was very much on its death-throes.


> monday > 2 January 2017 > Oakland, CA, USA


Over a year ago, I was asked by composer David Conte, whose mentorship and support have been “instrumental” for my career, to write a short Prelude on the basis of one of the Chopins for his sixtieth birthday - a concert held in November2015. The resulting, very short piece, was dealt, let’s say, not a very positive hand at the hands of pianist Scott Foglesong. Though I was not in attendance the night of its premiere, a later video recording showed it was one of the worst of my life. But even at that point, I had hoped to write more pieces to complete the set. After all, is thirty seconds of music programmable? So, the set, titled D Major Preludes, would comprise a Chopin, a Scriabin, a Shostakovich, a Rachmaninov, and the final one - an “original” one of my own. And even the preceding ones sound little like their namesakes. They are my re-interpretations, much like my Erlkönig of 2014 sounds nothing (and everything) like the original as well.


So the turn of the year has seen me working on those as I get ready to commence on some very large projects. Later in the winter and early spring, I will join the Bogliasco Foundation as a Fellow in one of the most incomparably beautiful (of many incomparably beautiful) parts of Italy, Liguria, for a 5-week-long residency to work an upcoming full-length opera commission. And there will be more orchestral music in 2017 as well!


The next time this update rolls around, I will likely be back in the UK - but starting the year lightly, surrounded by loved ones, and in a major key, hopefully bodes well for this exciting time.


> wednesday > 21 December 2016 > Oakland, CA, USA


The longest night of the year stands diametrically opposed to the longest day; the further north or south one goes, the greater difference that distinction makes. On that latter day, I was in Tallinn, Estonia where the sun does not fully set on Midsummer’s Day, something that part of the world calls “White Nights”, while here in California, the former, longest night, passes uneventfully. In this way, the seasons are more unnoticeable; they transform irregularly. It is not unusual to have a day of warmth and sunshine as today has been followed or preceded immediately by unbearably chilly or rainy, dark ones. The year begins to blur; the only constants are the two extremes, the two solstices.


My last update for this year looks neither forward nor into the past (as others have done), but internally. After all, meaning and music cannot just be found out there, or appropriated for the purposes of rationalizing something that is otherwise unworthy. Looking in, one cannot lie. This year I spent a great deal of time writing choral music, almost to the exclusivity of everything else. I will begin 2017 with far simpler things before moving on from choral music altogether. At this present moment, I have said all I can say. In the new year, and in future ones, I will perhaps return and say more.


I also realized, in experiencing both huge doubts about the viability of the things I write and equally (if not unprecedented) relief and validation in the things I write coming to life exactly as intended, that doubt is actually far more external than internal. It comes from those people and things that have, in fact, more doubt themselves in what or who they are. I certainly learned that in a big way this year by - rightfully, I believe - condemning those who have doubted me to my own personal dustbin of history. In this sense, progress is not directional but personal and internal, too. I enter a new year by knowing more about myself and by being more myself. I believe that that must bode well for the music of 2017, too.


> friday > 9 December 2016 > Oakland, CA, USA


The final week in England went by like a flash - returning from Ireland, it seemed like the next day I was already off to Heathrow, and then, home. Though I had hoped to still finish the final edits to Lamentations prior to its inclusion on my upcoming portrait CD with the Helsinki Chamber Choir still on the other side of the Atlantic, it took until yesterday morning for the final touches to the third movement to finally be applied. And then, like another flash, the piece was once again complete. And its world premiere next year, in conjunction with its recording, will be a special capstone on the very busy four years I have fortunately spent writing music for the best choirs in the world.


These calm few days have allowed me to begin mapping out the next year in commissions, residencies, and new projects. In March, I look forward to coming to the Italian Riviera as a fellow of the Bogliasco Foundation on a project I hope to announce soon. Increasingly, I am turning to bigger, more meaningful projects. Increasingly, I am also looking back to look forward.


The final new recording of the year comes from the recent UK premiere of Come tu non sapessi, che l’amore è un respiro lievitato at the Sage Gateshead with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. The inspired performance, with the brilliant conductor Hugh Brunt bearing much responsibility, really does justice to the music. The “Listen” page has been updated accordingly. And finally, to briefly return to One Sun, 1 Moon, my dear friend and most loyal collaborator Scott Diel wrote a fantastic article summarizing the whole story of the piece and its Guido de Flaviis recording for the British Music Collection. It’s not just worth a read; it’s worth framing.


> sunday > 27 November 2016 > Oxford, UK


There was time for one more concert in 2016, and that was the Royal Northern Sinfonia at the Sage Gateshead this past Thursday performing my recently completed (originally for Avanti! but here slightly re-orchestrated) Come tu non sapessi, che l’amore è un respiro lievitato. The differences were insignificant in practical scope but quite clear in performance: swapping out harp and trombone for timpani and trumpet, and adding a twice-larger string section, means the piece breathes in a more dramatic fashion. And with slightly more rehearsal time - even if occasionally less open-minded ensemble members - the overall impression, masterfully led by conductor Hugh Brunt, was one I felt really lucky to have experienced.


In general, the experience of having visited Newcastle, a dazzling city in the north of England, and met with the external examiner for my D.Phil thesis and now-gracious friend Agustín Fernandez was one I cherish. Having made Oxford my effective home in England for the past four years, I actually didn’t imagine there were vibrant, interesting places left around England other than London (which has always been foreign and rather distant from me), but Newcastle was not only that, it was a revelation. If only, as I hear, the city had a new music scene (and institutional interest from the major performance venues) to match its otherwise exceptional character, it would be the ideal spot.


And of course, something I’ve been waiting for for weeks: the (video) recording of the Oxford Philharmonic with Maxim Vengerov and Marios Papdopoulos, below. As I prepare to return to California at the end of the week, it is perhaps fitting to close out my stay in the UK with the year’s most proud achievement:























The Oxford Philharmonic’s video of the November 10th performance of my Violin Concerto at the Sheldonian Theatre with Maxim Vengerov, soloist, Marios Papadopoulos, conductor, and the Oxford Philharmonic. Video (c) Oxford Phiharmonic Orchestra.


> tuesday > 15 November 2016 > Oxford, UK


Nothing short of magnificent - this was some way, some way of many, that I could describe what it was to sit in the Sheldonian and hear one of the world’s great soloists perform my Violin Concerto for a packed house with the brilliant Marios Papadopoulos and the Oxford Philharmonic. That soloist was of course Maxim Vengerov. Surrounded by my family and closest friends and loved ones, it was a night I can never get forget.


Maxim Vengerov, the Oxford Philharmonic, and a very grateful me at the Sheldonian. Missing from this photo: conductor Marios Papadopoulos, allowing us a short moment to bask in the glory of the premiere. Photo (c) MH Group.


After a period of concentrating so much on vocal - “programmatic” - music, it is particularly rewarding to visit the other side of the profession and work with orchestras. The experience is entirely different: faster, perhaps more instantly gratifying, and nothing can match the magic of working with an orchestra (though the Helsinki Chamber Choir makes a completely convincing argument to the contrary!) So next week I will be off to Newcastle, UK for the “Mozarts of Tomorrow” workshop with the Royal Northern Sinfonia at the spectacular Sage Gateshead to feel even more fortunate. Royal Northern Sinfonia is one of the UK’s very best chamber orchestras, and the piece, Come tu non sapessi che l’amore e un respiro lievitato, can certainly only benefit from such an auspicious UK premiere!


It is an unbelievable realization that the year is coming to an end; it feels it has barely started. The year has seen the completion of major projects (State of the Union, Lamentations) and the beginning of major others (my portrait CD with the Helsinki Chamber Choir, the forthcoming expansion of my Violin Concerto). Nevertheless, I pray for time to slow down just a little bit, after all...the speed of the music itself cannot continue to keep up otherwise.


> friday > 4 November 2016 > Tallinn, Estonia


I am now back in Tallinn for the first time since the summer, but somehow it feels far more distant than that. Perhaps it was the way it happened - flying to Helsinki and traveling to Järvenpää and Markko Veijonsuo’s studio for the commercial recording of State of the Union with Nils Schweckendiek, the Helsinki Chamber Choir, part one of my portrait CD with this extraordinary ensemble. And after 6.5 hours of intense, focused, inspired singing by the choir, we have the makings of a fantastic recording. Particularly rewarding were the moments where we still found more in the score that, due mostly to optimistic scoring by the composer, and could finally have those moments come out because we finally had the space to do so. It was a tremendously special experience and one that will continue in 2017 as we continue with a recording of the full Lamentations.


With the Helsinki Chamber Choir, conductor Nils Schweckendiek, and recording engineer Markko Veijonsuo. Photo (c) MH Group.


The next stop was visiting my family in St Petersburg, this time staying for the full visa-free rule-allowed seventy-two hours, and during those, the city transformed from a gray, dregs-of-autumn urban center to a veritable winter wonderland. We saw Il Viaggio a Reims at the Mariinsky, the Hermitage’s new modern art wing (with a fantastic Jan Fabre exhibit), and toured (for brief moments in the cold) the snow-filled sidewalks abutting the city’s canals. It was a beautiful, family-filled three days and a period during which my recollections and affection for the country where I spent my first six years and in which I was effectively born only increased.


Now, in Tallinn, and about to fly to return to the UK for the performance of my Violin Concerto with Maxim Vengerov, Marios Papadopoulos, and the Oxford Philharmonic, I am also excited to mention PUBLIQuartet’s performance of my String Quartet at the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York - a place I have still yet to visit and one that is completely at the top of my list. Knowing that the beautiful walls of the Fuentidueña Chapel will also be the setting for my music tomorrow, November 5th, is an honor and one I owe entirely to this amazing quartet.


> monday > 24 October 2016 > Oxford, UK


Looking forward - winter still feels some way off in Oxford, but November is fast approaching, as is my trip back to Finland for the first recording session of an upcoming portrait CD with the Helsinki Chamber Choir. And soon after that, two performances by PUBLIQuartet, the same immensely talented, enterprising group that accompanied the third Presidential debate, in Bethesda, MD and at the beautiful Cloisters in New York, NY. The latter is part of their residency with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And, of course, walking around Oxford in the early evening, I passed by this:


Spotted next to the Sheldonian in Oxford, UK - and elsewhere, apparently!


The public world premiere of my Violin Concerto with Maxim Vengerov, Marios Papadopoulos, and the Oxford Philharmonic is still several weeks away, but the absolute reality of having one of the world’s greatest violinists performing my music is probably only hitting me now. And I dare say that I think my Violin Concerto will stand up even to the great Beethoven in comparison!


These updates have been bereft of news regarding any new projects in the sense that I actually haven’t written any new music in several months. That’s changing now as I return to Lamentations to update and revise the outer movements for the public premiere of the entire piece (it will be heard as one for the very first time) next year in Mechelen, Belgium.


> friday > 14 October 2016 > Oxford, UK


Six performances of State of the Union over the course of a little over a week was about as intense a performance schedule as I could ever imagine and plan. It is hopefully only the beginning for this work, for my magnum opus, but it is worth returning to the otherwise innocuous fact that this piece almost didn’t happen at all. After being unceremoniously dropped in January of this year by Kaspars Putnins, it was only through the, frankly, unbelievable will of the DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University - Melissa Matuscak, in particular - and the Rabbit Island Foundation, whose executive directors also graciously served as our tour bus drivers, that the concerts happened in the first place. And, of course, there was the choir in the first place and its conductor Nils Schweckendiek, who has truly given meaning and definition to the word, indefatigable. The recording and video are now available and the commercial recording will be the next step, later this month.


Top panel, left to right: Rob Gorski (President, Rabbit Island foundation), Scott Diel (librettist), Andrew Ranville (Executive Director, Rabbit Island Foundation), and me, at the first US rehearsal of State of the Union. Middle panel: The choir and I at the first rehearsal. Bottom panel: Nils Schweckendiek leading the choir in a workshop with the Northern Michigan University choir. Photo (c) DeVos Art Museum


The piece did happen. But it didn’t just happen. It triumphed in the hands and voices of the Helsinki Chamber Choir. I could not have imagined better. In fact, I could not even have imagined for the piece to be what it became, thanks to this incredible choir and its incredible artistic director. To them, to all of the people who made State of the Union, and I must not forget, here, Scott Diel, who wrote the marvelous libretto - this was truly a project I am proud to have been a part of, and a piece I am immensely proud to have written. In the end, it was not even “experimental and unusual writing”. It was, in the words of a Pulitzer-prize winning composer I admire deeply, “rich in ideas and invention” - which is what I always meant it to be.


Over the course of those weeks, I found new confidence as a composer. The experience was career-affirming, in the sense that the music I write down is exactly what I hear and imagine. It is worth it to never stop imagining and to never give up. One cannot do that alone: one needs the very best in musicians, supporters, friends, family, and partner. I have all, and now the world has State of the Union.


> monday > 19 September 2016 > Oakland, CA, USA


The calm before the storm? Next Monday I’m on my way to Marquette, Michigan for the premiere of State of the Union with the Helsinki Chamber Choir. Then it’s Interlochen, Houghton, Sault Ste Marie, and ultimately New York City for its final presentation in the United States at Trinity Wall Street. It’s a big, intense round of performances for a big, intense piece, almost 40 minutes in all, testing the range, breadth, and skill of every single choir member. And of course, I am truly grateful that a choir and conductor have been brave enough to take the piece on - thank you Nils and Helsinki Chamber Choir!


The piece has received some preview coverage already and a micro site has gone up on the Rabbit Island webpage which will soon be populated with a wealth of material. There are already the Helsinki Chamber Choir’s announcement and brochure. I will post interviews, reviews, and photos of the tour as they come right here.


It is an immensely exciting time for me and one that has come despite some “reality checks” in other spheres of music life. One has to believe in the integrity of one’s voice - and sing louder.


> monday > 29 August 2016 > Oakland, CA, USA


Common wisdom is that summer is ending - indeed, we are almost in the last third of the year, just days away, yet by the looks of things in California, it is nowhere near a change in seasons. I have kept away from writing music. My last composition, Come tu non sapessi, che l’amore è un respiro lievitato, was finished in May and I have put no new notes on paper since. Is this a good thing? In any case, it brings fresh, remarkable things to my ears and countless new ideas for music. I am anything but burnt out.


But in other ways, summer has ended already. I am preparing for the Helsinki Chamber Choir’s US tour which contains six performances of State of the Union plus the work’s commercial recording later in October. I am not the only one preparing: previews have gone up from various venues, including the Interlochen Center for the Arts naming it the “highlight of the...season.” Later on, Maxim Vengerov’s performance of my Violin Concerto at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre with the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra must surely be the highlight of any of my seasons.


It is almost premature to discuss future projects, but there are many. What matters most for me is not the quantity of the work or even international breadth of performances, but the quality of the conductors and musicians involved. To work with those who don’t say that a piece is too experimental or unusual, but with those who crave it and encourage me to go further - that is what will define the new music I’ll begin writing this autumn, and for many seasons to come.


> tuesday > 9 August 2016 > Oakland, CA, USA


This update is full of news: the recording of Come tu non sapessi, che l’amore è un respiro lievitato, with thanks to composer colleague Tuomas Kettunen, is up on the “Listen” page. The performance by the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra is sublime, particularly thanks to the direction of Andres Kaljuste.


The performance list of the Helsinki Chamber Choir’s US tour and the world premiere of the full State of the Union (clocking in slightly shorter than the insipid speeches Americans are subjected to by our Executive branch) are now on the “Calendar” page, and are gradually making the news cycles in the Upper Peninsula and soon in New York.


And finally - Nostra Culpa continues to have a presence despite the fact that most musicologists and so-called music critics continue to deny its existence. No matter: history has already enshrined it in a number of cases and even several tomes. Witness this: a Steve Forbes book from last year that references Nostra Culpa as a pillar for his otherwise arguable (but interesting!) case for the flat tax. Whenever it comes to politics, I’ll stay out. But I will appreciate the shout-out, definitely.


Nostra Culpa: more than a footnote in (music) history.


> wednesday > 20 July 2016 > Oakland, CA, USA


Over the past week, passed some very busy days of concerts, premieres, and news of future projects. From the future is an upcoming opera project with the singer - indeed, musician - I enjoy writing for most: Iris Oja. More on that in the coming months. Slightly more near is the invitation from the prestigious Bogliasco Foundation to be a Fellow March-April 2017 at the beautiful Villa Orbiana just east of Genoa, Italy. And of course there were the two recent premieres: that of the second movement of Lamentations for the Time of Music festival and the Helsinki Chamber Choir, and of Come tu non sapessi, che l’amore è un respiro lievitato for the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra.


Conductor Andres Kaljuste at the dress rehearsal for the July 1st XXXI Summer Sounds concert with Avanti! Chamber Symphony, Grand, Porvoo, Finland.  Photo (c) Sävellyspaja


So what of all of it? It was a lovely time in Finland, tempered somewhat by the Rautavaara award itself (perhaps a reminder that music on its own might not count for all), and the chance to work with two exceptionally fine groups - with the Helsinki Chamber Choir in particular as we prepare for a much bigger project this autumn with the premiere of State of the Union in the USA. And just as importantly, it was particularly satisfying to read the review of the second movement of Lamentations by the Hufvudstadsbladet  (Finland’s largest-circulation Swedish-language newspaper), which the Choir premiered, called “sensual” and “surprising”. It was - after all - meant to be.


The coming weeks and coming months will ebb and flow with a variety of important, high-profile projects. But of course none will be greater and more satisfying than the premiere of State of the Union with the Helsinki Chamber Choir in their September-October concerts in the United States. The fact that such a premiere is happening in the first place, the fact that the piece is not in fact too “experimental”, too “unusual” to be performed.


> thursday > 30 June 2016 > Sannäs, Finland


To the right and the left of me as I type - indeed, directly behind me - extends the bright yellow wood sidings of one of the most beautiful manor houses in Finland: Sannäs. Except its name isn’t even Finnish, it’s Swedish, testament to the fact that even this unique, rather iconoclast nation is not nearly as homogenous and defined as one might at first think. Even in Finland, one can say there are many Finlands.


A beautiful place to work: the Sannäs manor porch.


Tomorrow, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra will premiere Come tu non sapessi, che l’amore è un respiro lievitato at the Grand in Porvoo, Finland, as part of the XXI Summer Sounds festival. Andres Kaljuste will conduct and I am very excited for the entire program which, as expected, is perhaps as varied and exciting as the region itself.


Then next Thursday, I am returning to Finland for the Time of Music festival and the final concert of the Rautavaara Competition. The piece I’ve written for the occasion, Lamentations, is a serious one and I hope it does more than simply resonate in the halls of Viitasaari Church, but also in the hearts of the audience. It is a deeply personal one.


These weeks, with their long days and sunlight-filled nights, are my last in Europe for the summer. It has been a productive, busy, difficult spring. But with much coming up in the autumn, it is one that brings me forward to something and somewhere where I need to be.


> friday > 10 June 2016 > Oxford, UK


Apart from reviewing recent scores and creating parts for Come tu non sapessi, che l’amore è un respiro lievitato, I’ve been away from the process of “creation” of music for the last three weeks. It has nevertheless been meaningful in the sense that during such quiet periods, rewarding musical ideas are perhaps most likely to arrive. Indeed, some have arrived and some have even stayed with me.


My weekend in Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland was a beautiful, memorable one. Apart from the sudden shower of rain that broke the muggy afternoon in Vilnius on the day that I last updated my website (and pictured below), it was sunny, warm, idyllic. Since around this time last year, I had been constantly in the middle of scores. If not State of the Union, then surely the other choral works and the new orchestral piece and had not traveled once unless for musical reasons. So, leaving behind scores and sketches, I traveled freely, and received freely.


A rainy downpour at Vilnius University...followed by a weekend of uninterrupted sunshine.


State of the Union - previewed here - is now up to six performances in the autumn with the Helsinki Chamber Choir, including one directly on Wall St, at Trinity Wall St Church. The other locations, otherwise all in Michigan, including the premiere at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI, will likewise be unforgettable events. The concert tour, still in the planning phase, is an immensely exciting and massive undertaking that can really be credited to the tireless work of the Rabbit Island Foundation, the DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University, and, of course, the Helsinki Chamber Choir.


> saturday > 21 May 2016 > Vilnius, Lithuania


I’m about to get on the train to Minsk, Belarus - my first visit since the Iron Curtain was knocked down but, ironically, since new walls have been put in place instead. Where was a Soviet Union, were now independent states. Every time I return to this region, one that was my home, and despite the United States being the place I really grew up in, this small corner of the world is where I come from, and where my feet are planted firmly. Especially now, at this time of the year, when spring is truly felt, when the evenings become impossibly long, when life finally spills outside and shows signs of vitality, there is hardly a better place in the world than here.


Of recent note was the premiere of RUMOR with Amanda Gookin at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music: the piece, which I consider a new direction and a new “question” entirely in my work will, I hope, lead to several new arrangements including one for cello ensemble. And news of a major project not for 2017 but for 2018 - and one that would perhaps require such a considerable lead time - is one about which I will speak in better detail soon. Finally, I am excited that new performances of State of the Union with the Helsinki Chamber Choir are adding up and being confirmed, now up to four and with a fifth in NYC very likely to join.


Prior to flying off to Vilnius, I completed my latest score for symphony orchestra, the rather lengthily-titled Come tu non sapessi, che l’amore è un respiro lievitato, a poetic, hopefully poignant piece, that has some in common with Addío, some in common with last year’s ballet project, Hiroshima, and something in common with nothing else I’ve ever written. The premiere will be this coming July with the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra at the XXI Summer Sounds festival.


> sunday > 1 May 2016 > Tallinn, Estonia


The most special news come unexpectedly but sometimes even waiting for confirmation of long-expected events is just as valuable, if not somehow more rewarding. As confirmations of State of the Union performances in the USA (on the Helsinki Chamber Choir’s US tour) roll in, and even the Rabbit Island Foundation has done a special post remarking on the matter, I am also immeasurably proud to announce a special collaboration with violin virtuoso Maxim Vengerov for the 2016-2017 season. There is actually even more to share too, expected and unexpected - but the time, the right time, always comes.


Writing this from the nineteenth floor, from one of the tallest buildings in Estonia, I remembered that the last time I made an update from here, a place very much my home, was more than a year ago. How did so much time pass without me spending night after night here, whence so much inspiration and musical self-awareness had come?


Left: Exhibition organizer, Maurizio della Nave and director George Romero, posing in front of RUMOR at the MUSICA CON VISTA exhibition, Palazzo Ducale, Lucca, Italy.  Photo (c) MUSICA CON VISTA


And further south, the MUSICA CON VISTA exhibition sent a photo of one very special guest posing in front of RUMOR - my violoncello + piano score for Amanda Gookin, due to be premiered soon. The man in front is, of course, legendary director, George Romero. Perhaps out of all, this was the most unexpected news, and truly rewarding too.


> tuesday > 12 April 2016 > Oakland, CA, USA


My Ucross residency separated me from the world but also brought me into far better contact with it. I completed the middle - and final - movement of Lamentations, a project that took place over four years and for three different choirs: the BBC Singers, the Eric Ericsons Kammarkör, and the Helsinki Chamber Choir. The final movement, written for the Time of Music festival as my final entry in the Rautavaara Competition is so entirely different from State of the Union, yet fundamentally an extension and effective double for that piece. It was a push to complete it in time but having thought of and imagining the piece for months, it is indeed something special for me. It comes straight from the heart.


The residency also brought me to the beginning of a new work, for the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra and the XXXI Summer Sounds festival, to be conducted by Andres Kaljuste: Come tu non sapessi, che l’amore e un respiro lievitato. The title comes from a poem by Stefano Marino, whose writings have been an influence on my music for at least the last six years. The short piece, probably no more than four minutes long, will breathe, heave, and build just like love itself. As always - it is the ending that is unpredictable, even for me.


Lastly, news that the score of RUMOR has been chosen for public display at the exhibition, MUSICA CON VISTA at the Palazzo Ducale in Lucca, Italy. Before the piece is even premiered later this spring, it is so nice to know that the score itself will be visible to the thousands attending the two-month-long exhibition. And finally, the premiere of State of the Union and the Helsinki Chamber Choir’s tour gets closer, as evidenced by the Rabbit Island Foundation’s public announcement of the project.

A cabin with a view. At the Ucross Foundation residency, Wyoming.


> thursday > 24 March 2016 > Ucross, WY, USA


Over a week has passed since my return to the United States and two major milestones have passed already: the double bar on State of the Union, my most ambitious and definitive piece by far, completed shortly prior to my departure from Oxford two weeks ago, and the release of the recording of Joby Burgess’ incredible performance of We are not alone - now featured on the “Listen” page.


Joby and I mastering the recording of We are not alone at his Sandy, UK studio.  Photo (c) MH Group.


I am now hard at work on the second movement of Lamentations, a project I began four years ago by composing the outer movements - the first for the Eric Ericsons Kammarkör for Tenso Days 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden and the third for the BBC Singers, premiered in 2013 at the BBC Maida Vale Studios. The inner movement was always supposed to be there, setting a passionate line from the Lamentations text: “Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us for so long?” But the score, written for the Helsinki Chamber Choir for the Time of Music festival this coming July, is more ambitious than either of those movements by a long-shot. It is also entirely different in scope and direction from State of the Union. In short, it is an impassioned plea to be heard - musically and personally.


There is more new music to come, including a piece for chamber symphony aimed to be completed during my Ucross Residency, including a new piece for Avanti! Chamber Orchestra for their yearly music festival in Porvoo, Finland. All in all, it’s been a remarkably productive start to 2016, and I look forward to the premieres of the latest works in the coming months!