Some years ago, my composition what stays with me was being prepared for performance at a new music festival. After the dress rehearsal, the festival's featured guest composer, whose name and music were unknown to me beforehand, and whose music is among the most startlingly original I've ever heard, asked me "What were you on when you wrote this, and do you have any of it on you?"
A couple of years later I sent a sheaf of scores and recordings (including what stays with me) to a composer whose work I was getting to know. He responded with detailed comments on everything I had sent him except for what stays. I asked him if there were anything he wanted to say about it. He responded, "It is of no interest."
* * * * *
I began composing after I was introduced to Modern and contemporary music when I played trombone in the Governor's School of North Carolina Orchestra. Among the composers we played that summer were Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern, Georgy Ligeti, and Witold Lutoslawski. In addition, I was exposed to the work of Charles Ives, Morton Feldman, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and many others.
I was born in 1955, and like many composers of my and subsequent generations, I draw my musical influences from a wide range of experiences. In addition to performing on trombone, I played cowbell and sang in rock bands, was a member of my high school’s stage band, and sang in a chorus in graduate school. Along the way I learned to conduct old and new music, and arranged popular songs for a local pianist for performance and recording.
All of these experiences surface in my music in one way or another. Listeners and performers note similarities between my music and other, very different kinds of music they had heard before, jazz in particular.
I find that as I age and gain more experience, I become more interested in the character of musical instruments (including voices), and the personalities of the musicians who perform with them. I strive to write music that reflects the nature of the instruments at hand, even when the substance of the music seems to be in dialogue or conflict with that nature. In my ensemble works, the dynamic of ensemble performance itself is usually one of the central subjects of the piece.
My favorite note is the F natural above middle C.