Sinfonietta (2013) (7′)

Jacob Walls, conductor

11.19.13 Beall Hall, Eugene, Ore.
[The version on Soundcloud uses a revised ending recorded in 2014 at the Atlantic Music Festival.]


This “sinfonietta,” or small symphony, for sixteen instrumentalists inscribes a musical terrain that is at once angular and incisive, yet also warm and familiar. The concise contrapuntal dialogue that begins the piece gives rise to a driving, motoric passage integrating counterpoint with ostinato. Some later passages continue this integration, while others focus on one technique alone. Following the final hard-driving moment, the piece concludes with a series of sparsely scored but still very incisive passages, the last for contrabass and marimba with sparse wind accompaniment.

You do yourself what you want to hear

You do yourself what you want to hear (2013) (4′)

Christopher Boveroux, conductor
11.19.13 Beall Hall, Eugene, Ore.

You do yourself what you want to hear. You give and you receive. You receive what they play: you listen. And you give them what they need.


These words were spoken by the French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez in the course of explaining why he conducts with his hands alone (without a baton), but they may as well have been spoken about any other musical activity—composing, performing, even consuming music—and retained their poignancy. So it seemed to me to be a fine text for this piece.

Text excerpted from Paul Griffiths, The Substance of Things Heard: Writings About Music, (Rochester: Univ. of Rochester Press), 2005: p. 96. The publisher has been notified, and the composer expects the use of the text to fall under fair use guidelines.


Prelude and Changüí en F

Prelude and Changüí en F

from This music with all of you (2011)

Adam Marks and Jacob Walls, piano
July 7, 2013
Beall Hall, University of Oregon Composers Symposium

View the score

This music with all of you is comprised of two pensive movements and two dance movements, but I’ve almost had it both ways: the pensive movements are rhythmically animated and the dance movements (as vibrant and celebratory as they are!) retain a tinge of melancholy. The synthesis of loss and joy is a common enough thread in music, but what brought forth the specific dramatic content of this piece was that in the year it was written I was mourning the loss of a close friend and teacher and also spending a good deal of time studying Cuban music. (Hence the fourth movement’s tip of the hat to the changüí genre.) I hope this piece conveys the enthusiasm and infectiousness of a live well lived, whether we are remembering a life now pertaining to the past or a dancing a life still pertaining to the present.

Click here for more on the entire suite.