It is always a great joy to work closely with other musicians in the creation of a new work. Collaboration often results in a work that goes beyond my expectations, expanding the horizons of all participants. I hope to continue collaborating both with musicians I know and with new musician-friends. Collaborations, whether for a single work or a series of works, are what makes composing meaningful to me.
I have been very lucky as a composer. I had very solid training from Eliot Borishansky at Denison University and Marshall Barnes (no picture available) at The Ohio State University, and I had the opportunity, over the years, to work in a wide variety of mediums.
Elliot Borishansky – a great teacher with a wonderful sense of humor
At Denison in the late 1960s and early 1970s, William Osborne, the choral director, performed my works with the Chapel Choir and then commissioned works for European tours of the Denison Singers. In all, there have been at least seventeen works premiered by the Denison Singers.
In grad school at Ohio State in the mid-1970s, there was a further choral commission from Maurice Casey for the Concert Choir and a televised performance, arranged by Marshall Barnes, of my first song cycle.
When I went to work in Jacksonville, NC, at Coastal Carolina Community College in 1976, I was working in a marine corps city with few musical outlets. However, North Carolina had a Visiting Artist program that brought musicians and other artists into the community for a full academic year. The musicians needed solo pieces to play for schools and civic groups, as well as accompanied pieces for their formal recitals.
Over time I was commissioned to compose both short solo works and longer accompanied pieces for
flute, (Clifford Tretick),
trumpet (Paul Morton),
guitar (Elliot Frank),
and percussion (Mark Shelton),
as well as song cycles for tenor (Jim Croom)and piano
and soprano (Lea Beth Cram Porter) and piano.
I had also composed a sonata for viola and piano in 1980 that led to a friendship with Hugh Partridge, then Principal Viola in the NC Symphony.
Hugh Partridge, more recently the admired director of the Triangle Youth Orchestra in Raleigh, NC
Eventually that resulted in commissions for a piano quartet, a violin-viola duo, and a string trio, as well as additional pieces for viola and piano. Through Hugh’s work in creating a youth orchestra in the Raleigh area, I also composed pieces for orchestra, including a ballet. This collaboration resulted in five orchestral works and eleven chamber works.
I met soprano Alice Pierce
in 1989 when she worked at UNC Wilmington. I needed a soprano for a trio I had written for Visiting Artist, trumpeter, Paul Morton. The work was “In Early Spring” with a text by Salvatore Salerno, who had been a Visiting Artist at CCCC in 1988. Alice priemiered the work and has championed my songs and song cycles ever since, giving multiple performances of several works and recording six of my song cycles.
Salvatore Salerno is one of three living poets whose poetry I’ve set multiple times. Sal now lives in Modesto where he serves as poet laureate.
The other two are poet laureate of Vero Beach, Sean Sexton,
and a gifted poet, Rob Smith,
from my original home town, Huron, Ohio. It is a real joy turning great poetry into meaningful music, and I thank them again for allowing me to use their works.
Two of my colleagues at Coastal Carolina Community College collaborated on multiple performances. Soprano and choir director Dr. Ayumi Nakamae premiered two of my song cycles and four of my choruses.
Then there is pianist I-Hsuan Tsai, who only worked briefly at CCCC while being courted by violinist Yang Liu. I wrote several works for the two of them. Collectively, they premiered five of my compositions.
Most recently I’ve had a good friendship and working relationship with Aaron Collins and the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra, beginning with a commission for a short film score. I envisioned a collaboration with Vero Beach poet laureate Sean Sexton that resulted in the narrated orchestral work, A Florida Story, that reveals some of the early history of Vero Beach and a love story about Sean’s grandparents. The SCSO premiered the work in 2022. It is one of eight performances sponsored by the orchestra or its ensembles.
I’ve become a jack of all genres, and it has been both fun and rewarding. What then should I do with my nearly 400 musical children? It’s far more pieces in too many genres for anyone to willingly peruse. So, on this website, you will only see a few of my favorites. Furthermore, I will try to specialize in one genre at a time.
Welcome, one and all!