Respirator

ensemble chamber orchestra
duration 13 minutes
written March 2015
commissioned by Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
premiere May 16, 2015 at Alex Theater, Glendale CA; May 17, 2015 at Royce Hall, Los Angeles CA
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane, Conductor
publisher Unsettlement Music
recording coming soon

notes

When I was young, I had severe asthma. Attacks flared up often and my parents struggled to control them: one minute I’d be playing outside and the next I’d be headed to the hospital, wheezing, my breathing heavy and labored.

My asthma began to ease up when I was four or five years old, and most of my memories are hazy. I do remember, however, how it felt to be strapped to the face mask that helped me inhale medication and return to normal breathing. The sound of my lungs felt amplified, with all its noisy drips and hisses, clinging to the determined hum of my breath. This struggle could be scary to listen to, so I would often focus on the pulse of my heartbeat, which sounded huge. As the medication kicked in, my heart-rate would accelerate, but I still used it as a regulating force.

Respirator is an attempt to turn those memories into music. 

The pitched material of the piece — the “notes” — is sometimes heard only as a distant hum beneath a weight of instrumental grit and noise, and at other times is focused and clear. The “noise” is created by asking every musician to make sounds that obscure a single pure and discernible pitch (for example, wind players are asked to sing and play at the same time, the timpanist plays with cymbals on top of his drums, and the celli play with a wine cork wedged between two of their strings). Pitches come into focus along with the complexities of harmony, with all their implications and ambiguities. An enduring pulse regulates these sonic transformations from beginning to end.


WORKS
 

LARGE WORKS WITH VOICES

Place (2018, 75-90 min.)
18 instruments, 6 voices
Sound from the Bench (2014/2017, 40 min.)
mixed choir with 2 electric guitars and percussion
Coloring Book (for Roomful of Teeth) (2015, 30 min.)
vocal octet
The Source (2014, 65 min.)
7 instruments, 4 voices
Partition (2010, 20 min.)
mixed choir with full orchestra
Katrina Ballads (2007, 60 min.)
11 instruments, 5 voices


ORCHESTRA

Miami in Movements (2017, 35 min.)
large orchestra with video
Dispatches (2015, 18 min.)
large orchestra
Respirator (2015, 13 min.)
chamber orchestra
Stem (2013, 25 min.)
large orchestra
Law of Mosaics (2012, 30 min.)
string orchestra
First World (2012, 7 min.)
large chamber orchestra
Erasure Scherzo (2012, 6 min.)
large orchestra
Word for Word (2011, 10 min.)
large orchestra
Shizz (2010/2017, 4 min.)
versions for large orchestra and chamber orchestra
Build a Room (2010, 20 min.)
concerto for trumpet and orchestra
Patriot (2007, 9 min.)
large orchestra


SOLO WORKS

DaVZ23BzMH0 (2016, 7 min.)
solo cello, with electronics
Parlor Diplomacy (2011, 20 min.)
solo piano
Nobody's (2010, 4 min.)
solo violin

 

CHAMBER MUSIC
(2-5 instruments)


Double Exposures [String Quartet No. 1] (2017, 18 min.)
string quartet
To Be the Thing (2017, 10 min.)
voice, electric guitar and percussion, with live electronics
The Answer to the Question That Wings Ask (2016, 11 min.)
string quartet and narrator
Furtive Movements (2013, 14 min.)
cello and percussion
Interlude for Fingers (2013, 4 min.)
two vibraphones
Licorice Men (2011, 8 min.)
electric guitar quartet
Thaw (2009, 12 min.)
percussion quartet
Ghostspace (2009, 8 min.)
mixed quartet (accordion, electric guitar, piano, drums)
Vessels (2008, 10 min.)
trio (violin, viola, piano)
Crib Dweller (2007, 8 min.)
mixed quintet (bass clarinet, elec. guitar, trumpet, trombone, horn)
23 (2005, 8 min.)
mixed quintet (flute, horn, elec. guitar, piano, drums)
Warning Song (2006, 7 min.)
voice and cello, with electronics
One of Us, One of Them (2005, 8 min.)
piano and percussion
Forcefield (2004, 5 min.)
viola and vibraphone


CHAMBER MUSIC
(6-13 instruments)


One Like (2016, 7 min.)
14 musicians
For the Love of Charles Mingus (2016, 9 min.)
6 violins
Baby [an argument] (2016, 11 min.)
10 musicians
By-By Huey (2014, 10 min.)
sextet (fl, bcl, vln, vc, pno, perc)
"The Cage" Variations (2014, 20 min.)
6 instruments (fl, cl/bcl, vln, vc, pno, perc) with baritone solo
Crispy Gentlemen (2012, 15 min.)
7 instruments (fl/picc, cl/bcl, vln, vla, vc, pno, perc)
But I Voted for Shirley Chisholm (2012, 8 min.)
11 instruments+tape
Randos (2012, 8 min.)
7 instruments (L'Histoire septet)
Cutest Little Arbitrage (2011, 12 min.)
6 instruments (2 sax, trombone + rhythm section)
Is it Dirty (2010, 8 min.)
16 instruments with 2 singers
versions for 10 instruments and 6 instruments
Eyelid Margin (2009, 12 min.)
10 instruments (brass quintet + 5 double-reeds)
Snowball (2008, 6 min.)
8 instruments (bcl, tpt, tbn, vln, acc, egtr, pno, dr)
version for 7 instruments (bcl, bn, tpt, tbn, vln, db, perc)
Illuminating the Maze (2008/2016, 15 min.)
6 instruments (tpt, hn, tbn, egtr, pno, dr)
version for 11 instruments
Music from "Body Soldiers" (2008, 10 min.)
5 instruments + singer
Cordavi and Fig (2007, 8 min.)
13 instruments
Antiphon (2003, 8 min.)
9 instruments (3 cl, bcl, 3 tpt, tbn, pno)


CHORAL MUSIC

What it might say (2016, 5 min.)
Coloring Book (2015, 30 min.)
Consent (2014, 7 min.)
Ripple (2012, 10 min.)
Privilege (2009, 14 min.)
Mass for St. Mary’s (2008, 10 min.)

Music for youth choir:
Room for Something (2011, 8 min.)
Away (2010, 6 min.)
Because (2006, 6 min.)
Murder on the Road in Alabama (2003, 6 min.)


SOLO VOICE

To Be the Thing (2017, 10 min.)
voice, electric guitar and percussion, with live electronics
Intimacy and Resistance (2010, 5 min.)
voice and piano
Charleston Songbook (2008, 20 min.)
voice and piano w/ lead sheets
I Remember (2007, 8 min.)
for three sopranos, or one soprano with electronics
I Carry Your Heart (2007, 5 min.)
voice and piano
Warning Song (2006, 7 min.)
voice and cello, with electronics


COLLABORATIVE WORKS

Miami in Movements (2017)
The Answer to the Question That Wings Ask (2016,)
Hand Eye (2015)
New Dances for the League of David (2014) 
You're Causing Quite a Disturbance (2013)
R WE WHO R WE (2013)
Histories (2012)