I’ve found that composing what I call “symphonic pictures” is a great source of inspiration. They are single movement pieces that bring to mind a certain place or idea. I’ve composed a number of them already. I want to share highlights from the series with you here.
The first three symphonic pictures are depictions of America. With these three pieces, I set out to create a very American sound with music that is accessible to community, high school, and college orchestras but also has enough depth to be performed by professional musicians. These pieces grew in scope along with our La Verne Symphony Orchestra. It is my mission through these pieces to make quality music accessible to amateurs and professionals alike, a very American idea to begin with.
“Symphonic Picture No. 1: New Frontier” was written for and first performed by the La Verne Symphony Orchestra, a university and community ensemble that seeks to bring people together through the power of music.
I drew inspiration from the composers Antonín Dvořák and Aaron Copland as well as the natural surroundings of my native Southern California. I sought to have a very American sound within symphonic tradition of composers like Dvořák and Copland. I feel this is a great place for me to start as I begin to develop my own symphonic language.
“New Frontier” was premiered by the La Verne Symphony Orchestra in November, 2013 at the University of La Verne.
I find that the natural beauty of America provides endless possibilities for musical inspiration. “Symphonic Picture No. 2: The American West” is also written in the symphonic tradition of Aaron Copland. I like to experiment with putting melodies and harmonies together to see what colors happen when things come together. I imagine places I’ve seen in person: the forest, the running stream, the night sky, the beauty of the American outdoors.
“Symphonic Picture No. 2: The American West” had its successful premier performance in December, 2015 with the La Verne Symphony Orchestra. I had the privilege to conduct the piece and witness a childhood dream of composing and conducting symphonic music become a reality.
“Symphonic Picture No. 3: Journey Across America” is inspired by the beauty and industry of America as well as by the struggles and victories of its people. One can think of the history of America while listening and move through time as well as across the continent in one’s imagination. I am particularly proud of this piece and look forward to the day when it will be performed by a live symphony.
“Symphonic Picture No. 7: Dona Nobis Pacem” is my newest symphonic picture. As the titles says, it is a prayer for peace. Our world today is in great need of peace and understanding between people. Music is one way we can come together to work and create something beautiful. The music is hopeful and passes the simple melody from one unique instrumental voice to the other.
This piece will be premiered by the La Verne Symphony Orchestra in April, 2017.