Artistic Philosophy

My compositional voice and musical temperament owe much to my teachers, particularly George Crumb. I have also taken inspiration from many in the European classical tradition, including Mahler, Debussy, Britten, Verdi, and Brahms. Each of my compositions creates a sense of journey towards a destination. Along the way themes, rhythms, and instrumental timbres recur, taking on new emotional significance. One often experiences the sensation of hearing something familiar, if only half-remembered.  

Having studied in Indonesia — and also having taught Balinese Gamelan for over twenty years — I am often asked how Gamelan influences my music.  There are many overlapping answers.  I have certainly absorbed Balinese textures, rhythms, and melodic structures.  Less obvious, perhaps, are the cultural lessons. One example: in Bali, Gamelan is a potent social force, a community gathering point where there is little distinction between performers and audience. Emulating that model, I try to create music befitting its circumstances: music that is well designed for its intended performers and accessible — yet engaging — for its anticipated audience. Another example: most Balinese musicians maintain a fierce faith in the continued power of traditional forms and practices. For them, imaginative new music embraces ancient tradition: not as an impediment to creativity, but rather as a spur, a means of engaging with and ameliorating the modern world’s chaos. Thus, my Indonesian experience, perhaps paradoxically, encourages me to seek out sustenance from my own classical training.