selected compositions

 
 

* = indicates work(s) in progress
~all titles are correctly stylized on this page

solos:

among Verticals

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~for alto saxophone
~approx. 6-8min
~written in late winter 2018 for Keaton Garrett

~premiered in february 2019

 
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“of all the [stars] the most beautiful“

(score preview)

~for electric guitar + pedals
~approx. 7-12min
~written in fall 2018 for Andrew Noseworthy

The title/text of this piece comes from translations by Canadian poet Anne Carson. In her book ‘If not, Winter,’ she translates poem fragments from the ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho. Although written for electric guitar in 2018, I was moved by the text to write this piece in a similar style to how lyric poetry worked in ancient Greece, and was also drawn to the idea of fragments. In ancient Greece, a poet would sing or speak lines, accompanied by stringed instruments like lyres--thus creating ‘lyric’ poetry. In this piece, the performer speaks selected translations, and the musical content contains fragments and/or deconstructions of ancient Greek modes and melodies re-imagined in various contemporary styles.

~abbreviated version (5min) premiered at the 2019 Poetry Project New Years’ Marathon

 
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mosaic

(score preview)

~for piano
~approx. 6min
~written in summer 2018

This piece came about in thinking of identity. There are many facets of my own identity that until a few years ago, I’d think of as separate entities/issues--race, gender, sexuality & class. Following the election of Donald Tr*mp and the ensuing socio-political trauma inflicted on US citizens (including myself), I was forced to think of these categories of my identity as interconnected parts that for the most part, could not be separate from each other.

‘Tesserae’ are individual tiles that are used to create mosaics--this piece is constructed of various ‘tesserae’ that are small cells, ideas or motives that are then repeated and/or expanded. Zoomed in, there are tiny parts that seem a bit disjointed, but when you zoom out, these small parts make up a larger, cohesive image/affect.

~ premiered by Andrea Lodge in february 2019 at the NYU Pulsing & Shaking festival

———

In October 2018, mosaic was featured as the Score of the Month for the Ossia Project. The score was released to subscribers on Issuu, the project's distribution platform. The Ossia Project is a crowd-sourced micro-commissioning fund, who's mission is to work with subscribers to create regular, accessible opportunities for composers, to support the creation of new works.  

http://www.gordonhwilliams.com/ossiaproject/
www.gordonhwilliams.com/ossia-project-subscription-for

 

chamber:

POWER/gone*

~for percussion quartet
~approx. 6min
~being written for Sō Percussion

a WIP drawing from the influence of work songs— from African American field/work songs, agricultural arhoolies, industrial & prison songs, military cadences & so on.

 

sequoia

~for two flower pot players + tape (triggered by live plants)
~approx. 5min
~written in spring 2019

  1. From Sequoioideae Wikipedia: The redwood species contains the largest and tallest trees in the world. These trees can live thousands of years. This is an endangered subfamily due to habitat losses from fire ecology suppression, logging, and air pollution.

  2. From google search “What percentage of redwoods are left?”: Since logging began in the 1850s, 95 percent of old-growth coast redwoods have been cut down, according to the Sempervirens Fund. Today, many redwoods exist in protected forests and parks.

~version 1.0 to be premiered at Sō Percussion Summer Institute 2019

 

place

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~for soprano/mezzo + tape
~approx. 3min
~written in early winter 2019 for Quince Ensemble
~with beat by Christian Melhado

“The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.” - James Baldwin

The music my parents listen(ed) to, & the music of my childhood consisted of almost entirely hip-hop/rap & RnB. Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer win for DAMN. in 2018 is perhaps the first time in my lifetime that hip-hop music has been put on such a scale--& that this type of music has been widely recognized as not only ‘good,’ but deserving of a place among ‘intellectual,’ ‘academic,’ ‘classical’--whatever you want to call it--music. This piece stems from that, but is also a playful experiment in pairing & coalescing some of the interesting, ‘weird’ & seemingly ‘misplaced’ sounds of contemporary classical vocal music with nonsense syllablesderived from jazz scat singing & ad libs associated with trap music.

~premiered in may 2019 at the ‘Nevermind the Noise’ collective concert with Quince Ensemble

 

Photism

~for 2 or more performers with lights (version 1) or found objects (version 2)
~duration open (≥ 3min)
~written in early winter 2019

from Wikipedia:

  1. Photism: (psychology) a luminous appearance, image or subjective perception of a hallucinatory nature (1); the color that a synesthete may report seeing in association with a particular letter or number.

  2. Synthesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. People who report a lifelong history of such experiences are known as synesthetes.

~premiered in april 2019 by the Dinner Party Ensemble

 

firn

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(score preview)

~for violin/cello/marimba
~approx. 7.5min
~written in 2018-19

from Wikipedia:

  1. Firn is a partially compacted névé, a type of snow that has been left over from past seasons and has been recrystallized into a substance denser than névé. It is ice that is an intermediate stage between snow and glacial ice.

  2. Repressed memories are memories that have been unconsciously blocked due to the memory being associated with a high level of stress or trauma. The theory postulates that even though the individual cannot recall the memory, it may still be affecting them subconsciously, and that these memories can emerge later into the consciousness.

~to be premiered in june 2019 by the new National Sawdust Ensemble at the Hildegard Competition Concert

 

dis[armed]

~for percussion duo (steel pan/snare/kick/vibraphone/newspaper) + tape
~approx. 17min
~written in 2018-19 for Washington Squared Duo

dis[armed]is scored for percussion duo with tape, originally written for Washington Squared(Nick Gigante & Yang Chen). This piece is my attempt at exploring the conversation surrounding gun violence--particularly mass shootings and the killing of unarmed Black people by police in the US. It pulls audio from various interviews by parents and victims of different shootings that have occured during my lifetime: the murders of Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark, and Michael Brown, and the Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightcluband Parkland High Schoolshootings; as well as audio from 2nd amendment marches, Chicago gang violence news coverage, and news coverage of the murder of Jemel Roberson.

Through this piece, I’ve tried to put the separate but related occurrences in dialogue, and parce out my own feelings, meditations and confusion surrounding gun violence/control and legislature. It is my hope that people begin putting both mass shootings and police brutality in the same conversation when trying to figure out where to go from here. & that there is somewhere better to go.

~partially performed (movements 2-4) in march 2019 as part of Sō Percussion’s Brooklyn Bound series & in a recital of music performed by W2 & Nicholas Hall
~premiered (in full) in may 2019 as part of the W2 call for scores program at Sō Percussion studio

 

echo

(score preview)

~for violin duo
~approx. 3min
~written in summer 2018 for Nikolas & Anika Schreiber-Loeis

As the title suggests--the players constantly 'echo' one another throughout the piece, either displacing similar lines by a rest, or with polyrhythms. It is entirely pizzicato and requires the performers to occasionally knock (lightly!) on the wood of their instruments.

~premiered at the 2018 NYU Youth Music Festival

 


”like stars or cranes”

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~for string quartet
~approx. 7.5min
~written in spring 2018 for the NYU Words & Sounds concert

(score preview)

“like stars or cranes” is a single-movement quartet based on Jay Julio’s poem eights or nines. I drew inspiration from the stanza:

send what you love above you
                          like stars or cranes
                                       across the sea
         we loosed fireworks in my tito’s
                    backyard and sent his body home
       in two different summers
so i don’t look up when i hear shots in New York

 


”blue of distance”

~for alto/violin/tenor steel pan/bass clarinet
~approx. 6.5min
~written in early winter 2018

(score preview)

"...the blue of the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into
the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest
reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This
light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light
that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the
color blue." - Rebecca Solnit


large ensemble: