My oldest memory of any kind is of music. I remember being in church. Just 3 years old at the time, I wasn't tall enough to see over the pew, but I sat in awe, immersed in the sound of the invisible pipe organ and choir. Many years later my piano solo CD, Offering, revisits those hymns which were the beginning of my musical journey. It also includes original compositions that try to recapture that same sense of awe and wonder that I felt when I was 3 years old.
In 2011 my wife and I visited Taiwan's Alishan National Scenic Area. This mountainous central region of Taiwan is a land of mist-shrouded fields of tea, bamboo forests, and cherry blossoms. I was inspired to compose a piece of music that is built simultaneously on two scales; one is a Chinese pentatonic scale, and the other is a Western minor scale. I hope the music captures some of the enchantment of Alishan.
I was born and raised in the Northeast, so when I think of winter I think of snow gently falling on brown pastures, skating on frozen lakes, and sipping hot cider. With this piece I was trying to create something in the style of an American folksong, with passages of counterpoint fluttering downward like falling snow.
William Blake said "the sky is an immortal tent."
I wrote a poem called "Graceful Sky," which says
Maybe the sky is an immortal tent,
a myriad of dancing souls
who greet one another by name
and share their stories of suffering,
though all their tears and pain are as far away
as the east is from the west.
Maybe on the other side of death,
some things still won't make sense,
but all things will be beautiful.
Leading up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, especially in the final months, I felt like our country was being torn apart by anger and pain. Immediately after election day I had to "fast" from social media for a week of quiet reflection. During this week the one word that kept coming to mind was "peace." I began to feel a release of emotions surging up within me, and without even rehearsing anything I just pressed record and played what I was feeling. I made a few simple changes, recorded it a second time, and here it is in its still somewhat primordial state. I sincerely pray that people on both ends of the political spectrum will be able to work together peacefully. I hope the images in the YouTube video also communicate this prayer.