The Witch On Bear Mountain

Iktus Duo (Christopher Graham, percussion and Hristina Blagoeve, flute) are taking a new piece I wrote for them on their tour through Texas and Louisiana. The piece, The Witch On Bear Mountain, features a lot of intricate interplay between the two instruments and explores some deep subtleties of a pitch-noise spectrum. I am very excited to have Chris and Hristina be a part, not only of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Guest Artist Recital series, but also a part of Versipel New Music’s Visiting Artist Series at Cafe Istanbul in New Orleans. Also on their program:

Joseph Pereira: “Echi Dromo for flute and dumbek”
Lou Harrison: First Concerto for flute and percussion
Cornelius Cardew: Treatise (selected excerpt)
Mark Engebretson: Duo for flute & percussion “Floam” and “Whac-a-mole”

Concert dates and locations.

1/21/15 – The Witch On Bear Mountain performed by the Iktus Duo, University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX

1/22/15 – The Witch On Bear Mountain performed by the Iktus Duo, Hardin Simmons University, Abilene, TX

1/27/15 – The Witch On Bear Mountain performed by the Iktus Duo for Versipel New Music Guest Artist Series Concert, Cafe Istanbul, New Orleans, LA

1/28/15 – The Witch On Bear Mountain performed by the Iktus Duo for Guest Artist Series Concert, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond

Check out these short excerpts of the score:

Witch_1 Witch_2 Witch_3

Fireflies were making decodable signals on behalf of stranded spirits…

Fireflies Excerpt p4

Excerpt of the score to “…fireflies were making decodable signals on behalf of stranded spirits…”


“…fireflies were making decodable signals on behalf of stranded spirits, or that a bat was writing a legible tale of torture in the bruised and branded sky”.

This is the title of my new piece for bass clarinet and vibraphone (with auxiliary wood and metal objects) that will be premiered on October 9th at the Marigny Opera House in New Orleans, Louisiana. The piece, written for Christa Van Alstine and Michael McCurdy, is going to be a part of the Versipel New Music inaugural concert which will also include works by Kari Besharse, Max Duykers, Yotam Haber, David Lang, and Tristan Perich.

The title, intentionally capacious (to the point of absurdity) is taken from a striking passage in Vladimir Nabakov’s Pale Fire (from which the title of Versipel was also taken). To me, this passage references an attempt to capture the essence of an ephemeral moment, precious yet fleeting

More than any work I have written so far, this work really pushes the idea of contrast. The instruments oscillate between disparate extremes of tempo, dynamic, color, and gesture while fluctuating into eerily serene patterns. I’m truly looking forward to hearing Christa and Mike realize this music!

Summer News


Embers Release:

First and foremost, I am thrilled to announce the preliminary release of Embers, a recording of saxophone music with piano and electronics featuring saxophonist Richard Schwartz. This album features three works of mine (Intervals I, Interruptions IIIand Driftwood Box Puzzle) as well as works by Kari Besharse, Ray Pizzi, and Stephen Suber (and performances by Schwartz, Kenneth Boulton, and myself). The recording is a new release by Centaur Records that will have a full release and distribution around October (through such outlets as Amazon and iTunes). At the moment, however, requests for advanced copies of the compact disc can be made through an e-mail inquiry: wheelitzo [at] gmail [dot] com:




By the way, there are *lots* of people that need thanking for making this album a reality. I will be posting this list of wonderful people very soon!


Versipel New Music:

Versipel New Music is a new organization founded by my wife Kari Besharse and myself and fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas. It is dedicated to presenting high-quality, innovative performances of new classical music to the New Orleans area and to educating the public about exciting and stylistically diverse works written by living composers both around the world and at home in Louisiana today.

Versipel has an exciting lineup for its inaugural season which kicks off in October (2014) and features guest artists Christa Van Alstine (clarinet, bass clarinet) and Michael McCurdy (percussion) at the Marigny Opera House. Christa and Mike are based in New York City and will be bringing a diverse program of new and newly commissioned chamber works that they will be playing along with members of the Versipel collective. Check out more details about Versipel (and how to donate to its cause) at its website:




Performances and Commissions:

For the upcoming Versipel New Music season (see above), I have the privilege of writing a new work for Christa Van Alstine and Mike McCurdy (duo for bass clarinet and percussion). Additional Versipel concerts will feature new works for the Iktus Duo (flute and percussion) and for pianist Mabel Kwan.

Monochrome Variations for cello and live electronic is receiving two performances in the foreseeable future, both by cellist Craig Hultgren (for whom the piece was written). The first performance will be on August 23rd as part of the Birmingham New Music Festival, and the following performance will be at the Electronic Music Midwest Festival in October.

Stay tuned for more details on future performances (including the premiere of my tuba-euphonium quartet), and thanks for caring and supporting my music! It means a lot!



Patchwork Vespers

Sometimes it takes a little while between writing the double bar and hearing its realization. By some measures, four years isn’t that long an interval for such a wait, but for me it felt like an eternity. Bay area musicians Rachel Condry (bass clarinet) and Megan Shieh (vibraphone, suspended cymbal) made the wait worthwhile. Here’s an excerpt of their performance from June 21st at the Festival of Contemporary Music at Trinity Chapel in Berkeley, California:

Upcoming Concerts!

Lots of great stuff lined up for the beginning of next year!

Upcoming Concerts:

2/3/14 – Particle Fountain for piano/percussion quartet commissioned by Yarn/Wire. University of Louisiana at Monroe, Monroe, LA [world premiere]

2/5/14 – Particle Fountain for piano/percussion quartet commissioned by Yarn/Wire. Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA

2/7/14 – Particle Fountain for piano/percussion quartet commissioned by Yarn/Wire. Friday Musicale, Jacksonville, FL

2/8/14 – Particle Fountain for piano/percussion quartet commissioned by Yarn/Wire. University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL

2/13/14 – Duet For Quartet for percussion quartet, College Music Society Southern/Mid-Atlantic Joint Conference – University of Tennesee, Knoxville, TN

3/20-23/14 – Driftwood Box Puzzle for alto saxophone, piano, and electronics – North American Saxophone Alliance National Conference – University of Illinois – Champaign-Urbana, Urbana, IL – Richard Schwartz, alto saxophone & Philip Schuessler, piano

3/27/14 – Driftwood Box Puzzle – Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) National Conference – Wesleyan University, CT – Sean Sonderegger, alto saxophone & Philip Schuessler, piano

3/29/14 – Intervals I for alto saxophone and piano – College Music Society Great Lakes Regional Conference, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND

5/2014 – Rube-Goldberg Variations [world premiere] for tuba quartet commissioned by Dr. Brian Gallion – International Tuba-Euphonium Association Conference, University of Indiana

Performance of Glass Abattoir by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia student performers – [exact date, time, and location TBA]

Kickstarter for “Embers”

The forthcoming studio project entitled Embers is set for release on the Centaur label and features contemporary chamber music for saxophone, piano, and electronics. Saxophonist Richard Schwartz, along with pianists Kenneth Boulton and Philip Schuessler, perform the works of Kari Besharse, Ray Pizzi, Schuessler, and Stephen Suber. This collection represents a diversity of styles and approaches to saxophone composition and performance practice.

We just went live with a Kickstarter site to help raise funds for the project. Please circulate the link to your heart’s content:

Embers Kickstarter



Summer News

Happy summer!

This summer, I have had the pleasure of working with Richard Schwartz, both as composer and performer, on a new recording project that is being set for release later this year on the Centaur Label. The project is a collection of chamber works for alto saxophone along with piano and computer generated sound in various combinations by composers Kari Besharse (my lovely wife!), Stephen Suber, Ray Pizzi, and myself. Recording engineer Bill Kelley and I are currently working on editing the recordings. It has been an incredible experience; I’ve been learning a great deal about the recording process along the way.I think that one will find this album to be a very refreshing mix of works by composers of diverse voice and direction, and I very much look forward to the release!

In other news, I’m pleased to announce that the score for my work Still Life With Wave for flute and alto saxophone has been published by Potenza Music. Potenza has shown great support for my music, and I am grateful for their publishing of it. The work was written for the Duo Fujin 2012 Weekend Composition Competition, and it continues my fascination with tightly-wound rhythmic structures that interlock and collapse in various ways.

Glass Abattoir in the Studio


Some very dedicated performers take on Glass Abattoir for three speaking (and drinking!) percussionists. This studio session was recorded for a radio broadcast at KSUA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks by Ensemble 64.8 (Kaylee Bonatakis, Chris Lennard, and Matt Roberts). This work combines narratives about three very different political conflicts from three different time periods of the United States. Follow the water! Enjoy!

Driftwood Box Puzzle

Driftwood Box Puzzle for alto saxophone, piano, and computer generated sound receives its premiere on Saturday, March 2nd at the North American Saxophone Alliance Regional Conference at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Richard Schwartz will be playing alto saxophone, and I will be playing piano.

The work intersperses free sections with tightly-wound components. The free sections have each instrument working through independent pitch cells moving at different rates, drifting in and out of “phase,” while the stricter sections unify the cells temporarily before a new “drift” begins.

Promo Video for Iktus Concert (on January 25th)

Iktus prepares for Music At First from Iktus Percussion on Vimeo.

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