Being an American composer means being influenced not only by the great European composers of the past, but also by jazz, musical theater, film and world musics of our own time. Such influences can contribute to an enormous range of expression. But to master that range, a composer must escape from the kind of thinking typical of the mid 20th century, in which the act of composition was seen as an experiment in rebellion against tradition, with the goal of identifying one's self with a distinct "personal style."
While the music of a great composer may exhibit a recognizable personality, as is the case with such masters as Bach, Wagner or Stravinsky, it is difficult to pin down that personality in purely stylistic terms, Compare the B Minor Mass with the St. Matthew Passion or with any of the Brandenburg Concerti -- or compare Parsifal with Tristan or Meistersinger -- or compare Le Sacre with Firebird or Symphony of Psalms. In each case the composer's personality and mastery are clearly recognizable, but the style and technical means are quite different. In each case, the composer is able to bring to bear exactly those compositional techniques and stylistic features that create the desired result. These composers did not try to gain their place in history by identifying themselves with a limited set of experimental stylistic practices. Instead, they focused on creating meaningful musical experiences by freely drawing on whatever techniques were available.
Unfortunately, the legacy of 20th-century experimentation has been to make the music-loving public extremely wary of ALL new music. They are more interested in safe masterpieces than in experiments. The same audience that eagerly embraces new theater, movies, literature and popular music now shuns new musical experiences in the concert hall -- a fact reflected in the limited repertoire of symphony orchestras and opera companies. Although the era of musical innovation for its own sake seems now to have passed away quietly, serious composers of today face not only the challenge of harnessing and mastering the broad musical language itself, but also that of reaching out and building a receptive audience for their work -- a task made even more difficult by lack of opportunity to establish any meaningful rapport with that audience. Without such a rapport, it is questionable whether a composer can develop to his or her true capacity.
The Internet offers opportunity to reach people outside the concert hall. For that reason, I have now placed a great deal of my life's work on this website. At present that amounts to about ten hours of music. Don't expect an identifiable "personal style." Although my music is extremely eclectic, it does not try to be original at all costs. It does try, however, to be satisfying to listen to.
By pointing the cursor to “Publications” above, a list of pages containing more than fifty of my works will drop down. These works can easily be heard by clicking on their playback YouTube icons. In the case of vocal music, the texts are displayed during the performance. In addition, you can view complete scores by clicking on the accompanying PDF icons.
For more information, call 336-772-4108, or write to JMJ Music Publishers, 1409 Northfield St., Greensboro, NC 27403.
(The music you are hearing now is a collection of my works, mostly for strings. )