Chamber Music

Rinconcito (2018)

Performed by Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

For guitar, violin, viola, and cello

Rinconcito gets its name from one of my mother’s favorite songs: Rinconcito En El Cielo by Ramón Ayala. As a kid I always loved the idea of there being a little corner of heaven that one could visit with a friend or lover. Of course, as I grew older it dawned on me that the lyrics had a much more adult meaning! However, the image of there being a secret corner in the sky for friends has never left me. Though I don’t use any of the music from Ayala’s beautiful song, this piece is about ancestors in the way I imagined it as a child.

Rinconcito is about a meeting place for the dead and the living. My Grandpa Garcia, an accordionist who taught me to play rancheras and corridos as a kid, used to tell me that music is the only thing that people in heaven and people on earth share. When I was young, I imagined one could make music with the ancestors in heaven. This work takes elements of traditional New Mexican music but reconfigures them and distills them to the point of sometimes being unrecognizable.

In this piece, you will hear thirds and fourths that alternate both high and low. In my mind, the pure intervals of fourths and fifths are the intervals of the ancestors. Thirds and sixths are the intervals of the living. The piece opens up atmospherically, like an unsteady first contact, before a level of rapport is established and the thirds and fourths intermingle effortlessly. The primary guitar motive is constructed of a third and a fourth together, symbolizing the tangible shared music of heaven and earth. Before long the piece leaps into a fast dance, using common features of Southwestern music, and then the slower, atmospheric music returns, with the ancestors saying goodbye for now.

The work is inspired by my upbringing in New Mexico and my two grandfathers, one of whom passed away recently: Gilbert Benavides (1929-2018) and Eddie Garcia (1933-). They were and are as New Mexican as New Mexican can be and served as a strong cultural connection to the old way of life in the Land of Enchantment. As I have one grandparent left, I’ve become painfully aware of the fragility of our connection to the past and the need to actively maintain it. Each new generation inherits this link, and I hope through music like this to play my part in preserving it. Though I have until now infrequently looked inward toward my own culture for inspiration, I’ve very much enjoyed the process and hope that this is the beginning of a new series of pieces where I explore the theme of what it means to be New Mexican.

A big thank you to Left Coast and Will and Linda Schieber for making this commission possible.

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None of us was overly concerned... Movement II (2015)

Performed by Guerrilla Composers Guild

For flute, cello, and piano

Performed by the Guerrilla Composers Ensemble
Presented by Composers Inc

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Ghost Trap (2017)

Performed by Siroko Duo

For two flutes and live electronics

Performed by Siroko Duo (Jessie Nucho and Tori Hauk, flutes). Ghost Trap is a piece commissioned by Siroko Duo and the Guerrilla Composers Guild. The piece was written during a coresidency with the performers and composers at Avaloch Farm Music Institute in New Hampshire. 

In this work, the flutes encounter a ghostly flute that plays along with them, sometimes serving as a foe and sometimes as a friend. As they get used to it, they eventually play an electroacoustic climax before the flutes fade away...


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For Max and Hannah (2015)

Performed by Carla Fabris and the Balboa Players

For harp and string quartet. 

Music written for my friends Max and Hannah. Performed at the Balboa Theater in San Francisco as part of their black and white silent film series. Performers: Carla Fabris, Katie Von Braun, Abigail Shiman, Natalie Raney, Paula Karolak Film: Children in the Surf (1904), Panorama of Ocean Beach and Cliff House (1903).

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None of us was overly concerned... Movement I (2014)

Performed by Phonochrome

For flute, cello, and piano

Performed by Elizabeth Talbert (flute), Laura Gaynon (cello), and Anne Rainwater (piano) "...none of us were overly concerned..." 

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Otto’s Ornithopter

Performed by fellows of the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab

(Dan Reifsteck, Jess Tsang, Nicole Patrick, Jess Tsang, Karen Yu, and Allison Wright)

This piece was workshopped and premiered at the Blackbird Creative Lab in Ojai, CA, and performed as part of the showcase concert. The percussion and trumpet evoke a zany piece about human powered flight and the imagined experimental process of Otto Lilienthal, who dreamed of building ornithopters.

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The Color Festivals (2016)

Performed by Elevate Ensemble

For harpsichord and string quartet.

Performance by Derek Tam, harpsichord, with Elevate Ensemble, Chad Goodman, artistic director. ( 
I. The Enchanted Tree
II. Discontented Dewdrop  
III. The Grumpies
IV. Towser
V. The Land of "I Forgot" 
VI. The Magic Gloves
The Color Festivals, as explained by Nick: When I was young, my dad loved to find out-of-print story books and read them to me, as if they were lost treasures. This set is based on the book Told by the Sandman written by Abbie Phillips Walker in 1916. This is the 100 year anniversary of these stories. Of all of the books my dad read to me, this one stood out the most.

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Recyclate (2015)

Performed by Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

For flute, oboe, bass clarinet, violin, viola, and cello.

Performed and commissioned by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble ( at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Inspired by El Anatsui's Hovor II in the de Young Museum. This piece is about bringing together different types of recycled material and refuse floating around in my head to make something that is very me, but very pastiche at the same time.

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On Breathing (2015)

Performed by Ignition Duo

For two electric guitars

The Guerrilla Composers Guild is joining forces with the Ignition Duo to explore, examine, and exponentially expand the repertoire for two electric guitars at the Center for New Music. Forged in 2011 by David Gonzales and Ramon Fermin, Ignition Duo has set out to create a new and vital repertoire for two guitars.

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Bog Bodies & Other Macabre Miniatures (2014)

Performed by Guerrilla Composers Guild

For flute, electric guitar, cello, and marimba

I. Old Croghan Man - Lennie's Dream
II. The Girl of Uchter Moor - Summer of '69
III. Tollund Man - In Cold Blood
IV. The Lovers of Valdaro - "Parting is such sweet sorrow"
V. Ötzi - The Iceman

In Northern Europe it is not uncommon to find naturally mummified remains of ancient people in peat bogs, which perfectly preserve bodies in an oxygen deficient environment. Often forensics experts will think they have encountered a crime scene, only to realize these individuals have been deceased for thousands of years. All of these bodies have a different story to tell and each of these miniatures explores the emotions and experiences of their final moments alive through a mixture of both fact and fantasy. John Angel, guitar Elizabeth Hall, marimba Christy Kim, flute Helen Newby, cello

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Copycat (2016)

Performed by Areon Flutes

For three flutes

The Guerrilla Composers Guild is joining forces with the Areon Flutes to build and expand the flute repertoire

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Petrichor (2011)

Performed by members of the International Contemporary Ensemble

For bassoon, violin, cello, vibraphone, piano

This track was performed by members of the International Contemporary Ensemble at Walden School's Creative Musician's Retreat.