Works for Chamber Ensemble
Green in Steel
12.5', for clarinet trio (Eb, Bb, Bass)
Green in Steel was commissioned by the fantastic clarinetist Alexandra Doyle for a program of 20th and 21st century works for chamber ensembles including the clarinet. Alex asked for a piece that described an aspect of the city of Houston, where Alex and I met (at the University of Houston) and where I lived for four years. During my time there, the green spaces of the city were a needed escape for someone who grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, and so this piece focuses on three of my favorite parks in the city.
I. Memorial | II. Menil | III. Hermann
Carrying Fire through Midnight Snow
8', for violin, clarinet, 'cello, and piano
Commissioned through the Sarofim Composition Competition at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music, Carrying Fire through Midnight Snow is an exploration of the emotional reactions we have to wilderness. On one hand are the feelings of wonder, an admiration of the size and scope and beauty of the landscape. On the other hand is the realization that there is nothing human-made for miles on any side, and that, were you to be stranded out here, there's a decent chance you wouldn't last the night. Our relationship with nature is intertwined with this dichotomy, and philosophers and nature writers have always understood that with the beauty of the wilderness comes serious danger. This piece explores that kaleidoscope of emotions, and is dedicated to the rangers and staff of Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in Alaska, who helped me to see understand the wilderness during my time there in the summer of 2013.
The piece was premiered by members of the AURA Contemporary Ensemble on November 18, 2013, at a performance at the Moores Opera House on the campus of the University of Houston.
The Singing Wilderness
4.5', for violin, clarinet, double bass, and piano
The Singing Wilderness is an exploration of the transformation a person can undergo when they choose to experience nature on its own terms, leaving behind (even briefly) the distractions of the 21st Century. The title comes from a book of the same name by Sigurd F. Olson which describes the way in which, once we hear and sense the beauty of unadulterated nature, "speed and turmoil are slowed to the pace of the seasons, and tensions are replaced with calm." This metamorphosis is mirrored in the piece, as the frenetic opening in the violin is interrupted by the calm of thewilderness and the sound of the birds of Denali, inviting the violin to join and sing. Though the violin eventually returns to its opening gesture, it has been changed by its journey, as are we all once we "glimpse the ancient glory and hear the singing wilderness."
The piece was composed during my time in Denali National Park as part of the Composing in the Wilderness seminar, and was premiered by faculty members of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival at a performance in Fairbanks on July 23, 2013.
11', for baritone, string quartet, and piano, text by Charles Baudelaire
Au Lecteur, "To the Reader", is a virtuosic single-movement work on a text by Charles Baudelaire. Baudelaire (1821-1867) was a French poet who turned a sharp and merciless eye to the degradation in French society in the middle of the nineteenth century. “Au Lecteur”, one of his most famous poems and the first in the collection Fleurs du Mal is a condemnation of the evils of humanity and an expression of Baudelaire's frustration that so few make an effort to turn away from those vices. Beyond the admonition to others is also an admission that Baudelaire himself is subject to the same foibles of his countrymen, and turns his revulsion inward as well as outward.
Au Lecteur was premiered by Trevor Martin and an ensemble from the University of Houston at a recital in the Spring of 2013.
1', for brass quintet, timpani, and organ
Easter Procession was commissioned by the Church of St. John the Divine, Houston, TX, and was premiered there on Easter Day 2013.
Click here to download a copy of the conductor's score. Contact the composer at samuel [at] samuelhunter [dot] net for parts.
8', for violin, 'cello, and piano
During the junior year of my undergraduate studies, I had the incredible opportunity to study music in the city of Arezzo, one of the oldest in Italy. The villa where my colleagues and I stayed was absolutely stunning, but getting to the villa (called the Accademia dell'Arte) from the main city of Arezzo required a long walk with an intensely steep hill at the very end. This piece (loosely) follows a climb up that hill after a long day, seeing the Accademia from the very bottom of the hill, the long climb, and then the promised arrival and a view of the sunset over the city below.
The piece was premiered by students at the Moores School of Music at a performance on November 30, 2012.
Study on "Veni Emmanuel"
2', for brass quintet
Written for conductor and dear friend Knox Sutterfield, this is a short, simple work for brass quintet on the familiar advent tune "Veni Emmanuel".
4', for violin, viola, 'cello, and piano
Written in 2010, Sláinte is a brief dance for piano and string trio. Fairly challenging technically, the piece opens and closes in 6/8 with a slower middle section.