My three études were premiered at Delta State University on April 12, 2005, by Lois Yu. They won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Music Composition award, awarded to one person in the state a year (including anyone who moved away from Mississippi). I do not include scores of these here, but you can e-mail me for them.
I wrote the first étude, subtitled “The Battle,” around the age of 14. It starts off with a quotation from one of Liszt’s Transcendental Études and goes from there.
I wrote the second étude, subtitled “Defeat,” around the age of 15. It is based on a tune from Final Fantasy VI, but heavily modified and given a slower treatment.
I wrote the third étude, “Toccata,” when I was 16. It uses a similar figure to Prokofiev’s Op. 11 Toccata, but uses more of the tonal language of Roy Harris.
Four Mississippi Sketches
The following work is a collection of sketches of the state of Mississippi. They were premiered at Cleveland First United Methodist Church by Lois Yu.
The first movement, “Foothills of the East” takes place in Northeast Mississippi, wherein exist the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It opens with a vast scene of a slow sunrise over the foggy hills, then bursts into a festival of mountain-like music in the D Mixolydian mode. The mood is then reset and brought to a more church-like feeling by bringing the leading tone back into the tonality with a new theme. After a few different variations on that melody, the festival begins again as it was, then incorporating that second melody into the festival style. The sketch ends with one loud chord.
The second movement, “The Central Region,” is of the central region. It is represented with busy hammering and industry. Therefore, I have a very hammered opening section. It explores the different hilly landscapes until it reaches a pasture, which is indicated by the slowest 6/8 section. It then returns to that earlier hammering motive, which incorporates that old theme from the pasture near the end. The sketch ends with two soft chords.
The third movement, “The Southern Beaches,” is of the coast. The opening section is a soft and calm beach scene, which imitates the ebb and flow of the ocean waves onto the beach. Interrupting this serenity is the music of the casinos, a very large function of that region. That music is turned minor and retreats upon the first thundercloud. This opens the second section, the hurricane. After much whirring and introducing the next reel-esque melody followed by chunks of casino, the storm ends and after a long pause, the beach scene returns. This represents the determination to return the coast to its previous form. The melody is presented in its pristine condition. The sketch ends with three soft chords.
The fourth movement, “The Delta,” is based on the Northwestern area of the state. It opens with a musical interpretation of the landscape, which is famously very flat. Therefore, the piece employs a repeated drone of D (for Delta). Both D and Delta are the fourth letters of their respective alphabets, and this is the fourth sketch. After the melody is introduced, the sun sets. Then, nightfall is represented. This opens the long second section, which represents the sweltering poorer regions of the area. After this section is a short, humorous representation of the mosquito, which is extremely common in the region. When the mosquito is swatted and falls to its death, the third section opens with a motive similar to that of the first sketch. It repeats the melodies of each section, then finally ends on a loud set of cadences with a blues-scale cadence among them. The sketch ends with four loud chords.
Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled
My anthem, “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled,” was written for my grandmother, whose favorite passage of scripture is the text. It was double-premiered on April 5, 2011, by the Louisiana State University Chamber Singers in Baton Rouge, LA, under the direction of Carrie Stephens, and the Delta State University Chamber Singers, in Cleveland, MS, under the direction of Richard Waters. If you’d like to perform this piece, please let me know.