Chamber Music 

Jalopyroar (2019)

for Trombone and Fixed Media

Composed for Rob Earhart

Duration: 6 minutes

Jalopyroar
00:00 / 06:09

Never Awake and (2019)

for Flute, Clarinet, and Piano

Commissioned and Premiered as a part of the

2019 Fresh Inc. Festival

on June 15th, 2019

at Constellation in Chicago, Il

Duration: 7 minutes

Everyone puts up shields in life to hide everyday pain from the people around them, and as much as someone would like to distance their coping mechanisms from who they are, they will always be part of their identity. I, like everyone else, experience anger, sadness, and at times, low self-esteem, and it’s easy for me to cover those negative emotions with self-deprecating humor or to use humor as a way to mask what I want or need from myself and others.

“Never Awake and” is scherzo-like in nature while also using slow passages and serial techniques to uncover the more serious nature underneath. The piece is also cyclical and constantly returning to old material as it refuses to allow other contrasting sections to take center-stage. Ultimately, this piece is about the inability to address and ask for what we truly need while also expressing the figurative shields we carry in life when we want to hide that pain.

A Fairytale (2018)

for Violin and Cello

Composed for and Performed by

Hyeyung Yoon and Gregory Beaver

 

Duration: 2 minutes

A Fairytale
00:00 / 01:36

name;known (2019)

for Flute, Clarinet,

Violin, Cello, and Piano

Commissioned by The Four Corners Ensemble

Premiered on "Migration" Concert 

at OPERA America, on November 23rd, 2019

Duration: 8 minutes

name;known | Recitative
00:00 / 01:45
name;known | Crossing the Threshold
00:00 / 03:48
name;known | Abyss
00:00 / 01:49
name;known | Arrival Dances
00:00 / 02:11

Many life moments are universal, and sharing emotions through storytelling is a valuable tool for bringing people together and making us feel like we’re not alone. The Hero’s Journey, also known as the monomyth, was a story-structure that was first popularized by Joseph Campbell. He noticed that many myths, not all, follow a similar pattern of events. In the same way that many stories share similar events and structures, people react with similar emotions when confronted with big life moments. Through this piece, name;known, I wanted to explore the universality of emotions within storytelling while using the monomyth as a guide.

 

Recitative is about the process one goes through when we receive a call to action. How do you rationalize taking on something unknown and daunting? The trills and fast runs in the movement evoke the intense thinking that goes into making the ultimate plunge.

 

Crossing the Threshold follows the growing anticipation of entering into that something new. The music is constantly unsettling and reaffirming itself as the harmonies and rhythms reach arrival points and then immediately change. The movement, while energetic and exciting, is anxious in nature.

 

Abyss is the emotionally lowest point of the piece. You just hit rock bottom. The slow-moving and transparent textures create a sense of hopelessness and fear; that whatever your goal was, it is now futile and impossible. However, the movement ends with a quote from the first movement and reminds the listener that the original call to action is still meaningful.

 

Arrival Dances explores both the euphoria of having accomplished something as well as the uncertainty that follows the completion of that task. The movement follows a rondo form, bringing back and venturing into different sections while never allowing the celebratory main theme to take hold for too long.

 

While we’re experiencing this journey, we feel anxiety, fear, and nervousness all with a fear of unknown, but the knowledge that these experiences are universal is inherently comforting.

The Bird Cage (2018)

for Saxophone Quartet (AATB)

The Bird Cage
00:00 / 03:00

Composed as part of the

New Britain Museum of American Art, Hartt Community Division, and Hartt Composition Collaboration

Premiered on April 28th, 2018

at the New Britain Museum of American Art

Duration: 3 minutes

The piece was inspired by The Bird Cage, a painting by Frederick Carl Frieseke. The painting, housed in the New Britain Museum of American Art, struck me because of it’s intense colors and the way the two bird figures in the painting blended into the garden background. The piece involves flourishing ostinatos which move through all the different saxophones in the quartet. This blending of birdcall-inspired motives and ostinatos creates a colorful background on which the piece develops. The piece ends, however, in a restrained way. The other figure in the painting is a woman in a blue dress with an exposed shoulder. The painting as a whole represents the confined nature of being a woman as well as the somewhat erotic desire to be free.

Saturn Devouring

His Son (2018)

for Solo Cello

Commissioned and Premiered by Benjamin Stayer

on September 16th, 2018

as a part of his recital: I Hartt Cello

Based on the Painting by Francisco Goya

Duration: 4 minutes

Lost (2018)

Concerto for Solo Double Bass

and Chamber Ensemble

Lost
00:00 / 10:35

Premiered by Hartt's Foot in the Door Ensemble

on March 14th, 2018

Conducted by Ziwei Ma

Double Bass Solo by Grant Blaschka

Duration: 10 minutes

I'll Go (2017)

for Viola and Piano

I'll Go
00:00 / 05:01

Premiered by Gris Moreno, Viola,

and Dax Avery, Piano

on April 11th, 2018

Duration: 5 minutes

Docthyac (2017)

for Piano Four-Handso

Docthyac
00:00 / 04:40

Premiered on the Hartt Spring

Freshman Composer's Recital

by Dax Avery and Sawyer Harrington-Verb

Duration: 5 minutes

Essay (2017)

for Cello and Piano

Essay
00:00 / 05:04

Premiered on the Hartt Public Works Recital

by Noah Marconi, Cello 

and Sirakanjana Seradi, Piano

 

Duration: 5 minutes

Three Too Many (2017)

for Solo Djembe

Three Too Many
00:00 / 02:26

Performed by Devon Cupo

 

Duration: 3 minutes

Pangu (2016)

for Didgeridoo and Piano

Pangu
00:00 / 05:46

Premiered on the Hartt Fall

Freshman Composer's Recital

Premiered by Jonathan Weir, Piano

and Sawyer Harrington-Verb, Didgeridoo

Duration: 6 minutes

Pangu, in Chinese and specifically Taoist mythology, was the original creator god. Before Pangu, the entire world was nothing but formless chaos made up of Yin and Yang. Eventually, it took the shape of an egg, an egg that bore Pangu. In the egg, Yin and Yang fought for thousands of years until Pangu, with a mighty ax, separated the two. He stood between the two forces for thousands of years, pushing them apart. Yin became the murky and low earth while Yang became the clear sky. Pangu, while pushing these forces apart, stretched his body so far that he became a giant. Once Yin and Yang were far enough apart from each other, Pangu rested from his tiring work and died. His body began to morph into the sphere of the earth. His breath became the wind, mist, and clouds; his voice, thunder; his left eye, the sun; his right eye, the moon; his head, the mountains and extremes of the world; his blood, rivers; his muscles, fertile land; his facial hair, the stars and Milky Way; his fur, bushes and forests; his bones, valuable minerals; his bone marrow, sacred diamonds; his sweat, rain; and the fleas on his fur carried by the wind became animals.

The didgeridoo and the piano are as different as two instruments can be. The didgeridoo can play a very minimal amount of pitches, however, it has a wide spectrum of timbres and effects that transform those few pitches into those of a versatile instrument. The piano can play 88 different pitches, however, beyond different dynamics, the timbres of those pitches are relatively fixed. These two instruments represent Yin and Yang; two total opposites. They begin the piece on the same pitch, as if they are occupying the same space, and then slowly move from monophony to dissonance. The piece moves then from dissonance to total chaos as "Pangu" attempts to separate these two forces. Finally, they reach a long period of consonance. with only small bursts of dissonance. The piece ends with the didgeridoo becoming a low foundation and the piano ending high above it. The piece revolves around separation and finding that point of harmony in the chaos of the world.

© 2019 by Sawyer Harrington-Verb. 

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