National Flute Association 2015

Sophia Tegart and Helena Kopchick Spencer will perform Transformations at the National Flute Association Convention in Washington, DC on August 13, 2015.  Written for the duo in 2007, the work is a set of five miniatures inspired by poems from Anne Sexton’s eponymous collection.  The piece will be featured on a program entitled “Women of Note”.  Works by Jennifer Margaret Barker, Lili Boulanger, Mélanie Bonis, Amanda Harberg, Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, Kate Soper, and Germaine Tailleferre will also be presented.

Riot Ensemble Commission

2015-16 is shaping up to include a number of collaborations and premieres that I am extremely excited to start working on. The first of these is a commission from the UK-based Riot Ensemble.  As one of three winners from their recent Call for Scores, I will be composing a new work for soprano, flute, harpsichord, and two percussionists to be premiered in London on Nov. 17, 2015 (click here to read the official announcement).

Though a number of my recent works have featured flute and/or percussion, it’s been a couple years since I’ve written a vocal piece.  I’m looking forward to composing for the voice and working with text again. (Spoiler alert: one of my other commissions for next season also involves voice – check back soon for details!)  I’m also excited about the prospect of writing for harpsichord, which I’ve never before had a chance to include in any of my works.  If you’ve got any favorite works involving harpsichord, I’d love to check them out, so please share in the comments section!

Women and Music Volume 18 Now Available!

Women and Music: a Journal of Gender and Culture has just released a new volume, which includes my review of Jennifer Kelly’s book In Her Own Words.  The journal is available from the publisher or from digital services such as Project Muse, but here’s an excerpt from my article to get you started:

In the introduction to In Her Own Words: Conversations with Composers in the United States, Jennifer Kelly states that she asked each of her interviewees “whether she thought that there is a need for women-only concerts, festivals, and recordings” (6), a query that could easily be extended to books including only female composers. In the past two years, this controversial subject has received much debate in online new music circles due in part to articles on NewMusicBox and in the New York Times’s opinion series “The Score.” Throughout those writings and the present collection of interviews, three distinct perspectives appear on the existence of women-only concerts, recordings, books, and similar projects: the first views such activities as a potential counteragent to poor representation in other venues; the second recognizes them as the celebration of a particular tradition within a larger community; and the third believes they actually contribute to the marginalization of women.

In Her Own Words grew out of the first position, yet the second underlies both the author’s attitude toward the project and the conversations she has with her subjects. In the introduction, Kelly includes an account of how she came to write the book, recalling:

As late as the 1980s in my high-school curriculum, women were not addressed as creators of music, and into the 1990s, when discussing women composers in college, the professors brought in “special” books. When I later became a professor myself, the standard textbooks still did not yet adequately represent my own gender; so I, too, brought in “special” books for the class. (2)

The author’s frustration with her limited exposure to female composers led her not to write a standard text better integrating women but rather to create another “special” book.

In Her Own Words—a book I believe is indeed special, extraordinary even, on many levels—contains twenty-five interviews that present a diverse overview of American women composers across the past eight decades. The book provides an unprecedented exploration of these composers’ music, experiences, philosophies, and more, with the goal of “bringing a more informed performance to an audience and more informed discussion into the classroom” (1). With this collection, Kelly clearly hopes to ameliorate the ignorance concerning female composers that she herself experienced. She reveals: “Without the benefit of having studied women composers as a matter of course throughout my education, I mistakenly believed that the number of talented women in music was small and their few musical scores worthy of study were already on the library shelves” (2). While the situation may be improving, women are still not adequately represented in textbooks, libraries, concerts, or other outlets through which audiences learn about music. Ideally, this text and others like it will mark an important step toward greater inclusion of women in mainstream studies of works while also encouraging musicians to program more music by female composers…

Visit the University of Nebraska Press website to find out more or to get your copy of Woman and Music: a Journal of Gender and Culture!

HICO/CCI Concert on 12/6

The Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra (HICO) is pairing up with Connecticut Composers, Inc. to present a concert of music by local composers.  Five works were selected through a score call, and I am happy to announce that my Scenes from Battleship Potemkin will be performed with works by Robert Carl, Ryan Jesperson, Ken Steen, and Frank Vasi.  After the concert, the audience will vote on their favorite work on the program, and the winning composer will be commissioned by HICO for the 2015-2016 season.  Hope to see you there!

December 6 at 7:30 pm
Charter Oak Cultural Center
Hartford, CT
Tickets: $20 General/$10 Student and Senior
Tickets can be purchased HERE or at the door

Recent Recordings/Publications

It’s been a busy year for recordings and publications! This past spring, Parma Recordings released my solo percussion work St. Teresa in Ecstasy (performed by Mike Lunoe) on their Parma Music Festival Live 2013 digital album.  The collection is available through iTunes here.  This summer, The Society of Composers, Inc. released their fiftieth volume of the Journal of Scores, which includes my First Praise alongside the music of 7 fantastic composers.  This fall/winter, a review I wrote of Jennifer Kelly’s collection of interviews In Her Own Words: Conversations with Composers in the United States will be published in the journal Women and Music: a Journal of Gender and Culture.  I’ll be posting a brief excerpt from this review soon, but for anyone who might be interested: Kelly’s book is a great collection of interviews with a diverse group of female composers, and I highly recommend it!

June in Buffalo

I am very pleased to announce that I have been selected as a participant in the 2014 June in Buffalo Festival for emerging composers.  I will be in residence at the University of Buffalo on June 2-8 for the event, and my flute-percussion duet “Rituals and Superstitions” will be performed on one of the Festival concerts.  I am greatly looking forward to this exciting opportunity and will post more details as they become available.  Until then, general information about June in Buffalo can be found online at

Early March Activities


The first two weeks of March will be a busy time for me! In addition to presenting my research about Ellen Taaffe Zwilich at the Society for American Music National Conference on March 7 (see an earlier post about this event here), I’ll be making trips to Westfield State University for their Festival of New Music on March 2 and Mansfield University for a residency with the Cadillac Moon Ensemble on March 10.

 As part of the Westfield Festival of New Music, the Boston New Music Initiative will be performing my First Praise.  I am very excited to work with the talented musicians of BNMI again and am fortunate they have chosen to present the work for the second time this season (the first being the Parma Music Festival/SCI Region I Conference back in August).  The concert will also feature works by Taila Amar, James Crowley, Sungji Hong, Cody Kauhl, Rodrigo Lima, Jeffrey Shivers, and Frederic Rzewski performed by BNMI and by the Connecticut-based Generous Ensemble.  In addition to participating in the concert, I will also be conducting a masterclass at the University and am greatly looking forward to meeting with the students.  

The following week I will head to Pennsylvania for a short visit at Mansfield University, where I will also have the opportunity to work with students.  While I am at the University, the NYC-based Cadillac Moon Ensemble will also be in residence and will be performing a program featuring premieres by Andrew Walters and myself.  Having heard a reading session this past week that included my new string duo You, As You Were Before You Existed and a number of other works written for the CME, I can guarantee they will put on a great show!

As if that was not enough to keep me busy, I’ll also be in Connecticut for the weekend portion of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford on March 6-9.  (Check back soon for a post about this staple of the Hartford music scene.)  I hope to see you at one or more of these fantastic events!

SCI Journal of Music Scores

My sextet First Praise has been selected for inclusion in the SCI Journal of Music Scores.  Published by European American Music, the Journal of Music Scores is a juried anthology of music written by members of the Society of Composers, Inc.  I am honored to have my piece included alongside the following works:

Corey Keating – As the Night Blooms
Philip Schuessler – Monochrome Variations
Nolan Stolz – Princess Kaiulani
Bryce Cannell – Refractions
Federico Jes Bonacossa – Rivir
Jay Batzner – Silhouettes, Receding
Jacob Walls – Whitening Thirst

Check back for more details about when this volume will be available!

SCI/ASCAP Student Commissioning Competition

I am excited to report that I was chosen as the Alternate Winner for Region II in this year’s SCI/ASCAP Student Commissioning Competition for my work First Praise.  A full list of the winners can be seen on SCI’s website at

Society for American Music 2014 Conference

I’m pleased to announce that my paper “Disruption and Development: Pitch Processes in the Music of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich” has been selected for inclusion in the 2014 Society for American Music Conference in Lancaster, PA on March 5-9.   The SAM will be presenting Dr. Zwilich with an honorary membership at the conference and was particularly interested in research about this illustrious composer.  My paper will be presented on the “Compositional Processes” session, which is tentatively scheduled for Friday, March 7 at 10:30 am.  I’ll have more details about the conference after the New Year, so check back!

New Horizons Music Festival

This Saturday, Nov. 2, my fixed media work “Not One Would Care” will be included in the New Horizons Music Festival at Truman State University (Kirksville, MO).  The Festival includes a number of traditional concerts as well as a gallery show with art by Nicholas Naughton and electroacoustic music selected from a score call.  The exhibition is entitled “Disasters of War”, and my work, which was among those chosen to accompany the prints, was inspired by Sara Teasdale’s post-apocolyptic poem “There will come soft rain”.  The art will be on display in the Truman Art Gallery with the selected pieces on loop from 12-6:30 pm.  More information about the Gallery Concert and all other events of the Festival can be found online at

Parma New Music Festival/SCI Region I Conference

parmaOn August 15-17, I will be heading up to Portsmouth, NH to participate in the Parma New Music Festival/SCI Region I Conference.

My friend and frequent collaborator, Mike Lunoe, will be attending to perform my “St. Teresa in Ecstasy” for solo gyile on Friday, Aug. 16 at 11 am.  The concert will be held at St. John’s Church in Portsmouth, NH and is free to the public.  If you can’t make it out (or if you want a preview of the piece), you can check out one of Mike’s previous performances of the work on Youtube.

Additionally, the Boston New Music Initiative has selected the Pierrot ensemble version of “First Praise” for inclusion on their concert at the festival.  That event will be held at the same venue at 2 pm on Aug. 16.

Lastly, I will be presenting my paper “Disruption and Development: Pitch Processes in the Music of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich”.  The paper is a small portion of my dissertation research, on which I am currently hard at work.

A full schedule and other important information can be found online at Parma’s website.  Hope to see you there!

“First Praise” Wins Robert Starer Composition Award

My First Praise for mixed chamber ensemble was recently honored with the CUNY Graduate Center’s Robert Starer Composition Award, which is given annually to an exceptional student work. The official Music Department announcement can be viewed here.

First Praise was written for the Cygnus Ensemble, who premiered the work in 2012 during a residency at the Graduate Center.  The work is scored for flute, oboe, violin, cello, guitar, and mandolin.  An alternation version for Pierrot ensemble was premiered in this past January on the Firebrand Concert Series as part of their local composers spotlight.


“Twisted Blue” to be premiered by Alex Kollias and HICO

This weekend, the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra with soloist Alexander Kollias will premiere Twisted Blue for clarinet and chamber orchestra.  Commissioned by the orchestra, this project has been two years in the making, and I am thrilled to see it come to fruition.  Hailed as “an invaluable addition to the Hartford musical scene, both for its presentation of the rich chamber orchestra repertoire, and its commitment to newer and commissioned works,” HICO performs 8pm on Saturday, April 20 at Trinity Episcopal Church of Hartford and 8pm on Monday, April 22 at Founders Hall, Central Connecticut State University. Tickets are available at the door – $15 ($10 with student ID) at Trinity and donations accepted at Founders Hall.

To give you a taste of what you’ll hear at the concert, here is a clip from a preview performance of the second movement featuring HICO with soloist Dan Liptak.

[mp3j track=”″ title=”Listen to Movement II (Excerpt)” flow=y]


Presentations at NECMT, N_SEME, and More

On April 13, I will be giving a paper entitled “Disruption and Development: Pitch Processes in the Music of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich” at the annual meeting of the New England Conference of Music Theorists.  This research is a small portion of my in-progress dissertation, which will provide an overview of Zwilich’s music from a transformational perspective.  In recent weeks, I have presented similar material at the Women Composers Festival of Hartford Forum, the National Student Electronic Music Event/Temple University New Music Symposium, and the CUNY Graduate Center Composers Forum.

NECMT will be taking place at Tufts University April 12-13, and my presentation will be included on the 9:00 am session Saturday.   A complete program and registration information can be found at NECMT’s website,

Boston Metro Opera Advocacy Award

Cygan-Beck3I am pleased to announce that “To Think on You” (2012) for tenor and piano recently received the Boston Metro Opera Contempo Festival’s Advocacy Award.  The announcement of this and many other awards can be found here.  Created for the 2013 season, the Advocacy Award recognizes works that foster awareness through both music and text.  The selected works will received featured performances as part of the Boston Metro Opera Project’s regular season and will become part of the standard repertoire for the Educational and Outreach divisions.

The photo above shows Chad Cygan, tenor and Steve Beck, piano performing the work as part of the Composers Now Festival in New York city.  Check back soon for a recording!