Eight Portraits in Ten Movements (2020)
Each movement premiered separately.
Sonata Allegro (A portrait of Karina Bruk)
A Walk in Oxford (A portrait of Leslie Theseira)
Toccata in Varying Meters (A portrait of Siyi Chen)
Whims and Daydreams (A portrait of Jason Allen)
Post-Kettle Nap (A portrait of Charles Fussell)
Our Third Life (A portrait of Alexander Porter)
A Game of (A portrait of Moriah Kam)
Variations on Themes (A portrait of Abraham Alinea)
Musical portraiture has existed for centuries, including those by Couperin, Elgar, and Ravel. Virgil Thomson, inspired by Gertrude Stein’s written portraits, composed several hundred musical portraits over his lifetime. Thomson passed this tradition on to Charles Fussell, who then passed it on to me.
After composing Children’s Portrait Album, I wanted to compose a portrait album of adults. A piano recital in December 2019, by my dear friend Siyi Chen, inspired me greatly and planted the seed for my idea: I wanted to musically represent my closest musical friends. By the end of the month, I had already begun drafting several portraits; the first was completed several days after the new year. Progress was generally steady, with only a break in April. The set was completed in mid-May. I can say with certainty that my favorite part of the whole process was seeing my friends’ reactions upon receiving their portrait.
These portraits can be programmed in any order and in any combination.