• Shatin’s Review of Comparing Notes: How We Make Sense of Music by Adam Ockelford

    New Music Connoisseur, Vol. 24 #1, Shatin’s review of Ockelford: Comparing Notes, How We Make Sense of Music

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  • Kassia Ensemble Commission

    The Kassia ensemble commissioned the first piece composed for their entire sparkling ensemble of clarinet, harp and string quintet, and I have responded with Kassia,  inspired by the 9th-century abbess, poet and hymnographer. She is the only woman whose music is included in the Eastern Orthodox Church liturgy, and likely the first woman whose music has survived until now! I have referenced fragments of two of her chants and was also inspired by rreadings of her poetry in the original Greek. This ensemble affords a wealth of timbral beauty. Stay tuned for the premiere date!

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  • Hehuanshan for Bass Drum & Optional Interactive Electronics

    One of my newest projects is the creation of Hehuanshan (Mountain of Joy), scored for solo bass drum and optional interactive electronics. It was inspired by, and is a tribute to, I-Jen Fang, with whom I have studied and explored percussion for two years. The title I have chosen reflects the ongoing delight of this experience.

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  • The Best Angel in Heaven, for Sandra Santos-Vizcaino

    I composed The Best Angel in Heaven in the cruel month of April, 2020, in memory of Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, the wonderful third-grade teacher at PS 9 in Brooklyn, NY who passed away from Covid-19. You can hear the beautiful performance by soprano Victoria Erickson and pianist Arlene Shrut here. 

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  • New Music Connoisseur Vo. 12 #1&2, Piping the Earth

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  • Judith Shatin & Michael Kubovy: The Mind of An Artist at LOC

    Acclaimed cognitive psychologist Michael Kubovy  and I were invited to give a joint presentation on The Mind of An Artist as part of the Music and the Brain Series at the Library of Congress on 3/27/2009. The video is available below  and has already been watched close to 40K times. I have been fascinated by the role of perception in musical experience, performance and creation for decades, and it is always a factor in my compositional process.

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  • Zipper Music Digital Performance for NIME 2020

    Zipper Music, performed on  a UVA New Music Concert, included in the Covid-online version of  NIME 2020.   The conference was scheduled for the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, but circumstances led to its on-line migration.

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  • Drive-By

    Instrumentation: Digital Music
    Duration: 2:00
    Date of Composition: 2006

    Program Note:

    I composed Drive-by while I was working on music for Cinnamon, Kevin J. Emerson’s movie about African American drag car racing. I created the music by processing the sounds of a race car and then building a pulsing,  polyrhythmic digital track.

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  • The Best Angel in Heaven

    Instrumentation: Unison Chorus or soloist & piano
    Duration: 3:00
    Date of Composition: 2020

    Program Note:

    I composed The Best Angel in Heaven in the cruel month of April, 2020, in memory of Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, the wonderful third-grade teacher at PS 9 in Brooklyn, NY who passed away from Covid-19.  I did so because I was so touched by the memory page devoted to her, marked by the love and sadness of so many whose lives she touched. She was clearly not only a great teacher, but a woman of extraordinary character, kindness and compassion. I wish I could have known her. I have based the lyrics on phrases drawn from these memories of love for her and of distress at losing so dear a person. The song can be performed either by unison chorus or soloist and piano.  Any profit from this piece will be donated to PS9 in the memory of Ms. Santos-Vizcaino. -JS

    Lyrics: The Best Angel in Heaven

    You are my fav’rite  teacher.
    You will stay with me forever.
    I will always love and miss you.
    I will love you no matter what, no matter what.

    You are the kindest, smartest, funniest,
    You are the best teacher ever.
    You are the best angel in Heaven,
    Angel in Heaven.

    You loved us all equally,
    We were part of your family.
    We miss your warm hugs,
    We miss your sweet treats.

    You will always be in my heart.
    It is the hardest loss,
    The hardest loss.

    You were always a hugger,
    You were like our owl.
    Always a leader,
    Always smiling,
    You were like our own Athena,

    You are safe in star clan now.
    You are safe in star clan.
    You are the best angel in Heaven,
    in Heaven,
    in Heaven.

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  • For the Fallen

    The marvelous Italian trumpeter Ivano Ascari contacted me on the recommendation of composer Fabrizio Festa, a mutual acquaintance. Ivano was creating a program in honor of the centennial of World War I and asked if I would be willing to contribute to this effort, and I thought it was an important project. Whenever I create a piece for a soloist or ensemble, I am interested in finding connections that move me both in terms of conception the musical design during our discussion, Ivano told me about the Campana dei Cauditi (Bell for the Fallen) in his home town of Rovereto. It was originally cast from cannons melted down after World War I, with the project conceived by the Priest Don Antonio Rossaro. This amazing bell is rung 100 times at sunset every day in memory of the fallen in all wars, and there is now a useum and many ancillary projects. After further discussion, I asked whether high quality recordings could be made of the bell that I would then use a source material for the electronics, and the answer was yes! I fashioned the electronics from those recordins, shared by sound engineer Marco Olivotto. Ivano premiered the piece at the Mondi Sonori, XV Edizione Festival at the Trento Conservatory in Trento, IT on 10/5/12, and subsequently recorded it on his CD A Hundred Years, to commemorate  the Centennary of WWI. All of the pieces for this project were written for and dedicated to Ivano.

    I subsequently did a brief residency at the Conservatory in 2015, delivering my first lecture in Italian, and attending a concert that included a spectacular performance of For the Fallen by Ivano, whom I had the pleasure of finally meeting. The next day, my husband and I visited Rovereto, and Ivano took us to see the impressive bell and the museum on the same grounds where there is a great deal of information both about the bell and the ongoing work to foster peace.

    While I rarely envision multiple versions of my compositions, this one is one of the few for which I have done so. In addition to the original version for trumpet, I’ve also created versions for flute, soprano sax and cello. The marvelous flutist Lindsey Goodman premiered and recorded it on her CD Returning to Heights Unseen, while the outstanding sax player Drew Whiting released it in the version for soprano sax and electronics on his CD In Lights Starkly Different. And still another version exists for cello, and was premiered by Madeleine Shapiro, who also premiere and recorded For the Birds, for amplified cello and electronics fashioned from birdsong.  It has been a fascinating process to reimagine the timbral world of the bell for several different instruments, finding a way to interweave each with the compelling sound world of the electronics that I fashioned from the recordings of this amazing instrument.

    Composition Page

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