My compositional works draw from the broader world of modal music traditions found primarily in the region between Western Africa and China. My approach to composition requires serious immersion in a wide range of traditions and the study of traditional instruments and performance styles. To that end, I have been exploring modal music traditions for the past 18 years, starting with Bulgarian folk and Roma music, then expanding to other parts of the Balkans and Greece, and eventually to Ottoman art music and Turkish makam. As I grow musically, I seek out more music traditions to add to the palette of sound sources from which I draw inspiration.
While I am not insensitive to the many differences between these various modal traditions, many of them actually have shared histories, are interdependent, and have much more in common with each other than we are often led to believe. Western classical music has a long and rich history of drawing inspiration from many cultures while accepting all practitioners, regardless of ethnicity, as equal participants in the evolving tapestry of the music. My similarly cosmopolitan approach brings new listeners to traditional music and helps create living music traditions from those that would otherwise stagnate from within, falling under the weight of false nationalistic exclusivity. Exploring music in this way has allowed me to share what I have learned of these traditions with colleagues, students, and audiences in the Greater Boston area and New England, while also forcing me to come to terms with my role as a cultural outsider in both the preservation and elevation of these traditions. I see my work as educational outreach, exploratory in nature, neither superficial nor an expression of exoticism, but rather a deeply respectful means for the listener to plug in to a new social and cultural norm of inclusivity.
All my artistic projects share the following core values:
1) Emphasizing authenticity and the preservation of the traditions from which I draw inspiration, requiring years of research and study.
2) Showing the interconnectedness of these traditions, whose shared histories allow for unexpected musical collaborations, intertwining musical concepts, and the creation of new art.
3) Composing new music, with the aim to create music that is current and part of an evolving tradition.
4) Connecting with the audience by providing context for the music they hear through discussion of the culture, instruments, and history of these modal traditions as part of every performance.
These values are the driving force behind my projects and guide their evolution from concept to fruition.
My current projects include:
Past projects include: