The Golden Mountain

A magical tale about a young Princess, an old soothsayer, and a mountain of gold!

In a faraway kingdom, a King and his Princess daughter  are in the Royal Chambers. Always inquisitive, the Princess ponders questions such as: ‘Why is the sky blue?’and, ‘Why does fall turn into winter?’.

Having learned that there is a wiseman in the Kingdom who can read the stars, the Princess pleads with her father to bring the Wiseman to the palace. Finally, the King relents and orders a courier to find and bring the Wiseman to the palace.

In a cave in the wilderness, the Wiseman a soothsayer, sings of the stars and the wonders of the world. He sees in his crystal ball and a golden coach is approaching his cave.The courier enters the Wiseman’s cave and conveys to him that the King requests his presence at the palace and adds that no harm shall come to him. The Wiseman agrees.

At the palace, the King asks the wiseman to teach the Princess everything he knows including how to ‘read the stars’. The wiseman agrees under the condition that no one else shall be present while he is with heru

A year passes and confident the princess has learned everything he’s taught her, the Wise man departs. The Princess sings of all the wonderful things she has learned.But while reading the stars, she discovers that the army of the Evil King is gathering at the border. She immediately informs the King who sends troops to ambush the enemy.

To reward the Princess for her efforts, the King appoints her his personal advisor.

While reading the stars, the Princess discovers that the army of the Enemy King is gathering on the border. She alerts the King who immediately dispatches his troops to stage an ambush. In recognitions of her actions, the King appoints the princess his personal advisor.

Materials available on request: Piano Score, Full Score, Set of Parts, Libretto

Introduction and Chubasco for Chamber Orchestra

A ‘Chubasco’ is a magical weather event often associated with South and Central America. These summer storms occur as well during the rainy or ‘monsoon’ season in Tucson and Southern Arizona in the United States. The Tucson Valley is situated in the north of the Sonoran Desert. It is also surrounded by mountain ranges that are in the southern most region of the Rockies. It is here that the rainy season or ‘monsoons’ take place from late June until about the end of September.


It is this thrilling natural event that I attempt to capture in my Introduction and Chubasco. the ‘dry heat’ and the intense light of early summer seem to create a shimmering effect across the valley. In time, wisps of clouds sneak above the Catalina and Rincon Mountain ranges. I try to depict this in the ‘Introduction’ section of the work. Here the strings play light, rhythmic figures which accompany the lyrical lines in the winds. In a few days, large billowing clouds skirt the sky and distant thunder softly and ominously sounds in the distance. The skies darken; the wind picks up and the chubasco is upon us.

In the ‘Chubasco’ section of the work, turbulent ostinatos churn in the winds and brass, above which the violins lyrically soar. The orchestral textures intensify and become denser culminating with a boisterous timpani solo.
As the microburst passes and the storm clouds move on, a dazzling array of light appears in the sky. Following the timpani solo, a solitary trumpet sounds accompanied by colorful washes of harmony in the winds brass and strings which aim to depict this natural phenomenon. What remains are a few rolls on the timpani as thunder from the now dista!nt storm softly sounds and fades away.

A perusal score of the work is available on request. There is a link below of the premiere recording of the piece. It is performed here by the Mission Chamber Orchestra conducted by Emily Ray.

Hard Knocks for Trumpet and Piano

Hard Knocks is a bold  and exciting new work for trumpet and piano. Initially, the piece combines percussive chords in the piano with angular melodic figures in the trumpet. As the work progresses, all of this aggressive energy is subdued; the pounding piano chords evolve into light staccato patterns while the angularity in the  trumpet becomes lyrically melodic (although, as you’ll find out, this doesn’t last for long!)
Hard Knocks is around seven minutes in length. A PDF perusal score and and trumpet part is available on request.

Hard Knock (midi version)

Be the First to Tame the Beast!

Taming the Beast is a work in three brief movements for baritone saxophone and piano. It was my intention to cast the baritone saxophone differently from its typical role as a bass instrument in a band or saxophone quartet.

In the first movement, one should imagine a ‘beast’ of sorts trying to resist capture. Here the instrument is in its higher register, and seems to be straining to set itself free. After a while the instrument returns to its lower, forceful nature, as if it had  freed itself for a time.

The second movement is a song in which the saxophone is seeking to replicate a human baritone voice singing an art song or lied. One would think that the saxophone has finally been contained  yet…

In the third movement, the baritone sax breaks free again and is on a rampage. It catches its breath now and again with a couple of cadenzas ,until the beast seems to be tamed, at least for now!

A PDF score and part is available on request. Taming the Beast is awaiting its first performance so you might be the first to Tame the Beast! Listen to the midi version below:

Ramas de Plata for Piccolo and Piano

Ramas de Plata (Silver Branches) is a gentle, lyrical work for piccolo and piano.

The silver branches refer to the branches of the palo verde trees after a rain.

The quiet, lilting figures in the upper octaves of the piano set the mood for much of the work.

Interspersed throughout the piece are livelier sections and technical displays for the soloist.

Listen to it here:

You may also purchase the piece from SheetMusicPlus.com

Mrs. Manstey’s View: A New Chamber opera

I am delighted to share with you my recently completed chamber opera, Mrs. Manstey’s View. The work is based on a short story by Edith Wharton. In the opera, we meet a lonely old women who spends much of her time gazing out her third floor window. She soon learns that a nearby property owner plans to build an extension which would block her precious view…The opera’s themes of loneliness and isolation should have some relevance with today’s audiences in this time of COVD!
Attached you will find a portion of a perusal score. A link to a sound file of the opening section of the piece is also attached.The libretto, synopsis and piano score and full score are available on request.

The cast includes*:

Mrs. Manstey: Mezzo Soprano

Mrs. Sampson: Soprano

Mrs. Black: Mezzo Soprano

Forman: Baritone

Nurse: Mezzo Soprano

Chorus of Boarders: Soprano, mezzo soprano, baritone

Chamber Ensemble: clarinet, violin, cello and piano

Total Duration: C. 35 Minutes

*Cast members may appear in multiple roles.

Defined by the Saxophone


I was in third grade and was more than rarin' to go and start playing the saxophone.My parents were well aware of this, and so right around Chanukah of 1956, they alerted my grandparents as to  the perfect gift for me.

That gift was a saxophone, well, not a real saxophone, a toy saxophone. The company that made them was called  Emenee. They made a number of fake wind instruments like trumpets and clarinets.. They all sounded like cheap harmonicas. So I just unwrapped my gift and played away. It had levers for keys and I ‘mastered’ the instrument right away. I just had to use my imagination and I was sort of playing the saxophone.But soon I was bored of the thing.

I had to wait another year, until  fourth grade when kids were allowed to choose their musical instrument for the school band.The day before our first band class my mother and a I went to the music store to get the saxophone. As soon as we got home, my mom and I somehow figured out how to put it together, reed and all. I spent much of the remainder of that day exploring the instrument and discovering a number of pitches.

The next day was our first band class and the Mr. Perrel, the music teacher spent the beginning of class examining each kids instrument. When he got to me, he stared at my instrument and said “You have a C melody sax there. They haven’t played those old things in years.You need to exchange it for an Eb alto sax.” I found that very disturbing. Since the school year had already started, what it they ran out of saxophones at the music store?

The next day we went back to the music store and the clerk was able to dig out an old clunker of an alto saxophone. It was very tarnished and smelly and they keys clanked when I played it.

But it was good enough for me. So, I was on my way…

Awakening










(Johnny Hodges)









For the suburban Long Island homeowner in the 1950’s, one of the key status symbols was a finished basement. My father finished ours entirely himself. There were knotty pine wood walls carefully varnished with sleek wood trim. In addition, he built his own speaker cabinets and record turn table all with the same knotty pine features. One afternoon he said he wanted to share something ‘downstairs’ .There, he had me stand about five feet from the two evenly spaced floor speakers and other state of the art equipment. He picked out a 33 rpm record from the shelve ,took it out of its sleeve and carefully placed it on the turntable. He placed his right forefinger under the tone arm and gently lowered it onto the turning LP. When I heard the sound of a few instruments, I knew two things: 1. It was jazz, and 2. It wasn’t hi-fi quality like the recording Swan Lake recording  my uncle Marty picked up from ‘the city’.

Moments into the recording, I was struck by the mellow tone, and  the smooth effortless sounding pitches rapidly sliding up and down the instrument. It had me transfixed! “That’s Johnny Hodges”, my father said, and I thought, “ I’d like to do that too”. More specifically, I’d like to play the instrument I’m hearing, the saxophone. Hodges was playing the soprano saxophone, but kids  we’re supposed to start on the alto sax which was OK by me.

 I owe it to that recording of  Blue Reverie performed by members of Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, who were guests of Benny Goodman at his famous 1938 concert. A few years later I learned to, play other instruments, and took up composition. I point to that day in our finished basement as my awakening; my realization that music was the direction in which I’d take the rest of my life. This was the beginning of my musical journey, a journey  which continues to this day.

Doowop
















Our neighbors from across the street and a few doors down invited my sister and I for an afternoon at the beach.Their ‘56 Desoto  convertible stood, parked in front of their house,  it’s front end sloping down the driveway. Our neighbors, the Boardman’s, wanted to avoid the crowds at Jones Beach and chose a place called Zack’s Bay. We piled into the Desoto. It’s wide vinyl  seats left plenty of room for the four of us. Despite the threat of rain, we decided to take our chances and hit the road.

 My sister and I weren’t the greatest swimmers, neither were our neighbor’s daughter,Carolann and her mom, Ann. So we were glad to romp in the calm waters of the bay where we didn’t have to worry about jellyfish or a strong undertow.We just  bobbed up in down in the water while Mrs. Boardman watched from her beach chair in the distance. 

After a while, the clouds darkened to the point that Mrs. Boardman decided to  gathered us up and head back to town. As we drove back home in the Desoto convertible, we felt the cool, moist air brush against our checks Then it began to drizzle. But it didn’t rain hard enough for us to have to put the top back up. 

I  don’t recall what we were talking about on the return trip. We were probably dozing off at that point from all the fresh air and exercise. But then, for whatever reason , Ann Boardman decided to turn on the radio. And ,as  if on cue, I heard a pulsing bass line. A piano was playing chords in repeated triplet figures. And then...”Doowop-doowop”. I thought,’What’s that, some kind of bird 🎶 singing?’ No ,it was a trio of  men singing falsetto.I never heard anything quite like that! And  then, suddenly, I  burst out in uncontrolled, full- throttled laughter. I saw.Mrs. Boardman smiling in the rear view mirror. Then, there was a sort of lull in the music. This was during the chorus of the song when the ‘bird’ wasn’t chirping  but someone was singing a regular sounding melody. This gave me a chance to catch my breath.Then the ‘doowops’ returned and my laughter suddenly switched on again. I recall a feeling of pure joy as I rolled around  and around in the backseat of the Desoto while the tune played on.

Years later, I would discuss this song in my Popular Music in America course as a fine example of the Doowop style. It was the Cadillac’s one hit wonder,’ I Only Have Eyes for You’, a cover of  the old Harry Warren and Al Dubin song.

Whenever I hear it or even hear other versions of it, I think of that glorious, carefree moment years ago from my childhood back on Long Island!