Audio and videos performances are listed by title in alphabetical order. There are a lot of tracks, so this page might take several seconds to load.
AS YOU LIKE IT SUITE
Included in this suite of pieces written for a production of Shakespeare's play are a prelude and four songs that have been arranged for solo harp. Annabelle Taubl, a Hartt School graduate, is the principal harpist of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.
CONCERTO FOR WINDS AND PERCUSSION
Conductor Glen Adsit leads the Hartt Wind Ensemble in a stunning performance of my Concerto for Winds and Percussion.
The Concerto for Winds and Percussion was composed during the years 2011 and 2012 for a commission by a group of distinguished university wind ensembles. The work is dedicated to conductor Glen Adsit, my long-time colleague, collaborator, and friend.
The work exhibits the same kind of virtuosity and range of expression typical of a concerto featuring a single soloist but expands the concept to include every player in a large ensemble of wind and percussion instruments. The players display the techniques and colors of their instruments in numerous solos, in small groups and in brilliant tutti sections. The Concerto for Winds and Percussion is a celebration of an instrumental medium that is rapidly expanding its serious concert repertoire and continually enhancing its artistic position in the realm of classical music.
Recent performances include those at Lawrence University, the University of Connecticut, the University of New Mexico, the University of Michigan, and the Eastman School of Music.
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A DANCE CONCERTO
FOR CLARINET AND ORCHESTRA
This concerto is dedicated to the memory of Benny Goodman, the great proponent of swing music and also an ardent lover of classical music. The last movement has some jazz-inspired licks, but this concerto is not a third-stream or crossover piece.
This recording is of the premiere performance which took place at the University of Alabama in 1992. Scott Bridges (UA professor of clarinet) performed the work with the University of Alabama Orchestra.
I met Benny Goodman just once, and I was thrilled to shake his hand.
DANCES AND NOCTURNES
FOR PIANO QUARTET
This recording was made by the New World Chamber Ensemble (now the New World Trio), a wonderful Hartford-based group led by violinist Anhared Stowe. I’ve collaborated with Stowe and her group many times, and this piece was commissioned by the New World ensemble. The work is dedicated to my wife Judy who was a violist in her youth.
The work comprises alternating nocturnes and dances (three of each). I have excerpted three of the seven movements: the jauntily-mechanical first dance, the dreamy tango-inspired second dance, and the reprise of the first dance. The entire work is included my CD titled Dreams and Nocturnes (see information about the recording on the CDs/Reviews page).
FOR SOLO VIOLIN
I wrote this piece as an elegy for my father, George Gryc, who died in 2008. I didn’t seek public performances of it at first, but Icelandic violinist Gróa Margrét convinced me of its worth as a concert piece.
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FOR FLUTE AND GUITAR
Flutist John Wion and guitarist Richard Provost perform the first movement, Rhapsody, of this work that is included on my CD New Music for Flute and Oboe (see the CDs/Reviews page for ordering information).
FOR BRASS QUINTET
This work was commissioned by the New Mexico Brass Quintet, the ensemble heard in this recording. The New Mexico Brass Quintet uses a tuba as the bottom voice, but the part is more easily performed on a bass trombone. The three movements evoke the changing moods of the Sonoran Desert over the course of a day, from sunrise to the brightest part of the day to a cloudless night.
SIX POEMS BY MAGGIE ANDERSON
I listen to this recording over and over because of the wonderful performance, the beautiful sound quality of the recording, and the evocative, funny, exquisite poetry of Maggie Anderson (photo at right). These are not dreams about vegetables but dreams of vegetables as they grow in the garden. The dreams mirror the ones human have.
I've excerpted the first two of six poems, the dreams of yellow squash (Exposure) and of tomatoes (Falling). The remaining poems detail the dreams of cabbages, radishes, potatoes, and corn. The words are not sung but spoken in a manner similar to Schoenberg's sprechstimme. I must give a big shout-out to the performers: mezzo-soprano Judith Brown, clarinetist Ronald Krentzman, violinist Cyrus Stevens, and marimbist Benjamin Toth. Dream Vegetables leads my CD titled Dreams and Nocturnes (see the CDs/Reviews page for information on how to order).
ECCE VENIET DIES ILLA
ARRANGED FOR EIGHT TROMBONES
When I was a member of the University of Michigan Trombone Choir I made an arrangement of this Palestrina double-choir motet for eight trombones. It's not very difficult and it sounds magnificent, especially in this recording by the Chicago Trombone Consort. Even though I don't get a credit on the CD, this is a recording that I highly recommend. See the CDs/Review page for information.
EVENSONG FOR TRUMPET AND WIND ENSEMBLE
One of my most cherished recordings is this one of Philip Smith performing Evensong with conductor Eric Rombach-Kendall and the University of New Mexico Wind Symphony. If you love brass instruments this CD (titled Fandango) gives you superb performances by two principal players of the New York Philharmonic, trumpeter Philip Smith and trombonist Joseph Alessi. Find ordering information on the CDs/Reviews page.
FANFARE: DAWN IN THE ARDEN FOREST
FOR HORN SEXTET
This cue from music for a stage production of Shakespeare's As You Like It makes a great concert opener for a horn choir. There is also a version of this fanfare that includes horns, euphoniums and tuba.
FANTASY VARIATIONS ON A THEME OF BÉLA BARTÓK
The Hartt School's new music ensemble, Foot In The Door, performs the work in Benaroya Hall in Seattle. Joseph Abad is the soprano saxophonist. In its various guises as a work for string quartet or string orchestra with oboe or soprano saxophone, the Fantasy Variations is one of my most frequently performed works.
FANFARE IN RED AND WHITE
I was honored to compose a fanfare for a celebration honoring Walter Harrison, retiring president of the University of Hartford and my ultimate boss for nineteen years. I wrote a piece based on the university's alma mater which I also wrote. My good friend and colleague, conductor Edward Cumming, led a group of Hartt students.
FIVE AMERICAN PORTRAITS
FOR FIVE WIND INSTRUMENTS
The woodwind quintet is one of the most difficult of the standard chamber groups for which to compose due to its heterogeneous nature. Each of the five instruments is featured in a movement and becomes the voice of a famous American. All five of the characters portrayed are idiosyncratic individuals who none-the-less played important roles in American history and culture.
The work won a competition which came with some money and a New York City performance. When I saw that the members of the sponsoring Vox Nova Woodwind Quintet were all women, I was a little embarrassed to have written character sketches only of men. The wonderful players gave me a great performance.
The recorded performance is by the Hartt Contemporary Players.
FIVE PRELUDES FOR FLUTE ALONE
This set of five small pieces was composed in 1979 when I was a doctoral student at the University of Michigan and studying composition with William Bolcom, one of the greatest of our American composers. Although it was truly a student work, it was published by the Parisian firm of Alphonse Leduc and won a composition prize from the National Flute Association which then used it as a required piece in their international performance competition.
In 1979 I was very interested in China which had only recently reopened itself to the western world. Each of the Five Preludes is inspired by a scenic local in the Chinese city of Hangchow, long a tourist destination for Chinese as well as foreigners.
The preludes are performed by my wonderful Hartt colleague John Wion. Now retired, John was principal flutist with the New York City Opera for many years.
I have excerpted the first and the last prelude. See the CDs/Review page on how to order the recording.
CONCERTO FOR BASSOON
Guignol is an iconic puppet character in France. I tried to capture the humor and energy of a puppet performance in this little concerto for bassoon and a chamber orchestra of winds and percussion. This recent performance of the first of three movements features soloist Marc Goldberg performing with the Hartt School's new music ensemble Foot In The Door and conductor Glen Adsit.
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CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA
The Hartford Symphony commissioned this work at the urging of its great concertmaster, Leonid Sigal. What a pleasure it was to collaborate with Sigal, conductor Edward Cumming, and all the musicians of the orchestra. Hearing four performances of the work on four successive days was a peak life experience.
I love the concerto form, but I find some of its conventions too predictable and restrictive. Harmonia Mundi is cast in four movements instead of the usual three. The tempi of the four movements (each suggestive of an earthly element) give the piece an unusual progression: moderately slow, moderately fast, very fast, very slow.
This recording was made by Sigal, Cumming, and the Hartt Symphony Orchestra.
INNO DI MAMELI
I made this orchestral arrangement of the Italian National Anthem for the Wintergreen Music Festival in Virginia. There are versions for small and large orchestras. It would work well before a concert of Italian opera arias. This recording is from a concert performance at the festival.
MUSIC FOR 'KING JOHN'
Director Malcolm Morrison had
an early success in London with his production of Shakespeare's King John. He directed a student production of it when he was dean of the Hartt School. Malcolm asked me for music cues, and I wrote cues for as many as three trumpets and sixteen drums. The fanfares and percussion cues have been used for other productions and other plays involving monarchs and war. I have excerpted four of my favorite cues, ones which may have some musical interest without any stage action. My favorite music is the Dead March used in the scene where a dying King John is borne on a litter. The tableaux for this scene as staged by Malcolm Morrison with cowled monks and faceless attendants was amazingly creepy and beautiful.
LAS CAMPANAS (THE BELLS)
FOR WIND ENSEMBLE
The University of Mexico commissioned me to compose a piece as a memorial to a history professor whose specialty was Spain. Eric Rombach-Kendall and the University of New Mexico Wind Symphony give the work a thrilling performance on their Fascinating Ribbons CD.
ON A THEME OF SERGEI PROKOFIEV
FOR WIND ENSEMBLE
Eric Rombach-Kendall began my long and productive association with wind ensembles by commissioning this piece which has since been performed many times in many states. The US Marine Band toured with it.
Hear a performance by the
North Texas Wind Symphony
THE MOON'S MIRROR
FOR FLUTE AND CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
The work is a flute concerto in the form of three tone poems. The chamber orchestra comprises an alto flute (the soloist's shadow), one percussion player, and strings. I have excerpted the first movement, The Face Of The Moon. The other two movements are titled The Moon Reflected In A Pond and Clouds Fly Past The Moon. The entire work is heard on my CD titled New Music for Flute & Oboe. See the CDs/Review page for ordering information.
FIVE PIECES FOR YOUNG PIANISTS
This five short evocative pieces were suggested to me by poems of Vachel Lindsay who wrote many poems about the moon as seen from different viewpoints. The last two pieces (The Moon is a Scarab and The Moon is a Flower are excerpted here. The first three movements are: The Moon is a Gong, The Moon is a Skull, and The Moon is a Candlelight. Although I wrote the pieces specifically for younger players, several mature and accomplished performers have chosen to perform the piece on recitals. The entire set is heard on my CD titled Dreams and Nocturnes (see the CDs/Reviews page for ordering information).
OLD NEW ENGLAND RHYMES
FOR CHILDREN'S CHORUS
I have set four street rhymes that I found in a nineteenth-century book for two-part children's chorus and piano. The only recording I have is of Counting Rainbows which is a round. The other three rhymes are: Sneeze, See A Pin, and Eggs, Cheese, Butter, Bread. The performers in this recording are students at the University Park Elementary School in Maryland, the school I attended as a child.
PASSAGGI: CONCERTO FOR
TROMBONE AND WIND ENSEMBLE
What a privilege it was to write a trombone concerto for the great Joe Alessi. My friend and colleague Edward Cumming conducted the two premiere performances with Joe and the Hartford Symphony. Another friend and colleague, Glen Adsit, asked for a wind ensemble version which was promptly recorded by Joe and the Hartt Wind Ensemble.
I am (or was, at least) a trombone player, so Passaggi (Italian for passages) is autobiographical in a way. Each of the three movements represents a different stage in the life of a musician and is dedicated to a different trombonist in my life. The three dedicatees are Daniel Livesay (both Joe's and my trombone teacher), Leslie Bassett (my composition teacher), and Joseph Alessi (the man!).
There's a lot of wonderful and unusual music on this Naxos CD titled Passaggi. Look for ordering details on the CDs/Reviews page.
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REFLECTIONS ON A SOUTHERN HYMN
FOR SOLO HORN
This piece was commissioned by Peter Landgren, formerly a horn player with the Baltimore Symphony. The piece is based on the well-known devotional tune Wondrous Love as found in a collection of shape-note music called Southern Harmony.
Jeffrey Lang has made a recording comprising only works for solo horn. He is able to pull off this audacious idea because of his gorgeous sound and his interpretive artistry. Get ordering information on the CDs/Review page.
FOR WOODWIND OCTET
I love Rossini's late music, so I had a lot of fun orchestrating four pieces from his Sins of Old Age for woodwinds. This is a new piece, so all I have to share at the moment are some MIDI performances.
I'm holding an original Rossini autograph score of a recently discovered work for two flutes and string quartet. What a thrill to touch the score once held by the great composer!
SCHERZI FOR OBOE AND ENGLISH HORN
This set of concert duets was commissioned by students of Bert Lucarelli to honor the great oboist and teacher on his eightieth birthday. This concert recording by Ling-Fei Kang and Janet Rosen is not tracked. Here are the titles of the five movements:
1. Uno, due, tre (One, two, three)
2. Gondoliera (Gondolier's Song)
3. Caccia (Chase)
4. Canzone del pastore (Song of the Shepherd)
5. Uccellino (Little Bird)
SHADOWDANCE FOR FLUTE AND PIANO
Duo Essence gives a fabulous performance of this piece commissioned by the National Flute Association for use in their Young Artists Competition. For information on how to order the duo's great CD of music that celebrates the dance, see the CDs/Reviews page.
SIX MECHANICALS FROM
'A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM'
These six little pieces are sketches of the characters in the play-within-a-play from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The word "mechanicals" refers to the six bumbling tradesmen who act the most lamentable tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe. I have excerpted two of the movements, the Prologue (the part spoken by the carpenter Peter Quince) and Thisbe (the heroine of the piece as portrayed by the bellows maker named Flute). The performers are flutist Christine Deschler, oboist Daniel Brimhall, and harpsichordist Laura Garritson. These excerpts come from my CD titled Dreams and Nocturnes. See the CDs/Review page for information about ordering it.
SIX ROMANCES AFTER MENDELSSOHN
FOR TEN WINDS
The romances of the title are in fact variations on the opening theme of Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony. The instrumentation of ten winds is the same as the Mendelssohn's scoring of the theme but without the divided violas. This concert performance is by Hartt students led by guest conductor Eric Rombach-Kendall.
I was honored to have my String Quartet included on the first CD produced by the great Avalon String Quartet. I've excerpted the last two of four movements here. The piece was commissioned by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music and premiered by the Avalon String Quartet in Tucson.
THREE EXCURSIONS FOR SOLO OBOE
This popular recital piece was commissioned by oboe virtuoso Bert Lucarelli who is heard in this recording. In this music I tried to capture the spirit and melodic character that characterize the music of Spain, France, and Italy. For me Spain is all extravagance with pounding rhythm and florid melodic flourishes. French music is more restrained, subtle, and lyric. Italian music is typified for me by the operas of Rossini.
See the CDs/Review page for information on how to order New Music for Flute and Oboe. Since both Bert Lucarelli and John Wion have retired from performing, this is an historic recording in my not-so-humble opinion.
THREE SMALL RESONANT PIECES
FOR ALTO SAXOPHONE AND PIANO
Saxophonists extraordinaire Carrie Koffman and John Sampen commissioned this work. Many saxophone pieces are jazz inspired or aggressively virtuosic or both, so I tried to compose something that was neither. The music is abstract, understated, and (I hope) poetic. There a few inside-the-piano techniques.
This wonderful recording was made by Carrie Koffman and pianist Lawrence Blind.
TWO POEMS OF HENRY DAVID THOREAU
FOR MIXED CHORUS
Though I sang with the University of Michigan Collegium Musicum, I've composed only a little vocal music. Now that I've retired from teaching, I want to write much more music for voices. This choral work wasn't the result of any commission; I just wanted to set these poems by one of my favorite authors. The second poem, Fog, requires each vocal section to divide in two to build up harmonic clouds. Both settings are modal but not tertian.
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