Hey there! I'm Griffin, a third-year DMA here – originally from Michigan, and definitely a big Michigan person (in both senses!)
Every project I undertake starts and ends with collaboratively creating a space that takes the needs and aims of all its involved creators into account—that is, I do not write music for myself. I write music for other people. (I write music that has me in it, but it is not for me.)
It is vital to me that the music I write not only “fits” its ensemble and performers, that it’s highly idiomatic, that it’s thoughtful and feasible, but also that it is tailored to them (as both performers and individuals) as closely as possible—that it approaches the topics that mean the most to them, that it shows off the things that they hope to show off. It is similarly vital to me that the music I write is a bridge from performer to audience: if the performer has something to say, my job is to give them the vocabulary to convey that story, to declutter the process, to help them speak clearly.
I love — love love love — to meet new folks; I love hearing about their interests, about what makes them tick; I love finding the subject that others can ramble about, because it always allows them to be their most authentic, enthusiastic selves. I love to hear about their dream projects, because dream projects always feel impossible until they’re real. I always want to dream big. I like reaching for the seemingly-impossible; I like shooting the moon — let’s shoot the moon together. ♡
For a comprehensive look at my educational history and past commissions, you can find my résumé and curriculum vitae here.
Work samples are linked below in preferred order, with scores linked below each of the pieces' audio. You can begin all audio clips at the beginning — they're all pretty brief! If you have any questions or would like any further samples, please feel free to reach out to me.
Superior String Quartet
Danielle Simandl and Lauren Pulcipher, violins
Ria Hodgson, viola — Kelly Quesada, cello)
Revenge Body is part of a series of pieces I've been slowly adding to for a few years about youth — mostly, a more literal and messy depiction of youth. Most classic representations of youth in art portray a calm, joyful, and idyllic time, free of responsibilities or concerns — but, to those still in their youth, it is rarely calm and sparsely joyful. This piece is meant to capture some of the aimlessness and distress of youth, especially in uncertain times.
The title movement (Revenge Body) is a double-entendre. On one hand, it is my generation's term for the (unhealthy) act of getting particularly fit after the end of a relationship, literally only to spite your former partner. On another hand, the two words out of context spur an image of self-resolve: that the best way to silence those who dislike you is to unabashedly be yourself — your best revenge is to simply exist.
(movement III begins on page 9)
Alexandra Nowakowski, soprano
Robert Ainsley, piano
Fox Songs is a cycle for soprano that celebrates a single image through the lenses of multiple poets — poems by Jane Hirshfield and Caki Wilkinson, and a new poem that I commissioned from Anastasia Pennington-Flax, all using a fox as the central metaphor. The act is something like multiple painters painting the same still life, and the result is absolutely fascinating.
This first poem by Jane Hirshfield uses the fox as a metaphor for the things that we try to tuck away inside of us — the failures, the loss, the lusts, the doubts. It describes two people crossing a field and seeing three foxes, silent at the edge of the forest before they disappear into it, "as if they had never been." Hirshfield argues that, as much as we try to keep these things inside of us, we will always know that they're there — and those hidden things "know us for who [we are]."
Cathie Apple, flute — Milun Doskovic, clarinet — Jennifer Reason, piano Ben Prima, percussion — Amy Lindsey, violin —Tim Stanley, cello
Buckboard Charlie was commissioned by Citywater (of Sacramento, CA) to go alongside a series that they had commissioned the year prior for an anniversary of the National Parks, specifically asking me to write a piece about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where I currently live. I leapt at the chance, because I love this place to death — its history is not unlike the rest of our country: natural beauty, the scars of industry, a lineage of a lot of hopeful immigrants aiming to build and find something meaningful.
The Upper Hand comes from the very Michigan thing that Michiganders do where they use their hands as a map for the state — the back of your left for the lower peninsula, and a sideways hand above it for the upper. This track is meant to embody the spirit of a very hearty, energetic, and proud group that live in a place and climate that doesn't always love us back.
(movement III begins on page 16)