Composer’s Statement


Katherine Murdock at Carnegie Hall for the world premier of “Trees Dream of Dancing.”

I think that the unifying element in my music is drama, not in a programmatic, storytelling sense, but in how it moves the listener through time.

Elements of tension and release create a sense of forward momentum. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end.  I rely heavily on gesture, rather than system. I’m not interested in manipulating tone rows or set classes; I want my music to be about something. Extra-musical elements I’ve tried to express over the years have included (not necessarily all at once) nature imagery, humor, and aspects of the human condition.

Nearly all of my music has been written for a specific person or group. I find this interactive element of the process to be very inspiring; in fact, I can’t imagine just composing a piece for myself alone. In collaborating with performers I strive to write music that is idiomatic for their instruments or voices. I’ve been lucky to be able to compose for many highly skilled musicians; thus my music is often technically difficult. I want my work to be a challenge for performers without being thankless. I always hope that they find it to be worth their time and effort.