On New Opera and Film Music


I’ve often been asked why I would want to compose an opera and while I actually expect this question to arise among those who know me primarily through my work as a film composer, when it’s asked by accomplished composers who have also composed operas, it seems that its answer lies more in the philosophical than the practical.

Does a Composer’s Body Need to be Tuned?


Professional singers and dancers have always been trained to think of their bodies as delicate instruments that need constant maintenance, instrumentalists less so, but is it possible that we have not recognized heretofore that a composer’s body is itself an instrument, too?

Complexity Wars

The Complexity Wars flared up again this summer—that seemingly annual outbreak of the opinion that various types of atonal modernism are just too complicated for proper musical consumption.

New York State of Mind


I’ve achieved enough success that my day job currently supplements my income as a composer, but I could not have accomplished the things I have accomplished had I been living in New York.

Music Education in Detroit’s Public Schools: The Struggle to Survive

sheet music

In March 2010, drastic fiscal measures were proposed to balance the Detroit city budget which included the firing of all arts teachers in the Detroit Public School system. Operatic tenor George Shirley, university emeritus professor of music and former director of the Vocal Arts Division of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, began documenting the situation, and we asked him to share his information with NewMusicBox.

No More Outsiders

Summer Solstice 2009

The Nemmers Prize is a welcome sign that my music seems to resonate “out there” in the larger world; At the same time, I’ve found myself wondering: Does this mean that I’m no longer an outsider?

Insights on Blindness and Composing


I had little or no real appreciation for the constraints that blindness enforced upon my career choices, my creative development, and my entire musical evolution because, having never seen the world as the fully sighted do, I had no way of imagining any other world than the one in which I lived.

Reflections on the Pulitzer


The Pulitzer isn’t just about me or the Violin Concerto; it’s also about something that was reflected in the concert tonight: the myriads of folks who have taught me in various ways.