music for use


Senior Recital Recordings

April 1st, 2012; Simon Ramo Recital Hall; USC University Park Campus

from the recital program:

The road to this afternoon’s performance has been a long one. It took time, effort, stress, friends, family, coffee, snack food, an elusive sense of inspiration, paper, pencils, frustrating computer programs, solitude, foolishness, and conviction, among other things, to write the music that you’ll hear today. While I can’t say that all of these pieces perfectly represent my my musical intentions, I can say that I am proud of them. This music is as much about my growth over the past four years as anything else, and for that reason I think it will always be at least a little bit special to me. So, today in Simon Ramo Recital Hall on USC campus, I am happy to present to you my music with honestly, openness, and no apology whatsoever. I hope you enjoy it.

Cooper Ottum

promotional materials by Cara Strever

Clarinet Quartet "among friends" (excerpt)

Stefan Van Sant, Stefani Feldman, and Ran Kampel,
Clarinets in B-flat
Robert Walker, Clarinets in B-flat, Bass Clarinet

(there were some issues with technology, so this recording only includes a portion of the 4th movement of the Quartet)

There’s no hidden meaning in this piece. I didn’t construct any melodies with mathematical devices, there was no divine inspiration involved, and I tried not to include any overt symbolism or references. Instead, this piece was written in hopes that it could be the impetus for a gathering of friends. My musical upbringing was, in many ways, my social upbringing as well, and I think that I’m not alone in that regard. My wish is for this piece to be “about” having fun with musically inclined friends though performance. The audience can judge if the music is enjoyable to hear as well (I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out of the experience).

This work is dedicated to my former clarinet teacher and mentor Rich Briglia, who suggested the creation of this piece and unfortunately passed away in Fall of 2009, before the piece was completed. Rich was a very fine player with a passion for youth music education as well as the regional and global musical community. The music I wrote here is not about him, but it was written as something I feel he would have enjoyed playing.

Completed in the Spring of 2010, in Los Angeles, California.

Prelude and Fugue

Eric Guinivan, Conductor

Michael Matsuno, Flute
Ran Kampel, Clarinet in B-flat, Clarinet in E-flat
Deanna Lynn, Viola
Max Mueller, Violoncello
Alexander Biniaz-Harris, Piano
Sidney Hopson, Percussion


I have a certain fascination with communication among members of a musical ensemble. Mashing together six different instruments (and their respective players) to perform a single unified work often seems like asking for diplomacy between six hostile, independent nation-states. But, of course, things tend to work out: each individual is assertive enough to bring his or her personality to the forefront, while being kind enough to allow others to do the same thing.

The prelude, titled through the smoke is about this kind of communication; about musical storytelling, with the ever-present piano offering a place around which to gather, as well as gentle mediation for the ongoing conversation.

Then there’s the fugue. I imagine that naming a piece after a compositional process is, in some ways, like a subtle apology. “Brace yourself, there will be counterpoint!” the title says. But in this case, I don’t want to apologize. In this case, the fugue is brazen, excessive, and about a quite different kind of musical communication.

First movement completed in the Fall of 2011, in Los Angeles, California. Second movement completed in the Spring of 2012, in Los Angeles, California.


Symmetrical Music

Miranda Scheffel, Horn
Jason Ballmann, Piano


I wrote Symmetrical Music as a way to implement my fascination with symmetrical musical structures into a piece that didn’t sound like nonsense. I also love the Horn, and it’s a fantastic instrument to place in a solo context.

The movement titles come from my musical experiments — the first, Melody, implements symmetrical scalar patterns within a free context; the second, Harmony, unfolds according to chord movement that turns on itself about halfway through (with some alterations as I saw fit); and the third, Rhythm, involves a series of rhythmic palindromes.

It’s not necessary to understand the symmetries to enjoy the piece, rather, they serve as a technical backbone for what I intended as a fun and expressive short solo work for Horn.

Completed in the Fall of 2008, in Los Angeles, California. Minor revisions in Spring 2012.

There has been a storm

text by Genevieve Kaplan

Emma-Grace Dunbar, Soprano
Jasper Jiminez, Piano

This work was written in collaboration with poet Genevieve Kaplan, with help from and in conversation with soprano Emma-Grace Dunbar, as part of the Writer and Composer class co-taught by Professors Frank Ticheli and David St. John.

I was very privileged to be able to work with Vieve’s poetry on this project. Unfortunately for her, I immediately tore apart her text and tried to fit it into whatever strange interpretive reality I was feeling at the moment. What you’ll hear in this music is not so much an accurate read of the poem — it’s more like my take on the way the poetry feels, how it reads, and how it settles in the mind after being viewed on the page.

Completed in the Spring of 2012, in Los Angeles, California.


There has been a storm
by Genevieve Kaplan

along the path of the-place-I-hadn’t-
gone-to (arrived at) before, or the birds
that led me to the-spot-that-didn’t-
exist before, near that patch of (the land
of) dormant flowers, the way to fill
my days, the red shooting-stars and the quaint
leaves. it’s clear there has been a storm, the kind
that blows fall back to summer again in the palms
splayed along (along) the ground or the sun
out above or the mess beside the treeline (treeline) so pleased
to recover here, looking happily to the slight(ly) breezes
in the rabbit-brush, the naturalistic recreation of an afternoon slipping
the length of, about to spear (appear) me from the down the path—I hear it

The Labrador Variations

Hung-Tao Lin, Piano

This piece is loosely based on the actions and mannerisms of my part-labrador (I say “my” loosely, because he lives at home and I only see him for a small portion of the year) Jackson.

I was looking for lighthearted subject material for an original theme and series of parody variations, and Jackson seemed like the perfect candidate. Here you’ll hear some clumsy music, some silly music, and some sleepy music. But, yes, it’s all puppy music.

Completed in the Spring of 2009, in Los Angeles, California.

Extra Special Bonus

Here's another recording from a different Senior Year project (part of USC's Writer and Composer class):


A flutter of modest aspiration

text by Genevieve Kaplan

for Soprano and Guitar


I thought I could pick it up, thought I could pick some up, watched 

the birds hop through the wide wire of the fence, happily, like it was nothing

watched the weeds grow in their rows, watched 

the stalks thicken, the calls 

over the next fence, childish coos

                                       the parking lot 

separating us (up), the squirrel there, the children 

in a line, the bird

                                                posing with its feet 

on the wire, the sun, happily


as if to own a word, as if to live off the land


as if to shake it down, reach in through the bent wires and ease 

up a leaf, (adjust) a stem (of a vegetable), be seen from the porch 

across the way, hear the voices carry through (angry), through

                                                                                   as if 

I could pick them up, as if I had brought

my gloves, if the key opened the other door, if the pile of dead leaves 

was more than for (mulch)