My driving force as a composer, songwriter and ethnomusicologist is to build bridges across cultural divides through music. My work of the past ten years has been a dialogue with folk music communities in North and South America. Whether in subtle or transformative ways, I want to communicate a sense of the musical diversity and the social and economic ties–both beautiful and problematic–that bind the Americas.
~Click here to download Full Press Kit (audio, images and biographies of different lengths)~
I write songs that blend North American and Latin American traditions. My trio, Ends of the Earth, toured between 2010 and 2014 as part of the PennPAT (Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour) roster. As a soloist, performance highlights include concerts at the Panama Jazz Festival and the Sala América in Santiago, Chile. This work has been fueled by studies with legendary folk musicians Alfonso Rubio, Chosto Ulloa, and Patricia Chavarría, sponsored by grants from the Fulbright Commission and the Organization of American States. South American songwriters like Violeta Parra and Atahualpa Yupanqui are also my role models for their poignant songs that spring from traditional roots and paint a vivid picture of the injustices faced by marginalized groups.
Most recently, my trio The Early Mays, debuted at #2 on the National Folk DJ Charts, remaining in top ten rotation for three months. We were selected as WYEP’s top artist of 2014, described by DJ Cindy Howes as a “group that brings traditional and original material to spectacular life…a rare combination of knowledge and talent.” This trio is an outlet for twenty years of old-time fiddle, guitar and banjo playing: watching and learning from master musicians like Brad Leftwich, Lester McCumbers, Chirps Smith, Thomas Maupin and others. I’m honored to play alongside Ellen Gozion and Rachel Eddy in this beautiful group.
While most of my writing takes the form of folk songs, I’ve revisited my classical roots in the last few years, bringing traditional sensibilities to chamber ensemble pieces. Currently, I’m finishing the last movement of “Rounder Songs,” a song cycle for voice, banjo and NOW Ensemble in collaboration with Patrick Burke that won a 2015 New Music USA Grant as well as a 2016 Creative Development Grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. I am also working on a suite for piano, guitar, violin, vibraphone and bass for the South American music collective, Chirihue, that is a tribute to Chilean traditional song, or canto a lo poeta.