Music

For inquiries about scores, parts and other performance materials, please use the CONTACT FORM or send an email to sean@seanfriar.com.
Click HERE for COMPLETE LIST OF WORKS

Chamber

 

Little Green Pop (2008, rev. 2012) 10′
for sop. sax, ten. sax, tbn, elec. gtr, pno, perc, sound engineer
WINNER of 2009 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award
written for and recorded by Ensemble Klang.
Additional performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Present Music, Le Train Bleu, and UNC Greensboro New Music Ensemble.
_

 

Scale 9 (2009) 6′
for clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion
also available are sextet (fl, cl, vln, vcl, pno, perc) and septet (fl, cl, vln, vla, vcl, pno, perc) versions
Recorded by TRANSIT for their debut EP, TRANSIT.
Commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival. Performances by Argento Ensemble, Alter Ego, TRANSIT, Psappha Ensemble, What’s Next? Ensemble, BGSU Contemporary Players, Thornton EDGE Ensemble, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble.


 
 

Velvet Hammer (2009) 6:30
for flute, clarinet, electric guitar, piano, acoustic bass
WINNER of 2011 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award
Nominee for the 2011 GAUDEAMUS Prize
commissioned by NOW Ensemble. Additional performances by Crash Ensemble, Ensemble Klang, Alter Ego, BGSU Contemporary Players, and Left Coast Ensemble.
CLICK HERE FOR THE ALBUM VERSION

 

 

Two Solitudes (2014) 11:00
for flute, viola, and harp
commissioned by the New World Symphony. Performed by members of the New World Symphony (Grace Browning, Henrik Heide, Tony Parce).

Etude for English Horn and Prepared Piano (2012, revised 2014) 12:30
for English horn and prepared piano
composed at the American Academy in Rome. Original premiere by Claire Brazeau and Sean Friar. Revised premiere and recording by Claire Brazeau and Danny Holt.

 

One-way Trip (2011-12) 25′
clarinet, horn, piano, 2 violins, viola, cello, and bass.
Commissioned by the American Academy in Rome. Live premiere recording by the Berlin Philharmonic Scharoun Ensemble.

 

Short Winds (2010) 7′
versions for wind quintet and saxophone quartet.
I. Wiggle Room 3′
II. Lick Machine 3′
Commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival. Recorded by the Aspen Wind Quintet (Francesco Camuglia, Claire Brazeau, James Shields, Darrel Hale, Michael Oswald). Additional performances by Quintet of the Americas, Darmstadt Staatsorchester, Madera Wind Quintet, CLAW, and students of the Yale School of Music. Sax Quartet version performed by Apeiron Sax Quartet and QUADRAtomic Sax Quartet.

 

Fighting Words (2010) 14′
for soprano, cl/b. cl, vln, vcl, elec gtr, piano, perc, drum kit
Commissioned and recorded by Newspeak. Additional performances by What’s Next? Ensemble.

 

Short Orbit (2009) 8′
for piccolo/alto flute, viola and harp
written for and recorded by Janus.  Additional performances by Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble.

String Quartet (2009) 14′
for string quartet
written for the Formalist Quartet

Hell-Bent (2006) 9′
for violin, cello and piano
WINNER of the 2008 Lee Ettelson Composers Award (Composers Inc.)
WINNER of a 2007 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award
recorded by the New Pacific Trio. Additional performances by New Millennium Ensemble.

On every level—from the tiny gesture that permeates the piece, to the large-scale structure—Hell-Bent is a series of intense crests, with each hurdle seeming larger and more daunting than the last.

Initially, I approached the piece from an abstract perspective, thinking it would be a fun compositional project to work with a musical idea that is incapable of being static, that is—like a black hole—always racing toward its own demise as it increases in energy and contracts towards singularity. It became clear fairly quickly, however, that the piece was much more autobiographical than it was about an abstract idea, and that my urge to write something with so much urgency and unease likely had something to do with my going through the frazzling and nerve-wracking process of applying to grad school at the same time. Finishing the piece well before I knew the outcome and could hope to write a happy ending, the music never resolves itself; instead, after a brief respite, it goes through one more large crest, and vanishes.

Bad Wiring (2006) 5′
for fl, cl/b. cl, (doubling bass), vln, pno, 2 perc.
Commissioned and recorded by the Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble

Solo

Wind-up Etude (2012) 5′
for solo piano
commissioned by the Fisher Piano Competition. Recording coming in May 2013. Performances by the competitors of the Fisher Piano Competition.

 

Teaser (2010) 10′
for solo cello
commissioned by Mariel Roberts.  Recording from Roberts’ premiere performance.  Additional performances by Francesco Dillon, Christophe Matthias, and Richard Duven.

Whether in music, or story-telling, or dating, a good tease always seems to be about giving just enough of something to keep the one being teased – if not a bit ruffled and challenged – tantalized, and drawn into what the teaser is going to do next. Like that, this piece thrives on acknowledging the expectations it sets up and toying with them, and on continually reinterpreting its own ideas in mischievous and unexpected ways. The provocative and playful opening sets the tone for a piece in which music of extravagance, coquettishness, or naïvete, can quickly give way to that of plaintiveness, frenzy or derangement.
Though Teaser is not meant to be a theatrical piece, the performer is encouraged to physically communicate and exaggerate the large variety of affects and emotions inherent in the music.

Elastic Loops (2007) 8′
for solo piano
WINNER of a 2008 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award
WINNER of the Hawaii Institute of Contemporary Music Competition
commissioned by Ruby Cheng. Additional performances by Thomas Rosenkranz, Marco Marzocchi, and Sean Friar.
recorded by Sean Friar

Written as a parting gift for my undergraduate piano teacher, Elastic Loops is a fusion of our two very different styles of playing. My tendency has always been towards powerful and explosive gestures; my teacher, on the other hand, plays with a graceful fluidity and refined touch, which she valiantly tried to instill in me during our lessons. The result of this alchemy is a piece that requires both modes of playing, with the former often interrupting and sometimes derailing the latter.

The title, Elastic Loops, describes the primary way in which the piece develops: there are loops, or ostinati, that are gradually condensed, elongated, thinned out and cut short. Sometimes this happens subtly, with the result being a sense that one is listening to a repeating loop with minute variations between each repetition; at other times, the ostinati are changing in so many ways between each subsequent iteration that the music sounds as if it is continuously developing, rather than based on any sort of repeating figure.

Oboemobo (2010) 7′
for oboe and effects pedals
commissioned by Music Alive! at Bard College and Conservatory of Music for oboist Claire Brazeau

 

Percussion

Burn-off (2012) 3′
for percussion quartet
commissioned by Line C3 Percussion

Recording coming soon.

 

Ruining Fusion (2008) 9′ (EXCERPT)
for percussion quartet
written for and recorded by So Percussion

 

Dawn Raid (2006) 9′
for eight percussionists
Commissioned by the University of Northern Iowa Percussion Ensemble

Electronics/Multimedia

Boomdinger (2009) 9′
for laptop orchestra, video, and optional percussion
Collaboration with Cameron Britt.
written for and recorded by the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk), Matmos and So Percussion

[pro-player]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xdt6YiM0cbU[/pro-player]
You may also watch the video directly on YouTube.

Orchestra

Noise Gate (2013) 11′
for orchestra
Commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra (Marin Alsop, Director)
Premiered by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. Additional performances by the University of Northern Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
 

Clunker Concerto (2010-2011) 19′
for percussion quartet on junk car parts and chamber orchestra
Commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra (George Manahan, Director).
Performed by Line C3 Percussion and the American Composers Orchestra.  Additional performances by the Purchase Conservatory Orchestra (cond. by Ransom Wilson) and Contemporaneous Ensemble (cond. David Bloom).
Three minutes of excerpts are posted here (this is all that I am legally allowed to post). Please contact me/send an email if you’d like a perusal copy of the complete recording and I will be happy to send it to you.

 

When starting Clunker Concerto, my first impulse was to write a raucous, in-your-face piece in which a junk car is broken down into its constituent parts, creating an arsenal of new and abrasive junk percussion instruments. And while there is still plenty of that clangor in Clunker, as I began to explore the array of junk I’d acquired on my several trips to the local junkyard, it dawned on me that it might be more fruitful to not just use the junk as a means of adding extra grit to the orchestra, but to delve as deeply as possible into the subtleties of each junk instrument in order to see what sounds might be coaxed out of them, and how the orchestra could respond to and interact with those sounds.

Whether it is a tam-tam made of sheet metal whose pitch spectrum informs the orchestral harmonies played against it, or the acoustic beating of two closely-tuned car wheels mimicked by woodwind multiphonics, or even the inherent pitch abilities (or more aptly, limitations) of a bowed fender being used to determine the orchestra’s melody notes; I try to explore the nuances and capabilities of each junk instrument as carefully as I would were I writing for a violin, clarinet, or any other traditional instrument. The result is a rather “un-percussiony” percussion concerto – just as often as items are struck with mallets and hammers, they are bowed, scraped and massaged. (The bowed fender goes so far as to involve bowing with the right hand while fingering the fender like a fretboard with the left; this allows the bowed pitch to be adjusted by a semitone, which ultimately turns it into a fully chromatic instrument!) I was happy to discover that by using the idiosyncratic and often wonky natures of the junk instruments as a starting point, I was able to come up with musical ideas I would have never otherwise thought of. Much of these ideas focus on seeking out the common timbral ground between these unusual junk sounds and those of the orchestra, and finding ways to fuse those two sound worlds as deeply as possible. The other, more playful, side of the piece, is its desire to capture the rickety, hobbling nature of a junk car. The music sputters along through off-kilter grooves, has abrupt shifts in tempo akin to an old car haltingly changing gears, and features belligerent and uncouth orchestrations.

Though some of the junk used in Clunker Concerto is unlikely to catch on (few orchestras have access to psychedelically painted VW Bug hoods), most of what I have used is readily available in any junkyard. Furthermore, many of the junk instruments turned out to be surprisingly robust and versatile, which gives me hope that some of them will become more common additions to percussion ensembles and orchestral percussion sections in the future. Perhaps there is room for a bowed hubcap orchestra somewhere.

 

Out of Line (2008, rev. 2009) 9′
for chamber orchestra
commissioned by the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival;
revised for and recorded by the American Composers Orchestra

contact me for a perusal recording

_______________________________________________________________