The Helpless Song Cycle

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About the Cycle

The Helpless Song Cycle is a work that spans over three years and throughout most of my study at Carnegie Mellon University. Throughout its composition, not only did my writing style evolve but so did the purpose of the song cycle. I intended to challenge myself to sympathize with ailments in society. In that process, however, I learned about the unresolved issues within myself that I was projecting onto society. I began to use the song cycle to solve them. This process educated me but also became therapeutic. At times, I felt exorcised of these issues by the premieres of my songs.

With each song, I’ve listed the completion and premiere of the original piano/vocal piece. In January, 2017, I completed the full orchestration of the first four songs. This was for an ensemble of 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn accompanying a soprano. This version was performed on February 15th, 2017 by Lindsey Chinn (soprano), Kyoko Inagawa (violin I), Abby Adams (violin II,, Angela Rubin (viola), Bronwyn Hagerty (cello), Sarah Ransom (bass), Ali Dettmer (flute), Shoshana Klein (oboe/English horn), Anna Menkis (clarinet/bass clarinet), Shane M. Gillen (bassoon), Sam Slockbower (horn) and myself as conductor.

The final song, “Hedonism,” was premiered by the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic with Lindsey Chinn (soprano), Sameer Apte (solo cello), and Daniel Nesta Curtis ( as the conductor.

I. Body

A dark beginning in a troubled time within one body.

II. Mind

A minimalist telling of the overwhelming tale of Alzheimer’s.

III. Soul

A parallel telling of three stories to see what’s in the mind of the violent.

IV. Sexualization

A voice within a man’s head, fighting for right, and seeing what’s wrong.

V. Archetypes

A clouded view of how we see the ones we admire.

VI. Hedonism

An obsession with purity and the consequences of letting one’s mind wander.


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