My entire career has been made as a collaborator among people with creative ideas and scholarly inquiry, generating innovative and meaningful projects. This includes twenty years as an international guitar soloist, ensemble performer and conductor with nearly 100 world premiere performances and numerous recordings to my credit. My repertoire spans the gamut of historical periods and styles from late fourteenth century polyphony to recent contemporary music that crosses genres as well as jazz. I am also an historian, with research centered on apocalyptic thought as manifested throughout history and through various media (literature, art, music, popular culture).
I hold a D.M.A. in Contemporary Music Performance, and have focused extensively on issues of interpretation and pedagogy in late-twentieth and twenty first-century music. This includes giving the U.S. premiere of works by leading European composers of the avant-garde, including Chaya Czernowin, Franco Donatoni, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, Vinko Globokar, Helmut Lachenmann and Rolf Riehm. My doctoral thesis focused on modern music pedagogy, addressing topics of complex rhythm and the expansive expressive palette found in seminal guitar repertoire of the past fifty years. It was published as The Vanguard Guitar: Etudes and Exercises for the Study of Contemporary Music (Quebec: Productions d’OZ, 2004).
As a soloist, chamber musician and conductor, my work has particularly focused on five artistic trajectories within music of the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries, their histories, and their intersections:
• Complexity, high notation precision, threshold performative challenges, experimental notation and performative techniques. Representative composers include Brian Ferneyhough, Franklin Cox, Adam Greene, Christopher Burns, Erik Ulman, Chaya Czernowin, Tristan Murail, Salvatore Sciarrino and Elliott Carter.
• High-intensity grooves, minimalism, postminimalism. Representative composers include Louis Andriessen, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Frederic Rzewski, and Sergio Cervetti.
• Evocative aural soundscapes. Representative composers include Matthew Burtner, Philip Blackburn, Sungji Hong, Orlando Jacinto Garcia, Kaija Saariaho, Jacob David Sudol, and Toru Takemitsu.
• Works including electronic and/or video media. Representative composers include Juan Campoverde Q., Dorrance Stalvey, Anthony Tan, Jon Forshee, Madelyn Byrne, Mario Davidovsky and Derek Keller.
• Works involving text recitation. Representative composers include Vinko Globokar, Stuart Saunders Smith, Christopher Adler, Tom Johnson and Charles Amirkhanian.
More recently, I have published on apocalyptica, that is, all phenomena—e.g., literature, visual art, music, film, philosophy—that are integrally informed by an apocalyptic worldview. My current work in this area includes four book projects.
1. As the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Apocalyptic Literature (2020), I brought together a team of international scholars—both established figures as well as emerging voices—to address a wide variety of topics within the broad definition of apocalyptic: from early Jewish and Christian apocalypses, to the rich commentary tradition and reception history of the Book of Revelation, to apocalypticism in contemporary society.
2. I rendered the first translation into any vernacular language of the Latin Cambridge Glossa in Apocalypsin (Brepols, Corpus Christianorum in Translation, 2020), along with a commentary. This is a recently-discovered anonymous Hiberno-Latin (that is, authored by an Irish cleric writing in Latin) commentary on the Apocalypse of John found in a tenth-century manuscript at Cambridge University Library. This gloss is written in a similar style as other Irish-authored exegetical texts of the same period. That is, the author proceeds verse by verse through the entire Apocalypse, citing short phrases or even single words of the biblical text, followed by brief explanations that serve to clarify meaning and are often moral or allegorical in nature, as well as offering alternative interpretations of a given passage. The text has a marked dependence on the hermeneutical method of Tyconius as laid out in his Liber Regularum (Book of Rules), and applied in his Exposition on the Apocalypse. It emphasizes an ecclesiological and spiritual interpretation of the Apocalypse, contains numerous references to heretics, and dates from the eighth-century, the ‘Northumbrian Golden Age’, exemplified by the works of Bede the Venerable.
3. With Lorenzo DiTommaso of Concordia University Montréal, I am editing a volume entitled Dies irae, dies illa: Music in the Apocalyptic Mode (Brill, Word and Music series, 2022). This volume explores ‘music in the apocalyptic mode’ from the late Middle Ages to the present day. Although studies on specific apocalyptic musical works are not unknown, dedicated volumes on the subject are rare, and inevitably focus almost exclusively on the lyrical content of contemporary popular music. Our volume seeks to address this oversight. It features eighteen original papers that investigate the manifold expressions of apocalyptic music from the historical, thematic, and musicological standpoints.
4. Also with Lorenzo DiTommaso, I am editing a volume entitled The Mediaeval Apocalyptic Tradition: From the Twilight of the Roman Empire to the Dawn of Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2023). The correspondence among the apocalyptic texts of eastern Christianity, western Christianity, Judaism, and Islam during the “mediaeval millennium” (late IV/V to XV centuries) is so great in terms of its geographic extent and historical persistence that we can identify a “common mediaeval apocalyptic tradition” that transcended region, language, culture, religion, and social class. The primary goal of this volume is to present a new model of mediaeval apocalypticism, considered in its panoramic sense. Much of the evidence that supports this model is not new. What is new is the interpretation, which allows us to see more clearly what the evidence suggests, comprehending mediaeval apocalypticism in its totality and in light of current scholarly currents and research attitudes. What is also new is the presentation of the model and its evidence in a comprehensive volume like this.
Each spring, I host Through a Glass, Darkly: UCCS Symposium on Apocalyptica at the Heller Center for Arts & Humanities. Upcoming and former presenters include: Dylan M. Burns (Free University of Berlin), John J. Collins (Yale Divinity School), David Cook (Rice University), Lorenzo DiTommaso (Concordia University Montreal), Amy Frykholm, Jesse Hoover (Baylor University), Daniel G. Hummel (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Nathaniel Kidd (Marquette University), E. Ann Matter (University of Pennsylvania), Bernard McGinn (University of Chicago Divinity School), Ian Paul (University of Nottingham), Omar Rojas Camarena (Mexico City), and several colleagues from my home university (Brian Duvick, Francis X. Gumerlock, Suzanne MacAulay and Jeff Scholes). I also teach a concomitant course in the Humanities program at UCCS called Visions of Darkness: Apocalypse in Literature and History. For more information on the symposium, visit: https://www.uccs.edu/apocalyptic