Engaging Classical Music
The music you will find here tells stories—some fun and charming, others wistful or poignant—all while preserving those aspects that make classical music so engaging: expressive structures, rich harmonies, interesting counterpoint, varied color palette, and careful craftsmanship.
I am a firm believer that sophisticated/deep/artful music can (and should) still be accessible. Crafting music that is both deep and accessible results in music that is engaging—from the first listening to the hundredth.
These aesthetics reflect my several loves in classical music.
I love counterpoint, whether it is a Josquin madrigal, Mozart’s Requiem, or a Schubert piano trio.
I love the broad structures composers create. For example, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony starts with a movement that is almost 14 minutes long—nearly unheard of in popular music.
I love the inventiveness of Haydn, the variety exemplified by Beethoven’s symphonies, the expressiveness of Elgar…
My love of this kind of music is what led me to composing. If you enjoy what you encounter on these pages, please drop me a line. But most of all, enjoy!
I’ve conducted about a half-dozen of Chris’s works, and what I love most about them is their immediacy. At every moment there is a potent direction, a flow that informs the listener that something interesting is happening now, that a story is being told, that emotions are steadily evolving toward some definable end. Chris imbues every page with structure and craftsmanship and careful planning, all geared toward the single purpose of a passionate, directly communicable, and intrinsically human experience.
Classical music does share a lot with “popular” music with regards to structure. What helps make a pop song work is often its well-crafted structure. For example, Sting’s oeuvre is filled with excellently structured song. Classical music, however, more often takes this consideration of structure to larger extremes, and its inventions of extended forms such as the sonata or rondo, are examples of how abstract music can maintain meaning and interest—telling a story about the music itself—over stretches of 15 or 20 minutes for a single movement.
Inventiveness keeps music fresh, responsible for all of the variety of music we enjoy today. It shows up as ingenuity, creating new solutions to old problems. It shows up as novelty, trying something that has never been done before, perhaps for no other reason than it seems “right”. It shows up as creativity, exploring possibilities that couldn’t even be thought about before.
Counterpoint means so much more than fugues and canons! One of the ways classical music differs from “popular” music is how profoundly influenced it is by counterpoint. Counterpoint influences voice leading in the simplest hymn to full symphonies. Counterpoint it what makes a Tchaikovsky counter melody so rich and beautiful. Counterpoint creates chords within phrases. Counterpoint is an aesthetic, an expression of laws of nature. It is multiple simultaneous conversations that are so interesting, we can’t help but strive to pay attention to all of them at once!
Ultimately, the reason we love music is that music touches us. Music bypasses our defenses and speaks to our hearts. The emotion expressed by music draws us in, builds a connection among us: listeners, performers, composers. Join me in drawing together—perhaps you have a story to be told!