Maggies (1997)

Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, 2 Percussion, Piano/Sampler (one-player), and Pre-Recorded CD


Commissioned by the Fromm Foundation


Maggies combines live instrumental music with sampled ambient sounds and pre-recorded texts by Donald Barthelme, Gordon Lish, and Roger Zahab. The inspiration of the piece was the rhythms and sounds of these texts but especially as they are given contour and musical qualities by the chosen reader, Maggie Lane (my wife). The brief text by Donald Barthelme, positioned at the beginning of the piece, is taken from his book Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts, and is the prelude to the rest of the work. The text by Roger Zahab, Bales in Ayr, is a parody of a section from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake and provides a very “open ended” recurring narrative throughout. The story by Gordon Lish strings together familiar cliches in a “stream of consciousness” manner and is excerpted from The Merry Chase. This text is used in the middle and at the end of the piece and provides a second pseudo narrative. Maggies was originally conceived using short passages from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. After a year of trying to get permission from Joyce’s estate to use the texts in this piece, the grandson of Mr. Joyce, Stephen James Joyce, refused, stating that his grandfather had very particular tastes in music and that he would not have liked my music. He added, as well, that neither he, nor his wife, cared for my music either! After relating this story to my dear friend Roger Zahab, Roger proclaimed that he had read Finnegan’s Wake no less than three times and offered to write a parody of the Joyce text for me. The resulting text is a gem of “deliverative porphyry” and I am extremely grateful.

Read reviews for Maggies

CRI Emergency Music, New World Records NWCR831. California EAR Unit, Stephen Mosko, conductor

C.F. Peters Corporation

Notable Performances

June 4, 2009, Verge Ensemble, June in Buffalo
March 2007, Carnegie Mellon University Contemporary Ensemble, Pittsburgh
October 15, 2003, Network for New Music, University of Delaware
March 29, 2000, Music on the Edge Ensemble, Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh
February 5, 2000, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Katz Auditorium, Pittsburgh
February 2, 1999, Music on the Edge Ensemble, Pittsburgh
November 7, 1998, New York New Music Ensemble, San Diego California, Fromm Foundation Concert.
November 5, 1998, New York New Music Ensemble, Sacramento California, Festival of New American Music
November 3, 1998, New York New Music Ensemble, Claremont California
November 2, 1998, New York New Music Ensemble, Bing Theater, Los Angeles California
October 6, 1998, New York New Music Ensemble, Miller Theater, Sonic Boom Festival
January 14, 1998, California E.A.R. Unit, Bing Theater, Los Angeles


Maggies performed by EAR Unit, Stephen Mosko, conductor