about me

I was born in Newark, NJ in 1961 and currently live in Wyncote, PA just outside Philadelphia with my family. While in public school in NJ, I also took composition and music theory classes at the Mannes College of Music and then entered the Juilliard School of Music’s Pre-College Division as a composition major, graduating in 1979. Afterwards, I attended the College of the University of Chicago, majoring in biological sciences and receiving an AB with honors in 1983, and then attended the Pritzker School of Medicine at the U of C, receiving an MD degree in 1987. I was a DJ at WHPK-FM, the (at that time) 10-watt radio station at the University, and hosted a weekly new music program that included interviews with composers like Steve Reich, Philip Glass, La Monte Young, Terry Riley and others, most of whom were relatively unknown at that time. After residency in obstetrics and gynecology and a fellowship in pelvic surgery with a focus on gynecologic oncology, I practiced in Philadelphia, most recently at Pennsylvania Hospital where I held faculty appointments at the Thomas Jefferson School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Health System. I was also interim medical director at Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, received a Champion of Choice award from NARAL-PA and was a board member of the Clara Bell Duvall Education Fund and the ACLU of Philadelphia.

Having originally composed serial and 12-tone music, my work gravitated in the early 1980’s towards minimalism and also eventually incorporated very quiet dynamics and few if any instructions for performers. While I do still occasionally employ serial techniques, even some 12-tone rows, my works are almost always based in improvisation and avoid systems in favor of spontaneity. Although many of my works run anywhere from 10-30 minutes in duration, several are much longer, running 1, 2 and over 4 hours without pause. I prefer the term “focused music” rather than “minimalism,” since I think that is a more accurate description, as my music tends to be focused on employing only a few tones at a time (sometimes no more than a single tone), while often making use of complex rhythmic structures and repetition. When repeats are specified, they are suggestions; performers are welcome to increase the number of repetitions if desired.

I have been very fortunate to have encountered performers and champions who have been willing to spend the time and effort to play and interpret several of my works, and these virtuosi include Stephane Ginsburgh, Nicolas Horvath, The Diverse Instrument Ensemble, The Rangzen Quartet, Christina Fong, Glenn Freeman, the University of Tennessee at Martin Contemporary Music Group/Stephen Downing, Yuka Matsumoto, San Diego New Music, Maxim Zolotarenko and others. I also want to give much credit to other composers and friends who have been exceptionally supportive of my music (partial list): Maria de Alvear, Udo Moll, Teresa Coll, Allan Cronin, Kel Smith, Paul Bailey, Simon Rackham, Samuel Vriezen, David Seidel.

My instruments of choice include an Ensoniq KS-32 workstation from the early 90’s that gets maintained by scavenging old parts, as well as an M-Audio 88-key MIDI controller; the latter sits in my office at Gynesonics in Redwood City, CA where I work as their Medical Director, and that has enabled me to compose many works while in hotel rooms at night. I am not a pianist, regrettably. I studied violin for many years as a kid, but that is not really an optimal way to write music.

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