COMPOSITIONS

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A CITY OF FACES (2019)

FOR ALTO SAXOPHONE SOLO

A CITY OF FACES is dedicated to my grandmother and my Detroit family. 

Cities are a constantly changing landscape. For Detroit in particular, gentrification has been a powerful force in making the city into what it has now become. Going back and seeing my hometown through my eyes as an adult is jarring. Old things I once knew are gone and many others have a fresh face. This brings me to question: is Detroit still home if I don't recognize it? 

Through writing A CITY OF FACES, I explore this idea and the true meaning of 'home'. I do believe that Detroit is still my home because of the people who are there and the love we share. A city isn't just a collection of buildings, it is also made of the people—the faces—who live there.

HIGHEST GOOD (2019)

FIXED MEDIA, STEREO

Written in collaboration with Colin Frederick for the 2019 UMKC Dance Collaboration.

This piece focuses on regaining a connection to a higher power.

BoS (2019)

FOR ALTO SAXOPHONE AND FIXED MEDIA

          The Battle of the Sexes is a never-ending quarrel that humans have contemplated since the beginning of our existence. Today, we are bombarded by needlessly gendered products and activities. Many individuals have begun push back against gender stereotypes as we evolve, and people no longer find a usefulness for gender roles. BoS addresses this fight between masculine and feminine that occurs on every level in our society. In the end, the battle cannot be won by either side—the only solution is compromise. This piece will receive its world premiere at Ikigaii (Night Two) on April 13th at the Weinberger Fine Art Drawing Room.

ONE NATION UNDER GOD (2018)

FIXED MEDIA, 5.1 SURROUND SOUND (OR STEREO)

ONE NATION UNDER GOD is a work for 5.1 surround sound tackling the issue of gun violence in America. With the rise of publicity surrounding mass shootings and inaction from our elected representatives I have decided to take a stand against gun violence with sound. This is a problem that is close to my heart as I recently lost my father due to gun violence. Gun control is one of many policies that we should agree on as a country, but are somehow unable to focus and set aside our differences when it comes to this issue. My goal is to give the listener a visceral, realistic, and emotional glimpse into what it is like to experience gun violence first hand. 

BREAK DOWN. BREAK FREE. (2018)

FIXED MEDIA, STEREO

Written in Collaboration with Alexandra Smith as part of the 2018 UMKC Dance Collaboration

BREAK DOWN. BREAK FREE. is inspired by Alex Smith's journey to recovery from debilitating injury. In this piece we explore three elements of the self-- Body, Mind, and Spirit-- and how they interact and deal with pain through the recovery process.

ASLEEP ON THE TRAIN (2018)

FIXED MEDIA, STEREO

Duration: 15 mins, 30 sec.

               ASLEEP ON THE TRAIN is a piece of musique concrète that features samples from four European cities I visited in the spring of 2017. Each movement highlights the sounds of each city and the differences and similarities between them. My intention in writing this piece is to enhance and explore the natural sounds of my recorded samples with minimal processing. My hope is to use musique concrète to broaden the perspectives of audience members and to heighten their perception of the world around them.

I. Paris
               Your first stop. Your memories swirl around you. Scenes from the previous day surge forward and backward in space and time.
II. Barcelona
               Your sleep is more restless than your Parisian journey. Perhaps you had too many drinks at tapas last night?
III. London
               In London, the tube is as polite as the people seem to appear. Things are more familiar to you, but still slightly off kilter.
IV. Amsterdam
               Amsterdam is a bustling city. No more so than any of the others, but its construction and organization are significantly different. Here you are overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the city and your rest reflects the same feeling.

THIS IS NOT A MIRROR (2018)

FIXED MEDIA, STEREO; FILM BY NATALIE BERGER

Program Notes by Filmmaker:

               This is Not a Mirror is inspired by the idea that no matter how hard a person tries, one can never see what they truly appear as in reality. On a physical level, one must always view themselves via reflection, photograph, shadow, or other means of duplication. It is impossible to step out of your body to take a true look at yourself the way the rest of the world is able to.
On another level, a person is constantly being filtered through other people and society. If no external forces ever affected someone, how would they have developed on their own? As a woman, I’ve come to know that we are constantly held under a microscope--beauty, docility, and sexuality becoming cornerstones of what it means to be a woman. Those constant pressures lead to a loss of identity; what is truly me and what is influence?

               My vision for This is Not a Mirror came from a dream, surreal images of blank eyes and a room of mirrors haunting me, my own self following me wherever I go in a bank of shop windows.
I’ve always enjoyed the styling of Maya Deren, her strong yet subtle feminine viewpoint of the world acting as a breath held at bay--a calm before the storm. Her style has heavily influenced this piece as well as many other of my pieces.

               In addition to Maya Deren, I’ve always pondered the concept of Rene Margritte’s 1928 painting “This is not a Pipe”. While it is in fact a “pipe” it is only an illustration of a pipe and not a pipe itself. With that in mind, the duplicated images of a person are not the person itself. A video representation of me, is still not me--nor is a mirrored image, shadow, or photograph of me. They are only filtered images of a girl.

SIMULACRUM (2018)

FOR IMPROVISERS AND FIXED MEDIA

Written in Collaboration with Seth Davis, Tim Harte and Alex Williams for the Emerging Midwest Composers Conference (EMCC)

               A simulacrum is an image or representation of someone or something. Within the context of this piece, we blur the lines between the electronics and the performers, creating a synthesis between these two elements.

satanos cillatem ym etallicso natas (2016-2018)

FOR 2 PIANOS OR PIANO SOLOIST AND ORCHESTRA

A man, a plan, a concerto, piano. 
 
               When you look into a mirror what do you see? A distorted view of our world? Or another one altogether? Everything is there, but it's slightly rearranged. In this piece, I attempted to deconstruct rondo form by using mirrored sections rather than repeated ones, creating a diverse landscape with its own internal reflections and symmetries. I achieved this by composing each section forwards and using the retrograde with some change as it reappears. In this way, the piece becomes distorted itself as the sections are mirrored. Minus the cadenza, this piece is palindromic in nature, hence the name: satanos cillatem ym etallicso natas.

METAMORPHOSIS (2017)

FOR SOPRANO, FLUTES, AND PERCUSSION

               Metamorphosis is inspired by the life cycle of a butterfly and my struggle with depression and mental illness. Just like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, depression causes you to change into a stronger, more beautiful version of yourself. In this piece, I wanted the players to mature as the piece goes on. The ideas and text get longer and more complex as it progresses. Special thanks goes to Ariel Downs, for commissioning this piece and for inspiring me to take on such a worthwhile challenge.

IMPROVISATION I: CELLULAR INTERCHANGE (2017)

FOR 3 OR MORE MUSICIANS

               Cellular Interchange gets its roots from the minimalist school of music. My goal was to write a piece that could be performed on basically any pitched instrument and simultaneously required focus, while still being meditative. My main inspirations were Terry Riley's "In C" and the works of the Philip Glass Ensemble.

MONTAUK MONSTER (2017)

FIXED MEDIA

               Montauk Monster is a 3-part electronic piece inspired by the Netflix Original, Stranger Things. In Montauk Monster, a beast escapes from an experimental research facility and wreaks havoc on the surrounding area.

ENTITIES (2017)

FOR ALTO SAXOPHONE AND FIXED MEDIA

               Entities was written in collaboration with Ayana Roberson as part of UMKC's Advanced Choreography class. In Entities, three territorial creatures from a strange world meet and interact for the first time.​

NOOSPHERE (2016)

FOR 2 ALTO SAXOPHONES

               Noosphere was commissioned by Taylor Scott-Brooks, a friend that I have performed with, but have never met in person. The piece is inspired by a performance where we performed saxophone duets in two different physical locations simultaneously, where Taylor was at the concert in Maryland and I performed via web conference. The concert was part of the Instant Chamber Concert series where performers are given one week to learn new compositions written by students at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University. A few months after our performance, Taylor commissioned me to write a saxophone duet and I was brought back to our first interaction. The word Noosphere means “the sphere of human thought” and it refers to both our head-space and the sphere of invisible data flying through our skies.

L'INFINITO (2014, ed. 2016)

FOR MEZZO-SOPRANO, BARITONE, AND PIANO

               L'infinito is dedicated to the memory of my late godfather, Jose Flores. Papa Joe, as I knew him, was a visual artist/pointilist based in Rochester, NY. He was also a jazz saxophonist and was one of the main people that inspired me to pursue music as a career. In the poem, L'Infinito, the author expresses his frustrations for not exploring more of the world. Papa Joe instilled in me from childhood that your aspirations and dreams are within your grasp if you reach for them and work hard.

ARACHNE (2015)

FOR VIOLIN, SOPRANO SAXOPHONE, AND PIANO

               Arachne is an homage to one of my favorite animals, the spider. Spiders are beautiful creatures that are misunderstood, under-appreciated and are hated by most people. I try to capture different moods of spiders, from building webs and patiently waiting to stalking and attacking a prey. It is also somewhat inspired by the Greek myth of Arachne, who challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving competition and was later transformed into a spider due to her hubris. This piece is written for my cousin Nakeyta who has always been a great supporter of my music.

ELAPSE (2014)

FOR SOPRANO SAXOPHONE, HARP, AND PERCUSSION

               ELAPSE, simply put, is about the passing of time. Sometimes time flows at a glacial speed and at other times it whizzes by, slipping through our fingers. This piece is inspired by hikes and “Photography Excursions” during my time as a student at Interlochen Arts Academy. Interlochen is a place suspended in reality; it lies at an extreme collision between man and nature. In ELAPSE, I try to capture these elements into one cohesive emulsion of these two diametrically opposing forces.

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©2018 by Kameron Sheffield