Arizona-born, Florida-raised, and currently San Diego-based, I am a composer of (mostly) acoustic chamber and vocal music, a clarinetist who specializes in new music, and a teacher of music theory and history.
My music, especially my instrumental music, is characterized by a sense of motion and direction generated through layered textures, whether that motion has the forward linear momentum of a car on the highway or the floating and meandering of a feather on the wind. Although it seems somewhat redundant for an artist in a time-dependant medium to say, time, particularly the macro-level time of form and structure, is central to my work.
I find writing for voice particularly exciting, and I tend to choose texts that either explore traditional stories from a new perspective, like my adaptation of the Japanese Orochi legend in The Eighth Daughter, or are unconventional in some way, like my setting of Geoffrey Chaucer's scientific text A Treatise on the Astrolabe. Opera has fascinated me for a long time, and I am interested in exploring ways to condense the spectacle of opera into a personal and intimate experience, perhaps for only a single person listening in their home - this forms the basis of my dissertation project.
Recently I have started thinking about music through the lens of games. Anna Anthropy, an independent game designer, describes games as being at their core nothing more than rules defined through verbs and objects, and while many things could be described in this way, it strikes me that this is a particularly interesting way to think about the acts of composition and performance. My current works in progress begin to address this for myself - thinking in terms of game design about different ways for performers to interact with the objects of the score, how to present the score to engage different forms of interaction, how multiple performers interact with and react to each other, and how the audience contributes to the choices and actions made.
Outside of music, I enjoy all sports, particularly baseball and football, and I am on a (seemingly unending) quest to break 100 in golf. I enjoy reading authors who write with a peculiar or fantastical sense of time and watching all manner of science fiction. I love dogs, and my little 25-pound terrier mix Lily is a source of endless joy. I have developed an interest in Japanese language and culture, particularly Japanese storytelling and folk tales, that can be traced to my encounters with the 2005 video game Ōkami; I have been studying Japanese for over two years.
I currently live in Lakeside, California, just outside of San Diego, with my wife, Brooke, and my daughter, Amelia.
Univ. of California, San Diego
University of Illinois (MM, 2009)
University of Florida (BM, 2007)
James Paul Sain