I grew up in Western Massachusetts, playing in rock bands and pretending to study classical piano. At Harvard, I studied composition with Milton Babbitt, Leon Kirchner, and Bernard Rands. After graduating, I received a Rhodes Scholarship to do graduate work in philosophy at Oxford University; but spent most of my time learning to play jazz piano. In 1997, I entered the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley, where my teachers included Jorge Liderman, Olly Wilson, John Thow, and Edmund Campion. I received my Ph.D. in 2002.
My interests, as both composer and theorist, involve a few basic, and somewhat idiosyncratic, convictions. First, I think that the tonal system, rather than dying a sudden death around 1911, has continued to evolve over the last 100 years, in both the "classical" and "popular" traditions. As a theorist, I am interested in exploring the evolution. (I am especially fascinated by the various connections between the worlds of jazz and classical music.) As a composer, I am trying to participate in it, writing music that I hope is both tonal and modern. A second conviction is that musicians tend to make too much out of differences between genres. I like to think of myself as participating in a culture that includes not just contemporary concert music, but also popular music, jazz, folk music, classical music, and pretty much everything else. In particular, I hope to make a concerted effort to try to think about what I am doing, not just from the vantage of contemporary academic art, but from a more general perspective that (hopefully) encompasses fundamental human values. A third (and perhaps more prosaic) conviction is that technology is fundamentally changing the nature of music, not just by providing us with new sounds, but also by providing us with new ways of thinking in and about music. I am very interested in computer-assisted composition, analysis, improvisation, and the interactions between these.