Category Archives: Collaboration

Death Rides a Horse

Hot on the heels of the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium was the live performance of an original score written by Gracin Dorsey and myself for the spaghetti western classic, Death Rides a Horse. As stated on the film’s Wikipedia entry, the film has landed itself a special place in popular culture, not to mention Quentin Tarantino’s frequent homage paid to it in his Kill Bill series.

With great thanks to a combination of paper-work screw-ups, no doubt originating in some very large legal departments, and divine providence, I’m sure, this entire feature-length film has rather fortuitously fallen into the public domain. Filmusik, always combing the public archives for big-screen jewels to revive and revisit, approached and charged Gracin and I with the daunting task of writing our own original score for the film in place of Ennio Morricone’s. Musicians and singers from the likes of Opera Theater Oregon, Classical Revolution PDX, and the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble were all enlisted to help us pull off what turned out to be an extraordinary experience, with live choral and orchestral music performed live, “in the pit”, beneath the film., based out of Portland, wrote up a review based on the first performance. Northwest Reverb has also posted their own “rave” review of the show. The official trailer for our rendition of the film is currently posted at Filmusik’s website.

I’ve included a sample of the film (the ending!) with a live recording of our own music below. This scene offers a decent taste of what our music for the rest of the film was like. Warning! Because it’s the last scene it may be a real plot spoiler!

Enormous thanks to Galen Huckins, Katie Taylor, Tuesday Rupp, and all musicians involved!




As the director of the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (ECCE), I am thrilled to announce its latest production: ANIMA.

A concert of new compositions and choreography created in collaboration between graduate students of the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon.

Two showings, May 29 and 30th @ 7:30pm in the newly constructed multimedia and rehearsal space in the School of Music, “The Cube” (Rm 190).

Repertoire includes multimedia installations, video projections, electronic music, and a wide variety of chamber music played by live instrumentalists, combined with contemporary choreography, lighting, and production.

FREE ADMISSION is made possible by the generous support of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance.

See you there!!!

Rapture and the Agon

I have now posted a recording my of recently performed piece for flute choir, Rapture and the Agon. You can read more about it and listen to the recording on its own page.

Although this piece isn’t necessarily a typical departure from what might be called “proscenium-style” concert music (in the sense that there is no additional multimedia or performance element) I most certainly consider the work a collaborative effort. Early in 2009 Molly Barth, phenomenal flutist and chair of the flute department at the University of Oregon, began working with Robert Kyr, the chair of the composition department. Their efforts came to fruition via a collaborative pairing of flutists and composers in a concert of new and original music titled “The Oregon Composers Forum: Flute Music for the 21st Century.” 

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to write a piece for nearly the entire flute studio (10 flutes), including 2 piccolos, 5 soprano flutes, 2 alto flutes, and 1 bass flute. It was a welcome and very satisfying experience, and I have all of the flute players in Molly’s studio to thank for coaching me through the process and ultimately giving the piece a public reading on the concert this April.

Having trouble imagining what 10 flutes might sound like? Go give it a listen.

This piece is dedicated to Molly Barth’s flute studio of Spring 2009.



by Dan J. Richards
by Dan J. Richards


I visited Portland this weekend to see a show by the new music ensemble fEARnoMUSIC. The show was titled parallaxis, and was a concert of modern chamber music, each work being combined and presented simultaneously with the work of a collaborative video artist. Great concert. Featured on the program were a smattering of movements from Ligeti’s 2nd string quartet, and a chamber work by one of my previous teachers, Steve Ricks.

I walked away with the profound and reassuring feeling that collaborative art is extremely powerful. While the romantic notion of the  independent artist is certainly still valued, art created and presented collaboratively strengthens one’s sense of community. It may sound somewhat trite, but when working with others, you don’t feel so alone 🙂 While solitude has its virtues, despite what many may claim, the sociality of art is what gives it power. Art is relatively useless in a vacuum, decontextualized and stripped of all the social and aesthetic connotations that make it meaningful in the first place. It might be made to selfishly sooth the artists own soul, but the best things in life are always shared.

Another related practical matter concerning the artists well-being, is that working with others makes you feel needed. It makes you feel valued, an emotionally comforting phenomenon that is welcome to an artist who (like so many often do) is wondering what their own place in the world is, or questioning their own function or use as a creator. I felt this comfort quite deeply as I walked away from a UORDC concert last night where two of my works were performed in conjunction with choreography. Gratitude.

A suggestion: if you are feeling lonely, trapped into an aesthetic dead-end, or emotionally distraught, . . . seek another artist to work with. You’ll make each other feel a lot better about what you do.

Performances, April 17th & 18th


Next weekend, April 17th and 18th, two of my works will be performed as part of the UORDC’s spring concert: The More We Get Together, a collaboration with choreographer Valerie Ifill, and After Hours in The Parlour Room, a collaboration with Alex Taylor.

Come see the work of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance Faculty along with works by the two graduate students mentioned above.

Friday and Saturday, April 17-18, 8 p.m.
Dougherty Dance Theatre
$5 student/senior, $10 general admission