percussion quartet


10 minutes

Commissioned by/Premiere

Ode to Joy was premièred on October 1 and 3, 2023 at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, NY and performed by Sandbox Percussion. The European première took place on October 22 and 23, 2023 in Rome, Italy, and was performed by Blow Up Percussion.

Commissioned by Sandbox Percussion, Blow Up Percussion, and the Park Avenue Armory, with additional funds provided by Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting.


Rental inquiry form

This score will be available in October 2024.



Ode to Joy is my sixth composition to feature a percussion quartet, but my first for a solely acoustic quartet (the other pieces featured piano solo, voice solo, or electronics). It was written at the behest of my good friends Sandbox Percussion, based in Brooklyn, NY, who asked for a relatively short, relatively simple piece in terms of instrumentation that they could take on tour without a soloist or sound system.

To that end, I endeavored to use a maximum number of traditional percussion instruments—vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, crotales—while limiting the “special” instruments to those that can be carried in a small bag or suitcase.

Six is a lot of percussion quartets. When surveying the prior five, I found a relatively wide range of emotions: from contemplative to dramatic to mysterious to elegiac. But one felt missing: joy. This composition—through its use of simple, optimistic harmonies and pulsating rhythms—seeks to remedy that. Its title playfully references the iconic Beethoven tune, but the source is one of America’s, and one of New York City’s, great joy-havers: the poet Frank O’Hara. His poem of the same name iterates an enthusiastic passion for the city I have long called home—a passion I felt more urgently while living in Europe on a residency.

One more thing about joy: Joy is hard. It’s much easier to feel anger, sadness, or nothing. That hardness is part of the piece. While writing, I set these harmonicas in unison against bowed crotales and vibraphones. Despite the best efforts of these excellent musicians, none of these instruments will ever sound entirely in tune with one another. These imperfections, these distances between the joys I have in my life and the joys I aspire toward, are something I have come to embrace.

Ode to Joy is jointly dedicated to Sandbox Percussion and to Blow Up Percussion, a group from Rome who have been wonderful champions of my music in Italy and beyond and who co-commissioned the work. The work was created with the support of a residency from the Stiftung Laurenz-Haus in Basel, Switzerland.