Homebody Rags (2020)
Commissioned by the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music
Premiered June 25, 2020
Molly Morkoski, piano
Homebody Rags was written during May 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. To my surprise, I found creativity and inspiration during this time of isolation, remaining stagnant in the cramped spaces of my apartment in Houston—self-quarantine provided a remarkably good environment to listen closely, to discover obscure artists and explore novel sounds.
Molly Morkoski, the commissioner of this piece, collaborated with me in the past year on my song cycle. The song cycle was inspired heavily by tunes in the cabaret style, and Molly was extremely generous to find an opportunity to collaborate on a set of ragtime pieces for solo piano. This process was one of the most enjoyable, allowing me to find personality unique to mine in an unfamiliar genre.
The piece includes three movements—fast, slow, and fast. Each conveys different moods and takes liberties with what is conventionally thought of as “ragtime”, but keeps the playful attitude that is hallmark to its sound. The piece should be played without restriction; the performer should feel free to improvise, adding extra rubatos, ritardandos, and dynamics at his or her will. Small ornaments such as these are always welcome in this style of early jazz.
– Nicky Sohn