Valencia’s City Lights

In high school I had a choice of learning a minimum of two years of either Spanish or French. Believing French to be more difficult, I opted for Spanish and stuck with it for four years. Little did I know that twenty years later I would find myself in beautiful Valencia, Spain struggling to remember any of what I had… Read more →

Inner Truth and Beyond

Just a quick note of thanks to pianist Daniel Pesca for his fantastic premiere of my new piano work, Inner Truth, last night at PianoForte Chicago. Daniel played with confidence through the work’s intricate passagework and brought a careful attention to detail and color throughout the more introspective opening passages. It was a pleasure to work with him, and I… Read more →

Inner Truth in Chicago

Tonight I am in Chicago for the premiere of my new solo piano work, Inner Truth, by the wonderful pianist, Daniel Pesca, Artist-in-Residence and Director of Chamber Music at the University of Chicago.  Inner Truth came about as part of a larger commissioning project honoring the 2017 centennial birth year of the great Korean composer Isang Yun by the fantastic pianist, Eunmi… Read more →

Heisser Sommer

The term has come to a close; final exams are over; honors projects performed; grades submitted. All this must mean one thing: summer 2018 has begun! My musical season starts with a personal and professional highlight. I will be travelling to New York to receive the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. What an honor… Read more →

Robert Beaser in HK

It was a pleasure to welcome composer Robert Beaser to HKBU. Beaser is in Hong Kong as the Distinguished Guest Composer of the Intimacy of Creativity, organized by composer Bright Sheng and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I was so glad Bob was able to make the time to speak with our students about his approach to… Read more →

They Say at USF

I am writing while en route to Tampa, Florida, where I’m headed to the premiere of my new solo guitar work, They Say, as one of four invited composers for the University of South Florida’s New Music Festival. More than most instruments, I have always felt the guitar is an instrument for storytelling, especially of very old tales. This concept… Read more →

UIC Lecture

I want to thank Professors Ruth Rosenberg and Marc Mellits for hosting my recent guest composer lecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It was a pleasure to meet such inquisitive students at UIC and answer their questions about music, language, politics, and so many other subjects.   Farewell, Chicago, and next stop…Florida! Read more →

Charles Ives Fellowship

I am deeply honored to have been selected to receive the 2018 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This award was established by the Academy with funds from the royalties of composer Charles Ives’ work by his widow, Harmony Ives, and—according to the letter I received—is “awarded annually to two composers of exceptional gifts.” How… Read more →

Albany CD

I am very pleased to share news of an upcoming recording project. This summer, following my residency at Copland House, I will record my first portrait CD for Albany Records. The album, Sandburg Songs, will be named for my large-scale song cycle, which was commissioned by the soundSCAPE Festival in Italy and premiered by soprano Tony Arnold and conductor Tim… Read more →

Copland House Residency Award

I’m happy to share news of my selection for a Copland House Residency Award for 2017-18.  This is a great honor, which will allow me to live and work at the former home of composer Aaron Copland, in Cortlandt, New York, in summer 2018. Every artist colony and fellowship has its own atmosphere, customs, and charm, and I’ve had the… Read more →

Creative Spaces

I enjoyed reading Kate Guadagnino’s recent article in the New York Times Magazine, “The Rooms Where Writers Work.”  As the title implies, it’s a look at the physical spaces where writers do their writing, what I would consider the literal “creative space.”  While it only provides profiles of writers, the article’s concerns could just as easily be applied to the… Read more →

With age comes…

I enjoyed reading this almost-year-old but always timely article by Aaron Gervais on newmusicbox about the joys and struggles of the composer’s ageing process.  We’re not talking about the post-retirement ageing process and 4pm dinners at Denny’s that come with it, but rather the dreaded move from a composer’s twenties to a composer’s  thirties and then to….Well, we were never… Read more →


I’m taking a moment from Hong Kong’s summer heat and Typhoon Merbok to report on a few things since the last post.  First, I had a lovely time presenting my music at Taipei National University of the Arts.  This was my first time in Taiwan, and although it was brief, I got a sense of some of the charms of… Read more →

Taipei 101

Very happy to be spending some time in Taipei.  This is my first time in the city and first time in Taiwan as well.  It is a place that has been calling me for many years by way of friends and stories of bubble tea and night markets. But, alas, I am here to work!  Tomorrow I will be presenting… Read more →


I have just received a video of the performance portion of my February 3 lecture at HKBU.  I very much enjoyed sharing some of my music and ways of thinking about music with my colleagues and students.  Special thanks again to violinist Gary Ngan and pianist Kawai Chan for their wonderful playing.  Here is their performance of my 2003 work,… Read more →

Sandburg at Penn

New music lovers in the Philadelphia area should mark their calendars for an upcoming performance by soprano Jamie Jordan and pianist Steven Beck at the University of Pennsylvania on February 22.  Jamie and Steve are among the best in the business, and I’m so glad they’ll be presenting a selection of my Sandburg Songs at Penn.  This will be the… Read more →

HKBU Lecture-Recital

I enjoyed introducing my music to students and colleagues during my lecture recital at Hong Kong Baptist University on Friday.  Part of our weekly colloquium series, the lecture recital featured performances of two older works of mine.  immaus, for solo violin, was performed with passion and sensitivity by violinist Gary Ngan.  It’s been great to hear so many unique interpretations… Read more →

MacDowell Residency

I’m honored to have been awarded a residency at MacDowell Colony.  MacDowell is the oldest artist colony in the US and carries a storied history of artists (Bernstein and Copland are among its many famous composer fellows.) having created while in residence there.  Like other fellowships I’ve received–including Yaddo and Camargo–MacDowell affords artists a priceless gift: a contemplative, distraction-free place… Read more →

Bright Lights, Big City

I’m delighted to share the news that I have accepted a tenure-track position of Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at Hong Kong Baptist University.  In this role I will teach composition and related courses to a group of talented young composers and musicians. I visited Hong Kong as a presenter at the Annual Conference of the Asian Studies… Read more →

soundSCAPE in Review

The 2016 soundSCAPE Festival has come to a close, and my ears are buzzing with the sounds of two weeks of intense music making and teaching.  Of course the highlight for me was last night’s premiere of my complete Sandburg Songs, a five-movement song cycle for soprano and seven instruments with texts from Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems.  Selections from the… Read more →

Oberlin Notes

It was wonderful to hear soprano Sage DeAgro-Ruopp and the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble perform a selection of four of my Sandburg Songs at Oberlin Conservatory on May 4.  Under the direction of Tim Weiss, these young musicians gave a confident account that emphasized the music’s coloristic and rhythmic shifts.  Sage handled the vocal part with ease.  Her precise pitch and… Read more →

Oberlin Webcast

For those who cannot make it to the performance of my Sandburg Songs tonight at Oberlin Conservatory, I’m happy to report that there will be a live webcast streaming here at 8pm EST.  The concert also includes works by Christopher Dietz, Christopher Stark, and Thea Musgrave. Read more →

Celebrations Recording Release

I’m happy to share the news of the release of a CD recording of my work, Celebrations, for 18-string kayagŭm, on Jung Gil Seon’s Gayageum Creative Works Series VII: “Sanjo & Sanjo.”  This work was premiered at the National Gugak Center, Korea’s national center for traditional performing arts in Seoul, by Jung Gil Seon in 2013.  The CD also includes works by Donald… Read more →

Sandburg at Oberlin

I’ve updated the events page to include the premiere of my complete Sandburg Songs, which will take place Wednesday, May 4 at 8pm at Warner Concert Hall at Oberlin Conservatory.  The performance by Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble and a soprano TBA will be led by Tim Weiss.  (Tim will also lead the Italian premiere of the complete Sandburg Songs this… Read more →

Brush Creek Residency

2016 is shaping up to be a busy year.  In addition to my residency at Willapa Bay AiR and teaching at the soundSCAPE Festival in Italy, I am happy to share the news that I will also be in residence at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts.  I’m very excited to set foot in the state of Wyoming for… Read more →