Kirk O’Riordan

composer | conductor | saxophonist

compositions for solo instruments

Waking Spirits for Solo Percussion (2013) 9’
for Larry Stockton

Score Sample

Audio: (Coming Soon)

Waking Spirits was composed for my friend and colleague Larry Stockton. The piece is heavily influenced by Japanese drumming traditions, and attempts to explore the wide range of timbral variation (and pitch) of the Taiko ensemble.




Four Hypnotic Dances (2014) for Solo Guitar 12’
For Jorge Torres

Score Samples

I. lightly, with energy
II. gentle, flowing; not hurried
III. misterioso, distant
IV. slowly, somewhat agitated

(mvts. II and III, recorded live)

First Performance: September 12, 2012; Laura Oltman, guitar (mvts. II and III only)

Four Hypnotic Dances was composed for my friend and colleague Jorge Torres. The four dances came about after a month or so of intensive self-guided exploration of the guitar. While the first dance was a bit theoretical in its conception (that is, I was reasonably sure it could be played), the other three evolved from improvisations I played on the instrument, many of which developed from me learning pop songs. The fourth dance in particular is derived from the guitar line from Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence,” though the final result bares little resemblance to its origin.




Tangents for Solo Marimba (2011) 7’
For Larry Stockton

Score Sample

Audio: (Coming Soon)

Tangents was composed for Larry Stockton. The work is an exploration of a variety of polymeric gestures, which build over the course of the piece into a wild, chaotic conclusion.




Will o' the Wisp for Solo Flute (2008) 11’
For Reuben Council

Score Sample

Premiere: March 20, 2009. College Music Society Northeast Regional Conference. Reuben Councill, flute

There was in every hollow
A hundred wrymouthed wisps.
—Dafydd ap Gwilym (trans. Wirt Sikes), 1340

The Will-o'-the-wisp has been recorded as flickering over marshy ground since at least the middle ages, as the quote above testifies. In the centuries that followed, dozens of antiquaries have recorded anecdotes and personal accounts of the ignis fatuus, with even Sir Isaac Newton mentioning them in his 1704 opus Opticks.

The phenomenon is also inextricably linked with the leading astray of weary travelers into mires. The light was taken to be a lantern or a torch carried by a mischeivous spirit, as is indeed reflected in the name Will-o'-the-wisp itself, which has an etymology of "William of the wisp [of lighted hay]."




That dream where you're running for Solo Cello (2007) 7’
For Andrew Rammon

Score Sample

Audio: (Coming Soon)




Temptation for Solo Bassoon (1994) 7’
Commissioned by Jeffrey Lyman

Score Sample

This performance is of the earlier version. The 2017 edition has some corrections and updates.

Notes for the 2017 edition:

Temptation was composed in 1994 for Jeffrey Lyman. I was a graduate student at the time, very young in my composition career, and editing this piece twenty-three years later has given me an interesting perspective on what changed in my composing and what has not.
The piece hoped to express those first timid forays into personal exploration: for me, this was about testing the waters as a composer in an attempt to find my voice. I could try different languages or different effects for the sake of trying them, but I often found certain techniques lacking in those qualities I wanted to explore most.
In hindsight, Temptation isn’t so much about the Biblical connotations of being tempted as it is about finding what was truly important to me as a young composer. I have taken great joy in revisiting it for this edition, and I am grateful to Jeffrey Lyman for commissioning it and allowing me to begin this journey; and to Saxton Rose whose support of the piece inspired its current edition.

"[The] idea is very effectively portrayed in this excellent seven-minute work. Simple lyrical material is presented and then developed; cautiously at first and then more adventurously. After being subdued, the material is again explored more ambitiously, eventually even with wild abandon including multiphonics and very fast virtuoso passages, only to end in restraint.”

—Jon Beebe, Appalachian State University The Double Reed Vol. 23 No. 3, 2002

Temptation is on the repertoire list for the 2018 IDRS Gillet-Fox Bassoon Competition.

Scores are available at the following fine retailers:
TrevCo-Varner Music
Forrests Music
Hickey's Music Center


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Lafayette College
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