for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion and piano

Written: 2014
Duration: ca. 12'
Instrumentation: flute (doubling piccolo and blender), B-flat clarinet (doubling B-flat bass clarinet and blender). violin (doubling coffee grinder), cello, percussion (see Percussion Instrumentation below) and piano
Percussion Instrumentation: vibraphone, crotales (high and low octaves), orchestra bells, concert bass drum, kick bass drum, 4 tom toms, large tam  tam, medium suspended cymbal, medium sizzle cymbal, large china cymbal, 2 one-handed slapsticks, kitchen sink basin, metal kitchen grater, 5 graduated cast-iron frying pans, 3 stainless steel mixing bowls, 3 Pyrex storage round dish glass bowls, 2 wooden serving spoons, 2 balloon-shaped metal wire whisks, misc. mallets, bows and beaters. See score for kitchen appliance and instrument specifications.
Commissioned by The Utah Arts Festival as the result of winning the 2014 Utah Arts Festival Chamber Ensemble Composer Commission Competition
World Premiere: Vertigo Ensemble, Utah Arts Festival, June 28, 2014.
Other Performances: American Modern Ensemble, Mostly Modern Festival, Atlantic Music Festival New Music Ensemble, Syracuse Society for Contemporary Music
PublisherBill Holab Music
View Score | Buy Sheet Music | Buy Kitchen Items
Kitchen Items Also Available for Rent from Publisher


After having written several works with references to apparitions and the underworld (Ghost Theater and Closet Full of Demons, for example), I realized that inspiration for a third work in this gruesome series exists right here in my own backyard: Hell’s Kitchen, my neighborhood in New York City.

Several competing legends attempt to explain how Hell’s Kitchen acquired its gritty, colorful name, but there’s no dispute as to why. From the mid-1800s to the 1980s, it was was known for its tenement buildings, streetwalkers and speakeasies, slaughterhouses, deeply violent gangs, gruesome murders, mysterious disappearances and even ghosts. Today, realtors and some non-natives call it Clinton or Midtown West, and it is known for its Off Broadway theaters, an abundance of chic restaurants, luxury condominium towers and even as the name of a reality TV cooking competition show. However, locals still steadfastly call it Hell’s Kitchen, and are proud that the neighborhood has become a veritable culinary and cultural melting pot.

In Hell’s Kitchen, I use the imaginary sounds of a fast-paced restaurant kitchen in hell as a point of departure, complete with loud, grinding effects produced by musical instruments and the sounds of kitchen tools and appliances. The percussionist plays a central role, using a metal grater like a güiro (an effect suggested to me by my son Dylan while walking down 9th Avenue) and uses wooden spoons like drumsticks on pots and pans, while other players are called upon to use kitchen gadgets and appliances for percussive effect. The entire work is meant to give the feeling of being in the middle of a kitchen in hell.

Press Quotes

Hell’s Kitchen evokes the frenetic rush that ensues during the 30 minutes before the guests arrive for a dinner party. In addition to acoustic instruments, the work calls for blenders, coffee grinder, cheese grater, wooden spoons, and Pyrex and metal bowls. Conductor Pablo Devigo led [the CIM New Music Ensemble in] a tight performance of the fun work. Percussionist Hector Flores outdid himself playing precise rhythms on everything he could shake a stick at, including the kitchen sink.
— Mike Telin, ClevelandClassical.com
...included everything AND a kitchen sink (ripped from its frame and hanging over the marimba). Methodically and with not a little gleeful intensity, the group made their way through a chuffing steam-train theme, a lively chase scene and horror-stricken tritones punctuated by brief moments of relatively less unease.
— New York Music Daily