Butterfly Wings - Listen - Look - for solo flute

Written for a friend's collection of nature inspired pieces. One winter day I heard a story about challenges Monarch butterflies were facing. I remembered the joy butterflies bring when you come across one and I imagined the majesty of thousands of them migrating so many miles. My favorite part of the piece is that the rests and breaths a player takes has to be just as musical as the played notes. Every little detail, every wing fluttered, is part of the journey.

Reflection of the Light - Listen - Look - for solo piano

I saw colors of light gently moving accross the wall. The sun was shining and a suncatcher was gently twirling on the porch sending colorful rays through the window. It put me in a reflective state as I sat to compose this piece.


The Strings - Listen - Look - duet for 2 double basses

This duet has 4 movements and each movement is played on a single string. The G string is ritualistic with a steady stream of fast notes. The D string is influenced by jazz and latin styles. The A string, a meditation in catacombs. The E string is a bit funky.

Sometimes You Can't Go Back - Listen - Look - for flute and piano

Based off of my solo flute piece Three Statements for Flute, I expanded on ideas and added a quirky piano part. As the title says, sometimes we can't go back and fix things done or said. Throughout the piece I bounced around from emotion to emotion, frustration, anger, sadness, guilt and even hope. I like to think that time can heal.

Duet for Guitar and Bass - Listen - Look - for guitar and double bass

Written for a church service, I was thinking that the congregation is a collection of individuals coming from the "world", some with a good week and some with a bad one. I knew some of the members liked standards so I tried to bring it all together one morning.

Trying to Keep It Together - Listen - Look - for trumpet, double bass and piano

I often like to put two different emotions together when composing. It adds interest, drama and reflects how I see the world. In this piece I have slow and fast, one section that sounds like a funeral and another ecstatic, pounding of the piano and notes that are as cool as a cat. With so many things happening in life, sometimes the best we can do is try to keep it together.

We're Running Out of Time - Listen - Look - trio for flute, cello and double bass

Somewhere around 2013 I heard a news story about a bombing in Syria followed by a story of climate change followed by a beat-boxing flautist. I felt like as a society we had to do something. The flautist inspired me to think outside the box with my writing and I believe, for the better, my world view was affected, too.

Going for Glory - Listen - Look - for string quintet (2 vn, va, ce, db)

When I was younger I competed in a canoe race. Half way through my arms were aching. In order to keep pace I started to sing to myself. I also remember a character on my left saying, "Keep going. You can do it!" And, I remember a character on my right saying, "Just stop. Wouldn't it feel great to stop." This piece is the struggle between those two characters and the melody that kept me going.

Winter Crickets: 5 vignettes of Mt. Hope - Listen - Look - for string quintet

I was walking through Mt. Hope Cemetery (Rochester, NY) on a winter day with a couple inches of new snow. The only other living thing was a pair of squirrels. I reflected on the stillness, the "acientness." The only sound I heard was my breath.

Celebrations and Having Fun - Listen - Look - for string quintet

Thinking of home, growing up with fiddle music. It wouldn't be a Polenik family wedding without a Polka or two.

Rise and Fall - Listen - Look - for string quintet

What goes up must come down and so does this melody. After fiddle music in the string quartet genre hit its peak, I started looking to other genres like the EDM world and Hip Hop. I also started to compose in ways that tried to mimic the studio effects those genres were using like delay. Rise and Fall was the first try and Going for Glory the second.

Waiting in Line, There are 12 People Ahead of Me - Listen - Look - string quintet

I needed patience one day. I thought about how a lot of people don't have patience for 12-tone music. I wrote a piece about needing patience using a 12-tone scale.

Suite Antiqua - Listen - Look - for oboe, clarinet, guitar, violin and bass

This piece takes older musical sounds and pairs it with newer phrasing, interval spacing and virtuosity. Each movement features opposites that balance each other out: Urban and Rural, Love and Hate, The tortoise and the hare.

Skyward, Calling Earth - Listen - Look - for ob, bs, vib, va and db

Imagine a cartoon about returning intergalactic astronauts. There's a parade and tales of their adventures. We've always been explorers. The only thing that changes is our reach. After Mars, where will we go next?

Road Trip - Listen - Look - for orchestra

This will eventually be the 2nd or 3rd movement to my first symphony, titled "Nostalgic." I remember road trips growing up, hearing about road trips and watching movies about road trips. This piece reflects some of the energy from that coming of age event. I'm not sure whether the piece is from the child's or the parents' point of view. Either way it ends with "sweet dreams" and "sleep tights."


Spring Thaw - Listen - Look - for SATB and optional piano

I love summertime and the warmer weather. The fresh air breeze that carresses your cheek and lets you know that summer is on its way brings green leaves, blue skies and my favorite, fresh berries and cherries. One winter day I needed to remember those things so I wrote this piece. It was almost a spiritual experience.

And On the Third Day He Arose! - Listen - Look - for SATB

One Easter, after coming home from a church gig, I decided to write a choir piece of my own. I wanted it to tell a story, in dramatic fashion, while using the vocal parts and text as a rhythmic accompanient.