Modern Music Matinée
Saturday, 10 February 2018 @ 3pm
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Orchestra Hall
Contributed by Lim Chae Hyun (BMUS1, YST)
Every semester, the composition department of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YST) organizes a composition opportunity called ‘Expert Interpreter’. This opportunity allows composition students to write pieces for a professional musician with passion for contemporary music. In Semester 1 of this academic year (2017-18), four student composers at YST worked with Ms. Jung-A Yoon, the piano coach for YST’s new music ensemble OpusNovus, to produce new piano works. These pieces will be premiered during Modern Music Matinée in the 10th of February 2018 by Ms. Yoon. Below are introductions by the student composers who participated in this opportunities with descriptions of their compositional interests and their new pieces.
SubCons by Lim Chae Hyun (BMus1)
I started learning about music as I touched piano keys when I was four. I also learned to play violin and drum kit as a youngster. I always had a great interest in music writing and arranging, and started writing my own music when I was 17. I’ve been passionate working on contemporary music for the past three years, and I am trying to connect my works with my surrounding life. My music is not formed with great stories or motives, but I want to elaborate what I see, hear, and feel in every 24 hours, every day, through the medium of music.
“SubCons”, an abbreviation of “Substantializing Connections”, is my observation of how people construct relationships. As an international student who came from thousands of miles away from Singapore, I was interested in observing how such different qualities of people get along together, develop friendships, or even develop intimate relationships. In the process of building connections, we have to get to know each other more and shape ourselves to be more attractive and friendly to others. Two mutually isolated materials in my piece keep evolving, and they transform to make an harmonious and homogeneous quality. The piece demonstrates the nature of an interpersonal relationship that also involves occasional conflict and resolution.
Drive by Ilysia Tan (BMus1)
My previous musical experience is mainly in non-classical music. I composed using a digital audio workstation and my previous composition teacher is specialized in electronic music compositions and audio engineering. This is my first year composing contemporary art music. I am currently interested in exploring timbral synthesis and blending.
Drive is a short work for solo piano. It explores resonance using the different pedals of the piano and how these pedals affect the sustain and decay of certain notes. The pianist’s constant maneuvering of the specific pedal markings can be associated with the clutch, brake and acceleration pedals of a car. The constant movement/drive starts off with a single middle C pitch. The use of different fingerings while playing the same patterns reveals the different micro-timbres of sound that are possible while still playing the same pitches and patterns. The various use of pedals creates different resonances of the piano which form unique sensations of space. In the beginning, “C” struggles to break away from its own nature. “C” keeps pushing against the pitch boundaries set until he manages to find more freedom in movement but is soon re-captured and caged up within those boundaries. Anger rises and he loses his drive as he tries and tries again to break away but still fails at the end.
Phantoms by Kong Tze Shiuan (BMus1)
I am a first-year composition student currently studying in YST under the tutelage of A/P Ho Chee Kong. Previously, I studied music in the Music Elective Programme for both my ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels, majoring in Composition for my ‘A’ Level examinations. I attained my DipABSRM in Piano Teaching in 2017, and also hold an ABRSM Grade 8 in Piano performance. Aside from composing and playing the piano, I am also proficient in the guitar, having been part of guitar ensembles during my time in secondary school and junior college.
Recently, I have been interested in a wide variety of postmodern compositional styles and composers – such as the pointillism in Webern’s works, micropolyphony in Ligeti’s compositions and fusion of western and eastern materials in Isang Yun’s music. More specifically, I enjoy writing music that conveys underlying messages – be it personal feelings or statements about the socio-political state of the world that I feel strongly about.
In my work, Phantoms for solo piano, I explore the use of pitch and harmony as a driving force for the piece. The word phantom refers to an individual who is reclusive and refrains from engaging in a social activity. Starting with a motivic cell consisting of minor second interval and a subsequent leap, I build on these intervals and derive my motifs from there. The minor second interval represents internal stress and turmoil, while the leap is a depiction of emptiness. This is reinforced with the constant melodic and harmonic use of tritones and clashing 7th intervals throughout my work.
Things of Things by Joey Tan (BMus2)
I picked up the piano when I was 6 and the clarinet when I was 13, but only started composing when I was 18, as part of my A levels. For the past two years, I have been studying composition in YST, where I have had the chance to learn from inspiring, experienced teachers and to work with professional musicians and ensembles proficient in the performance of new music. Besides my interest in composition, I dance ballet pre-professionally, and my goal is to one day create works which bring together my love for both music and dance. But for the moment, in my music, I am interested in exploring sound and gesture.
Last semester, I had the privilege of working with Ms. Yoon to create a solo piano piece. With her valuable insight into the contemporary piano repertoire and feedback on my writing, I composed Things of Things, which is about giving meaning to inherently meaningless things. This meaning is realized by means of gesture. In this piece, randomly generated notes are pieced together in various ways to form different lines and shapes – different gestures. At the start of the piece, every note is a “thing” – an entity, which exists as itself. As the piece progresses, notes slowly start to coalesce in different ways, forming new entities out of smaller ones. Hence, the piece is titled Things of Things.