Regional Currents


Sounding Now 2018
A Festival of Contemporary Musical Practices: Regional Currents

Sunday, 22 April 2018 @ 3pm
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Orchestra Hall

Patangis-Buwaya ( …crocodile weeps…) (2003) by Jonas Baes        

Patangis-Buwaya is a unique work in that from the time of its premiere in Japan in 2003,  had gone through various protean manifestations, through various social, cultural and even political contexts in different parts of the world. If musical pieces acquire their identities in the form of a notation, this would not be so with Patangis-Buwaya.  The score consists of just one page of verbal instructions and a diagram, proposing how four performers on low wind instruments should alternate between a regular pattern of sound and silence (for one minute) and free improvisation (again for one minute), through seven cycles defined by different kinds of sound. Much of the detail has to be worked out collaboratively by the musicians, in consultation not only with the score but also with the recordings through which an oral tradition is being developed, not within a small community but globally, through the experience of performances in Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur, Budapest and Ho Chi Minh City, Makassar or Freiburg, among others (all to be found on YouTube). This changes things for the performers and, the audience, as well. We are no longer receivers of a work but witnesses of a performance, a performance in which we may even be invited to participate. And though we might feel we know from John Cage all about undermining the finished work, Baes will perhaps quietly and gently unsettle us a little more in allowing, through this music, unheard voices to express themselves.

 These voices come on one level from the Iraya-Mangyan people of the island of Mindoro, which is divided by a strait from the main island of the Philippines. Having worked with this population and collected some of their songs, Baes was moved by how their land was being taken from them by mining and military operations. He resolved to do something – not to adapt their music, which would be claiming their territory by other means, but rather in some measure to adopt their mentality, to create something between rain forest and concert hall, something, indeed, that could be performed by musicians of nonwestern cultures on their own instruments (as happened in Vietnam, Yogyakarta or Makassar). The result is not a message but an opening.

 Alitawu, the great hero of Iraya-Mangyan epic, had his wife abducted and killed by his great enemy. Setting off to revenge the crime, he called his dog to him by playing on his flute “a sound to make even the crocodiles weep” – that is, in the Iraya-Mangyan language, patangis-buwaya.

Jonas Baes: composer, ethnomusicologist, cultural activist studied at the University of the Philippines [under Jose Maceda and Ramon Santos] and at the Musikhochschule Freiburg in Germany [under Mathias Spahlinger]. Writings about marginality and the sociology of music among indigenous peoples like the Iraya-Mangyan are published in international academic and refereed journals. His music compositions for traditional Asian instruments and vocal techniques, also explore the aesthetization of philosophies and social theories; these works have been performed in various international festivals in Asia, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Baes has been invited as guest professor in the United States, Malaysia, Japan and Germany. He is professor at the University of the Philippines.

Insights (2009) by Nick Omiccioli     

Insights (2009) for solo bassoon is the first in a series of solo pieces that explore extended instrumental techniques such as multiphonics, quarter tones, timbral trills, and improvisation. The initial concept for the collection, inspired by the Sequenzas of Luciano Berio, began as a collaboration between composer and performer and aimed to show off the versatility and virtuosity of the musician. Insights was commissioned in 2008 by James Keel Williams, a fellow classmate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Nick Omiccioli (b.1982) is a metalhead in a classical musician’s world. His music spans multiple styles and genres and is infused with visceral musical gestures, driving rhythms, animated textures, melodic hooks, expressive lines, improvisation, and a keen attention to timbre. The motivation behind his work comes from a passion to create that originated from his roots playing electric guitar and an early interest in illustration. His artistic background brings a singular craft to his work that is both introspective and evocative.

Nick’s music has been performed across the globe by many of the leading ensembles of today such as Alarm Will Sound, Nu Deco Ensemble, The Berkeley Symphony, the Jasper String Quartet, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, l’Orchestre de la francophonie, Ensemble Paramirabo, and Ensemble Échappé. In addition to being regularly commissioned and having been awarded many national and international honors, Nick has received residencies at Copland House, Willapa Bay AiR, and was a finalist for the Rome Prize. Nick is currently assistant professor of composition studies at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore.

Suite from Pursuant (2013) by Chen Zhangyi
i. Prelude to Train Scene, Dream Scan

ii. Welcome to Your Future

This work originates from Pursuant, a musical commissioned by the Singapore Lyric Opera and was produced in 2013. Based on the original story and lyrics by Jonathan Lim, the 1984-inspired dystopian story is “set in the year 2023, in a familiar country called SingaCorp. Pursuant is an original musical that traces the adventures of young Ethan, a secondary school boy with an unstoppable capacity for dreaming. The only problem is – dreaming is illegal, and dreamers are arrested and sent for treatment!” – (Singapore Lyric Opera) The instrumental suite for woodwind quintet was written for the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival.

In the ‘Train Scene, Dream Scan’ the MRT stops (or breaks down) abruptly, and the Dream Squad rushes in to scan the minds of the passengers for any illegal thoughts. ‘Welcome to Your Future’ features the music of the party held at the ominous skyscraper and organisation with a fictitious name of a massively long acronym – MCYSICEA (Ministry for Community, Youth, Sports, Information, Communication, Environment, and the Arts).

Chen Zhangyi: The music of Chen Zhangyi has been described by BBC Radio 3 as “music from a voice of the future” and by Straits Times as “a breath of fresh air on our musical landscape.” He has collaborated with ensembles such as London Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Lyric Opera, Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Singapore National Youth Orchestra.

His dramatic works such as Laksa Cantata and Window Shopping seek to explore the musical representation of local urbanism, vernacular language and culture. In his orchestral works, nature is often a source of inspiration, such as Rain Tree, and ‘of an ethereal symphony’ commissioned by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra for their 2016 Europe tour. In 2014, he was conferred the Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council (Singapore).

Zhangyi currently serves as Assistant Professor of Composition Studies and Contemporary Music performance at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, where he also leads the new music ensemble OpusNovus.

Endless echo from the ancient land (2014) by Chong Kee Yong

During my artist residency at the Civitella Ranieri (Umbertide, Italy) in July 2014, after listening to an ancient Shakuhachi piece “Jimbo-Sanya” played by my friend Yoshida Koichi at the concert of the Inspiratum Festival “Per-Form the Void” in Kanaal (Belgium), I was deeply moved by this ancient piece and decided to mix a fragment of it with the daily soundscape environment of my Civitella Ranieri residency as materials for this work.

In this work, I would like to thank Yoshida Koichi, Valerio Fasoli, Tayeba Begum Lipi, Sergio de Regules, Eric Wubbels and Alexendre Lunsqui for being the inspiration of this piece!

Dr. Chong Kee Yong, one of Malaysia’s leading contemporary music composers, possesses one of the most exciting voices in new music today. Indeed, his work has been hailed as “imaginative and poetic” by leading conductor-composer Peter Eötvös, and as “very inventive and artistically pure” by composer Jonathan Harvey. The uniqueness of his music stems not only from a rich palette of sounds, but his experimentation into traditions, infusing his own Chinese and multi-cultural Malaysian heritage into his work.

Dr. Chong’s distinctive style has won him many awards and commissions; His list of prizes is remarkable, as Prix Marcel Hastir, 2nd Seoul International Competition, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra International Composers’ Award, Lutoslawski Award, BMW Award of Isang Yun Music Prize, the commission grant award by the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation, “The Outstanding Young Malaysian Award” and many other.

He has been awarded the composer-in-residency with Akademie der Künste (Germany), Herrenhaus Edenkoben (Germany), Asian Cultural Council (USA), the Center Henri Pousseur (Belgium), SWR EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO (Germany), Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship 2014 (USA/Italy), Korea National Gugak Center fellowship, IGNM-VS / Forum Wallis in Leuk Switzerland and spring workshop Hong Kong.

To recognize Dr. Chong’s contributions to South East Asia’s contemporary music scene, Huddersfield University (UK) awarded him a full scholarship for PhD by publication 2014-2016 under the guidance of Prof. Liza Lim.

Dr. Chong is the creative director of Studio C, president of Society of Malaysian Contemporary Composers (2017-2019) and was the artistic director of the 2009 Kuala Lumpur Contemporary Music Festival and SMCC Contemporary Music Festival “SoundBridge” 2013, 2015 and 2017. 2016-2017 he was visiting professor of Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Equatorial Rainforest (2016) by Yii Kah Hoe

Equator is the line of zero degrees latitude and it’s the longest latitude on Earth. Regions near Equator have tropical rainforest, which has no four seasons and typhoon. The sunlight is abundant and strong, as the weather is warm for long term and the rainfall is adequate, flora can grow well and become evergreen. The weather makes the rainforest to become the ecosystem on Earth.

You can enjoy the gift from tropical rainforest such as coffee, chocolate, banana, mango, papaya, avocado, sugar cane and etc, and also the leaves and grasses that dance in the wind. At the same time, do not forget the music from Equatorial Rainforest.

This piece is composed after Equator Rainforest for Ruan Quintet. Sharing the same title, and keep some motives from it.

Yii Kah Hoe is a Malaysian composer and Chinese dizi and xiao improviser. Yii was the winner of 11th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards (Malaysia, 2014), the winner of Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra Forum for Malaysian Composers (Malaysia, 2007), the 3rd Prize in the International Composition for Chinese Orchestra (Singapore 2006), the finalist of International Composers Competition “Città di Udine” (Italy, 2010).

Yii has been recognized as one of the major voices among Southeast Asian composers of his generation. His music has been widely performed in Asia, America, and Europe by ensembles such as Ensemble Mosaik, Interensemble, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, The Claremont Concert Choir, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Birmingham Symphonic Winds, Pan-Pacific Ensemble and musicians such as Peter Veale, Christopher Redgate, Moritz Ernst, Jürg Henneberger, Maruta Staravoitava, Anne Harley, Luisa Sello, Duplum Duo and etc.

Yii’s music is perceived as bold and avant-garde. His works use sounds and rhythms of many traditional instruments from various ethnic cultures. The sensitivity of space that Yii mastered as an artist (Fine art) in his younger years is also evident in his music.

In the fall of 2015, Yii was the Scripps Erma Taylor O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professor at Scripps College in Claremont. Yii engaged in music education and the organization of a contemporary music collective, concerts and a festival in Kuala Lumpur, contributing intellectually and socially in the field. Yii was the festival director of Kuala Lumpur Contemporary Music Festival 2009, the festival director of SoundBridge festival 2013, the president of Society of Malaysian Contemporary Composers (2014 – 2016) and a senior lecturer at SEGi College Subang Jaya, Malaysia since 2000.

Categories Compositions, Events

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