Modern Music Matinée
Saturday, 9 February 2019 @ 3pm
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Orchestra Hall
Contributed by Ilysia Tan (BMUS2, 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 (2018-19), five student composers at YST worked with Mr. Christoph Wichert, bassoonist with the SSO and woodwind coach for YST’s new music ensemble OpusNovus, to produce new bassoon works. These pieces will be premiered during Modern Music Matinée in the 9th of February 2019 by Mr. Wichert. Below are introductions by the student composers who participated in this opportunities with descriptions of their compositional interests and their new pieces.
Addiction to Progression by Ilysia Tan (BMus2)
there always is competition
whether from within or without.
(what) if (can) you summit progress?
plateau, descend, unearth.
( ) is better?
JinyCons by Lim Chae Hyun (BMus2)
During the second half of the semester, I spent a considerable time pondering the topics of sin, atonement, and rehabilitation. Why am I committing sins and how do I atone for them were the most salient questions. Every moment I try to make the best choices, those choices I make sometimes come back to haunt me as the worst choices I have ever made.
Committing sin yields a sense of guilt, each having a different intensity. I can immediately forget some of them, but some of them remain in my mind for weeks or months. The longer that sense stays with me, the more pain I feel, and I feel that pain because I am a human. My inner voice reacts to the sin, and the sense of guilt seizes me in resignation.
I can relinquish my guilt by acknowledging what I have done, which leads to a confession and a gentle request of forgiveness. This also rehabilitates a person’s wound. However, the remnant of the sin remains between the individual and me. It is impossible to delete the remnant – maybe some day there will be a technology to erase human memories. The remnant of sin constantly hinders interpersonal relationships and distorts my true identity to others. The repetition of these processes accumulates as I live and eventually contaminates my mind.
How to avoid or live free of this cycle of sins? The only way is to expect supernatural power that will relinquish the remnants of sins in a way that a human cannot comprehend at all.
The piece JinyCons is based on the narrative above. The movement of the bassoon in the piece demonstrates the innate limits of a human in committing sins, a struggle to being free from the cycle of sins, and expectation of supernatural power.
The title JinyCons is an abbreviation of Jiny Connections.
Monologue by Tai Yun Ming (BMus1)
Monologue for solo bassoon is representative of an endless struggle in mind which can be heard through repetition of subjects and inconclusive answers. It explores with mainly melody and limits itself to several motifs centering around certain pitches (E, F#, Bb, D#) that are the subjects of the inner conversation. These motifs repeat and correspond to each other like an argument that never resolves. The subjects become more insistent and agitated as they are argued towards the crisis point of the struggling mind. At the end of the piece, the struggles are still present but with less energy. The mind reluctantly comes to a long and lifeless halt at a temporary answer, simply because it needs to rest.
Transformation by Likie Low (BMus1)
Transformations (2018) explores ways to transit between different musical materials. It aims to establish coherence within the composition. In the composition, there are 4 musical materials getting transformed from one to the next by several musical elements. The last musical material gets morphed into nothing via pitch and rhythm. Throughout the piece, the listeners get clear guidance on the change of musical materials.
Besides being an exploration of the transformations between musical materials, the piece reflects on the composer coming into a new place of study and viewing music in a new light. The piece illustrates one’s movement, running form his old life and towards something new and fresh. Although out of her comfort zone, the music portrays the eager and excitement the persona has towards her new life.
However, the rhythmic momentum of the music is interrupted by the legato passage in the middle of the piece, mimicking the slight reminiscence of the persona’s past, and how she misses what that comfort zone. The thought is then broken by a distinct transition to the next section, where the persona is skipping precariously, trying to adapt to her new life without thinking about the past.
Of The Two Cycles by Christopher Sim (BMus2)
Utilising Chinese characters and Vedic numerology, Vrttabhyam, which is Sanskrit for Of the Two Cycles, is a nine-minute piece that realises the concept of cycles in Hindu-Buddhist thinking. The piece has six movements (or chapters), each covering various topics from spirits and animals to self-determination. This piece is about escaping the endless cycle of reincarnation. It is about attaining enlightenment through diligence of supplication and good deeds so that one might realise paradise. As for the construction of this piece, every note is serialised, based off a system I call Musical Calligraphy, where Chinese characters are converted into musical material. Additionally, the placement of notes and selection of most pitches and articulations are not placed arbitrarily, but determined by the strokes of Chinese characters. For instance, a horizonal stroke is a note of B while a diagonal tick is a C-sharp.
I have always been fascinated with linguistics and orthography. To me, combining music with these opens up new realms of composition material. Every language has its rules and lexicon, and I shall continue to dissect and convert these elements into usable musical material.