Regional Currents

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Regional Currents
Sunday, 14 April 2019 @ 3:00pm
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Orchestra Hall


Song of Joy

“Song of Joy” is one of the eight notable tunes of Jiangnan Sizhu. As the name suggests, the piece is lively, joyful, and has a flowing melody that increases in speed from the beginning. It was often featured in celebrations, and represented how people felt then. Like other pieces of jiangnan sizhu, this piece follows a main melody that every instrument play in heterophony.

“Five” (January 1988) by John Cage

Late in composer John Cage’s life, he wrote a collection of pieces termed as “Number Pieces”. These pieces have numbers as titles, depicting the number of performers required to perform the pieces. Many of these pieces use time brackets with short musical fragments as the primary notational device, with some having a fixed instrumentation while others, like “Five”, are meant to be performed by any instruments or voices. Mindfulness

“Mindfulness” is written for Erhu, Pipa, Daruan and Percussion. The term mindfulness refers to the focus of the mind. The piece goes from total calmness into a big mess and comes back to the state of calmness. This imitates the process of the mind in meditation. Where the mind always starts calm, followed by the little thoughts start dancing in the mind. As times passes, the thoughts start getting more insane. The sudden change of harmony in the middle of a compound metered section shows the sudden twist in the thoughts from good to bad. The unity of the thoughts start decrease and leads to an anxiety attack.

Fisherman’s Boat at Dusk

“Fisherman’s Boat at Dusk” is one of the most recognisable tune in the guzheng repertoire. The piece is courtly and elegant, with an ancient flavour. Through it’s melody, the piece depicts an imagery of early dusk, when the skies turn from blue to orange to purple, and the fishermen are returning from their day of bountiful work. It is the people’s homage and respect to the natural elements surrounding them, and a positive outlook to the future.

4 Systems by Earle Brown

The following note appears on a notebook of composer Earle Brown, and is the basis of the “December 1952” as well as being particularly relevant to “Four Systems.”

“…to have elements exist in space…space as an infinitude of directions from an infinitude of points in space…to work (compositionally and in performance) to right, left, back, forward, up, down, and all points between…the score [being] a picture of this space at one instant, which must always be considered as unreal and/or transitory…a performer must set this all in motion (time), which is to say, realize that it is in motion and step into it…either sit and let it move or move through it at all speeds.”

(From FOLIO and 4 Systems prefatory notes)

 Dream by Tai Yun Ming (BMus1, YST)

“In writing this piece I was exploring the ambiguity between traditional and new music. Thecomposition process involves both instinctive and mathematical approaches, random ideas and materials from the systems. By mixing a little confusion throughout the piece, the music moves in ambiguity between the tonal or modal melodic essence of Chinese traditional music and the colourful and timbral sounds of the Klangfarben melodie and contemporary music.

For this piece, the instrumentation was set before any compositional thought. Considering the range and timbre among these instruments other than their distinctive characters, I have actually made Guzheng the main character in this piece due to its widest range and most discrete plucked sounds. Each instrument is assigned a ‘tonal center’ which can be heard in Section II with respect to its role in my imagination. These tonal centers are present throughout the piece and can be recognised easily in the first and second sections. However as the music progresses, it transforms itself into polytonal and atonal forms.”

Mindfulness by Likie Low (BMus1, YST)

“Mindfulness” is written for Erhu, Pipa, Daruan and Percussion. The term mindfulness refers to the focus of the mind. The piece goes from total calmness into a big mess and comes back to the state of calmness. This imitates the process of the mind in meditation. Where the mind always starts calm, followed by the little thoughts start dancing in the mind. As times passes, the thoughts start getting more insane. The sudden change of harmony in the middle of a compound metered section shows the sudden twist in the thoughts from good to bad. The unity of the thoughts start decrease and leads to an anxiety attack.

Mount a Long Wind by Zhou Long

Premiered in 2004, Mount a Long Wind was commissioned by Music From China with funds provided by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust.

“My own journey to America runs concurrently with my journey with Music From China, which has brought us both the joy of exploring and learning. Mount a Long Wind is dedicated to Music From China on their 20th anniversary. It is inspired by Tang dynasty poet Li Bai’s The Hard Road (One of Three).

My music reflects many of the vivid imageries of the poem. Textured waves accompanied by strong rhythmic chords on pipa and zheng symbolise a journey – to mount a long wind and break the heavy waves. As the music briefly calms, a vigorous rhythmic section ensues which shapes a scene of driving a dragon boat. In the middle section, a melody played by the erhu with harmonics on pipa and glissandi on zheng evoke sounds of nature. A recapitulation of the vigorous rhythmic section brings the music to a celebratory climax.”

– Zhou Long

Transient by Ho Chee Kong

This piece, Transient, continues the narrative in the modern tales of Nanyang series. Like in the earlier works, such as Shades of Oil Lamps, the narrator re-tells a story to an audience, except that in this particular narration, the story-teller lapses into fragments of the tale and eventually into silence as his mind becomes impermanent.

Categories Compositions

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