Coro (sur un terrain inconnu) (2018) premiered by the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart at Ticino Musica

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First time spending time in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland.  In an unusually heated summer Lugano for us was a boiler, stifling and hot most of the time with a searing sun above, especially past the train station, up the hill, around our temporary abode and the conservatorio.  Occasional thunderstorms were a treat, during which the nights cooled down just enough for us to sleep a good, sound few hours.  What’s desired weren’t alcohol of any sort, but bitters and chinotto and Rivella and fizzante, served in glasses over ice.  Pasta became a nightmare for its sleep-inducing virtue, and we were served precisely that at every single lunch, good old white carbs fed to us as if we were at an old-school canteen, with color-coded meal tickets and all.  Ticino Musica’s second edition of composers’ workshop proceeded on like this, in full summer heat and in carb-effectuated siesta perfuming the early afternoon lectures.  The artistic director and the guest composer, Oscar Bianchi and Bernhard Gander, amazed us by their persistence and energy; they were always there, always ready to support and give consults.  Otherwise, the composer pinched herself; the composer persevered; the composer drowned herself in endless coffees and teas; the composer, however, always woke up by the evening breeze of the lake and the cool ambrosia served on rock with a slice of lemon!

Despite all that, the highlights of the festival for the composer were the two concerts with the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, one at the Museo Vincenzo Vela in Ligornetto and the other at the LAC (Lugano Arte e Cultura), both took place at the end of July.

It was an honor working with the renowned Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, the vocal ensemble for contemporary music today.  Prior to my arrival at the festival I had composed a piece for three vocalists (high soprano, mezzo-soprano, bass), Coro (sur un terrain inconnu) (2018), for the ensemble.  Meanwhile, developed on-site in a collaborative, lab-like manner, along with the dancers from the Ticino in Danza (collaboration assisted by choreographer Katja Vaghi), were my 5-min miniature HUMANITY : a miniature (2018) for lyric soprano, countertenor, and three dancers.

Coro (sur un terrain inconnu) (2018) is an 8.5-minute poetry for voices that unassumingly aestheticizes the kinetic motions of preys silencing themselves upon the arrival of a silent, presumed predator and of the said predator, presumably silent, music-ing unwittingly merely by its moving about.  It’s a music that can be perceived by sound and by sound and sight both, as the movements of the singers connote yet another screen for dramatic perception, while the music along in sound suggests spatiality and situations.  On the other hand, HUMANITY : a miniature (2018) is and was meant to be a project of the absurd and subtle confrontation.  Camus’s Sisyphus, beautiful acoustic jargons of contemporary music, Rick Astley, bride of God, and a series of aborted vocalising from a banal K-pop song were scrambled together by the composer, mildly deranged by the heat, to bluntly and rudely smile-toothily at the elegant audience of the Museo Vincenzo Vela.

Working with the vocalists of Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart was a fruitful, insightful experience, and the dancers of Ticino in Danza were simply marvelous!  All these I will take with me in my future creations and processes — the inspirations that will help shape what I do as both a composer and an artist!

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Final revising and editing of Coro (sur un terrain inconnu) (2018) in Zürich early July.

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je tu il-là elles (2017) in collaboration with Ensemble Adapter, premiere December 14th, 2017, Berlin

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In collaboration with Ensemble Adapter, my new composition for flute, clarinet, harp, percussion, and electronics je tu il-là elles (2017) is to be premiered by the ensemble tomorrow, December 14th 20h30, at the ExRotaprint in Wedding, Berlin.

A winner of the Adoptions 2017 call-for-proposal, the project of je tu il-là elles will be performed alongside four other projects by Mathieu Corajod (CH), Piotr Peszat (PL), Heather Frasch (USA), and Jacek Sotomski (PL) respectively.  The Icelandic-German Ensemble Adapter consists of Gunnhildur Einarsdóttir (harp), Kristjana Helgadóttir (flute), Matthias Engler (percussion), and Ingólfur Vilhjálmsson (clarinet).

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「遶境共聲」(The Pilgrimage) – theater for new music and multimedia premieres and lectures

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Being a Taiwanese composer yet having received formal music education primarily in the US, I am glad to announce that, after fourteen years of composition life – studies and career combined – and having my music heard mostly in the US and Europe, I will finally debut in Taiwan at the end of this month!

Commissioned by the Innovation Series 2017 (新點子樂展) of National Cultural Center (國家兩廳院 National Theater & Concert Hall, Taipei, Taiwan), speckled deep ∆ Force Majeure (2017) (星塵 ∆ 浩蕩的未知) for 11 solo voices, 2 percussionists, piano, and electronics, my 9-min piece written specifically for the music theater program “The Pilgrimage” (「遶境共聲」)will be performed in three consecutive days at the Black Box of the National Theater in Taipei on September 29th, 30th, and October 1st! I will also be giving a lecture at the 國立臺灣師範大學 National Taiwan Normal University during the festival. (Lecture title : “沉浸、哲思批判、與以個人主體展現文化性”)

“The Pilgrimage” is an one-and-a-half-hour abstract music theater involving full-staged and lighting design, scenography, mobile sound installations made out of anthropological objects from several key industries in the Taiwanese past, segments of freshly composed music by seven Taiwanese female composers of different generations, and a narrative loosely linked to a sequence of events in the Taiwanese history. The program features a team of fantastic artists, composers, and musicians, the full list of which can be viewed via the attached link.

The sonic narrative of the program is made out of music by Chia-Lin Pan, Shih-Hui Chen, Ching-Wen Chao, Yi-Chen Chen, Mei-Fang Lin, Yu-Hui Chang, and me (潘家琳、陳士惠、趙菁文、陳宜貞、林梅芳、林慕萱、張玉慧). The program was conceived by composer Ching-Wen Chao (趙菁文), and the final production is created by the up-and-coming director Ding-Yun Huang (黃鼎云).  The stage and mise-en-scene was designed and produced by the World Stage Design 2017 gold medalist Cheng-Wei Teng (鄧振威).  The performance features conductor Peiyao Wang (王佩瑤), percussion soloist Aiyun Huang (黃皚雲), and an amazing team of vocalists and musicians!  A friend of mine, author Michael Harris Cohen, lends his captivating voice in the reading of my poem “Force Majeure” which will be heard substantially in the electronic part of speckled deep ∆ Force Majeure (2017)!

Innovation Series 2017 also presents “The Hours of Flowers” (Morgenstern Trio and Nina Janssen-Deinzer) and “In the Eyes of the Nomads” (Atlas Ensemble).

For more information and ticket information, see HERE.

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UPDATES : New Projects for 2017

After my winter trip to Asia (Taiwan, Japan), I returned to a United States that was about to undergo an exhausting trial of civil resistance against the rescindment of humanity.  Life goes on yet is now again charged with a strong awareness of our existence as human individuals and as the living beneficiaries of our Earth.  Within an interconnected web of matters and consciousnesses, I look ahead upon my upcoming composition projects with heightened focus, reflection, and sense of artistic responsibility.  On the other hand, having suffered from a long and devastating drought, Los Angeles is finally rain-drenched for the season.  Perhaps the poppies will bloom wild this spring in Southern California!

Innovation Series 2017 (新點子樂展) – the 30th Anniversary of the National Performing Arts Center of Taiwan (國家兩廳院) Edition : Music Theater Concerts     (Taipei, Taiwan)

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I was commissioned by the “Innovation Series” of the National Performing Arts Center of Taiwan (國家兩廳院 “新點子樂展”) to participate in the special music theater program marking the 30th anniversary of the Taipei National Theater & Concert Hall.  Curated and initiated by composer Chao Ching-Wen, the concert-length music theater program involves six nationally and internationally known female Taiwanese composers, a theater director, a lighting and set designer, an installation artist, a percussion soloist, a pianist, ten vocalists, and a tonmeister.  It combines and synthesizes the abstraction and expressive powers of contemporary music and non-narrative theatre, and conceptually centers itself upon experiential vignettes, memory imageries, and imaginations of latent or future history of Taiwan.  This is my first time undertaking such ambitious semi-collective project — besides the 10-min individual piece for voices, percussion, and electronics I am composing for the specific segment of the program, I am also contributing sound materials throughout other parts of the program.  It is also a highly experimental and inspiring process working closely and collaboratively with emerging Taiwanese director Ding-Yun Huang (黃鼎云), whose work is characterized by its evocative visceral poetry and complex, juxtaposed symbolism.

The concert will take place at the Black Box of the National Theater in Taipei, Taiwan on September 30th and October 1st, 2017, preceded by a press conference and followed by panel discussions.

Collaboration with Ensemble Adapter    (Berlin, Germany)

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Selected as one of the five composers for Berlin-based Ensemble Adapter‘s commission program “Adoptions 2017”, I will collaborate with Adapter for a new composition for flute, clarinet, harp, percussion, and electronics which will be premiered and recorded in Berlin in December this year.

My composition, titled je tu il-là elles, will figuratively project and interpret the theatrical scaffold of Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s 1974 film Je, Tu, Il, Elle, which operates on the signaling trigger that is “hunger” and the awareness of Self in relation to Others.  The brilliance of Icelandic/German group Ensemble Adapter resides in its members’ unusually mature and personal instrumental sounds, as well as the group’s quietly reflective yet highly progressive artistic trajectory.  It is my honor to be able to work with such ensemble in a highly collaborative manner!

Selected as a Composition Fellow for the Summer Akademie at Schloss Solitude 2017 – working with Ensemble SurPlus    (Stuttgart, Germany)

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Selected as a composition fellow among a competitive pool of 200 candidates, I will participate in this year’s Summer Akademie for Composers at the Schloss Solitude directed and instructed by composers Chaya Czernowin, Johannes Schöllhorn, and Samir Odeh-Tamimi.  For three weeks in August, 2017, the composition fellows under the direction of the three master composers will gather at the Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany and engage in an intensive and critical discourse of contemporary music composition.  In addition, I will compose a new work to be performed by the renown German ensemble Ensemble SurPlus at the closing concert of the akademie period.


Pale Fire (2015) Selected and Featured on the Hear Now/PIE Concert, April 28th, 2017, as part of the Hear Now Festival 2017    (Los Angeles, USA)

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Pale Fire (2015) for solo piano and electronics is selected to be performed on the Hear Now/PIE (People Inside Electronics) concert of the Hear Now Festival 2017 in April!  Hear Now is a premium historic festival showcasing Los Angeles-based contemporary music composers.  Each year the program consists of works anonymously selected among submissions collected through invitations.  It is my pleasure to have Pale Fire (2015) receiving its third performance in Los Angeles, again performed by the virtuosic pianist Vicki Ray who commissioned the work in the first place!

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Collaboration with Ensemble Adapter in 2017

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Ensemble Adapter.  Photo courtesy of Ensemblekollektiv Berlin

I am honored to be selected as one of the five composers for Berlin-based Ensemble Adapter‘s commission program “Adoptions 2017”!  I will collaborate with Adapter for a new composition for flute, clarinet, harp, percussion, and electronics which will then be premiered and recorded in Berlin late next year.

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Pale Fire (2015) German premiere as part of the Next Generation konzert at Donaueschinger Musiktage 2016

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As a winner of the Call-for-Score, my solo piano and electronics piece Pale Fire (2015) will receive its European premiere as part of the Next Generation concert at this year’s Donaueschinger Musiktage (Donaueschingen Festival), featuring pianist Talvi Hunt, with electronics controlled by Emilio Guim.

Thursday, October 13th, 15h30
Konzertsaal der Musikhoschule Trossingen
Trossingen, Germany

Free Admission

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VIDEO : Pale Fire (2015) – premiere performance by Vicki Ray in February, 2016

Youtube video of Pale Fire (2015) for solo piano and electronics – from the February premiere at the REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) by pianist Vicki Ray as part of her recital “The Elements” – released by the Piano Spheres Concert Series, Los Angeles.

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