「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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UPDATES : LA Times and Amfion (Finland) reviews, Sävelyspaja, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Darmstadt Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, and other news!

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Sävellyspaja 2016, Porvoo, Finland.  photography : Heikki Tuuli

Spring to Summer 2016 has been an exciting period for me! In addition to performances of my music in the United States and Europe (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Finland, and Germany), within half a season I have received three highly positive reviews of my music, defended and received my Ph.D. degree from the Brandeis University, and attended two music conferences/festivals and one residency within which I presented my music in all formats.

Reviews for Pale Fire (2015) earlier this year –

Still fresh from the excitement of working with Vicki Ray, the virtuoso pianist and one of the most prominent new music advocates in the United States, on the Piano Spheres commission (with the generous support of Judge Philip Saeta and Judy Saeta), I was happy to receive a highly positive review from the Los Angeles Times (Mark Swed) on my piece Pale Fire (2015) for solo piano and electronics.  Being my Los Angeles debut, Pale Fire (2015) and its premiere was described as follows by Mr. Swed :

“The reality of ‘Pale Fire’ was something more akin to John Cage’s ‘Water Music,’ with a pianist up to all kinds of shenanigans on and around the piano. Electronics were employed. It was not easy to tell whether the equipment manipulated the piano, or the pianist manipulated the electronics. Everything was fragmented. Sounds came before or long after Ray’s hands hit the keys or did whatever it was she did to the strings inside the piano or made vocal sounds. The end result, however, was fascinating.”  
(Mark Swed, LA Times)

To read the LA Times review in its entirety, please click here.

In addition, the same performance of the piece was also reviewed by author Douglas Messerli, who wrote about the piece as follows :

“Mu-Xuan Lin’s breathtaking electronic and piano duo, Pale Fire ended the evening, evoking the Nabokov fiction through the use of spoken Russian phrases and an almost hallucinatory array of electronic and piano soundings.”
(Douglas Messerli, Ustheater, Opera, and Performance)

To read Messerli’s review in its entirety, please click here.

To listen to the live recording of Pale Fire (2015), please visit the “Music” page on this site here, or visit my SoundCloud page here.

Receiving Ph.D. in Music Composition and Theory, and public reading performance of Bonjour Minuit – a theatre of poetry : Proem and Episodes I:I-I:IV (2014-15) –

In May I returned to Boston and successfully defended my dissertation monograph, titled “On the Epistemological and Methodological Approaches in the Analysis of Contemporary Music and a Synthesized Analysis of Fausto Romitelli’s La Sabbia del Tempo (1991)”, and composition Bonjour Minuit – a theatre of poetry : Proem and Episodes I:I-I:IV (2015).  I therefore received the degree Doctor of Philosophy in Music Composition and Theory from the Brandeis University.  The dissertation monograph will be available on ProQuest network through general online search next month.  The audio recording of the public reading session of Bonjour Minuit – a theatre of poetry : Proem and Episodes I:I-I:IV (2015) can be found at my SoundCloud page here.

Sävellyspaja of Summer Sounds Festival, premiere of Danse, danse… sinon nous sommes perdu! (à la brève) (2016) and the Amfion review –

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Rehearsal with the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Helsinki.

In June and July I attended the Sävellyspaja of Summer Sounds Festival in Porvoo, Finland. The composition workshop is embedded within the framework of the festival, and each of the young composition fellows was assigned to compose a miniature based on the idea of “Surutanssi” (sorrowful dance) which was to be performed by the renown Avanti! Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Andres Kaljuste.  The five-day workshop felt wonderfully productive without the drudgery of exhaustion, and Helsinki and the Finnish countryside along with their cuisine and seafood felt like the natural extension of the esthetic experience, part and parcel of the workshop and the festival.  Working with Finnish composers Jukka Tiensuu and Tomi Räisänen was inspiring!  On July 1st our miniatures for ensemble were premiered at the Kulttuuritalo Grand in Porvoo, Finland.  My miniature Danse, danse… sinon nous sommes perdu! (à la brève) (2016) received glowing review from the magazine Amfion – pro musica classica :

“Illan parasta antia olivat taiwanilais-yhdysvaltalaisen Mu-Xuan Linin, brittiläisen Eugene Birmanin ja japanilaisen Kaito Nakahorin teokset. …. Linille elämä on tanssia eri musiikkien tahtiin – musiikkien joita emme voi aina itse valita. Danse, danse… sinon nous sommes perdus! (Tanssi, tanssi… muuten olemme kadotetut!) punoo kiinnostavia hybridisointivärejä pienestä kamariyhtyeestä. Harvasta tekstuurista kohti tiheämpää poljentoa etenevä teos nytkähtelee liikkeelle kuin oikosulun saanut robotti innoittuen loppua kohti ontuvaan ja epämukavaan tanssinumeroon.”
(A better translation from Finnish to English will be provided later)
“The best of the evening were the pieces by Mu-Xuan Lin (USA/Taiwan), Eugene Birman (USA/UK), and Kaito Nakahori (Japan). …. Lin portrays life as one that dances to different rhythms – music that we can not always choose. Danse, danse … sinon nous sommes perdus! (Dance, dance … otherwise we are lost!) weaves interesting hybrid timbres from a small chamber of the orchestra. The music progresses from a sparse texture towards a higher rhythmic frequency and finally to jerky movements as a short circuit triggers a robot to limp to an awkward dance number.”
(Maija Hynninen, Amfion – pro musica classica)

To read the Amfion (Maija Hynninen, critic) review in its entirety, please click here.

Atlantic Center for the Arts residency, working with Georg Friedrich Haas –

Selected as one of the eight Associate Artists (supported by scholarship), I was honored to be able to attend the Master-in-Residence Program Residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, this summer, working with Master Artist Georg Friedrich Haas.

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Due to my participation in the Sävellyspaja of Summer Sounds in Finland, I was only able to arrive at the ACA one week later than others,
yet within the two-week residency period, I enjoyed an incredible experience interacting with my fellow artists in all three disciplines ACA2016_D2(music composition, writing, and visual art), conversing with and learning from Mr. Haas who has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy to us, and sharing my work with others.  Besides, we shared a habitat with the armadillos and tortoises, did yoga every morning (led by the unabashedly candid Porochista Khakpour), and supped on delicious pan-Asian-influenced modern cuisine prepared daily by an amazing l’artiste cuisiniere named Lexa!

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Me in front of my residence studio, in the midst of New Smyrna jungle (ACA).

(Photography : Dominique Schafer)

Darmstadt Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, and the Flute-Composition Workshop with Eva Furrer and Rebecca Saunders –

After Florida I spent two weeks in Switzerland, a short repose from the hectic voyage and projects.  With the generous support of the Center for German and European Studies at the Brandeis University, in late July I then traveled to Darmstadt, Germany, a postwar-rebuilt city near Frankfurt that is the hometown for the famous Darmstadt Ferienkurse für Neue Musik since the 1950s.  This edition’s Ferienkurse marked the 70th anniversary of its inception and was organized with great ceremony and attention, comprising a huge program and a roster of super stars within the new music world.  The overarching topic of this year’s anniversary edition is “Music in the Expanded Field,” which is manifested by an aesthetically and ontologically diverse body of repertoire and performances along with philosophical/theoretical discussions and multi-disciplinary engagements.  The rigorous composition practice represented by Lachenmann, Furrer, Ferneyhough, and Czernowin was paired with works by les enfants terribles of the new musical dialectician like Mahnkopf or new conceptualist Kreidler; music as organic and sensuous expressions such as works by Aperghis and Filidei was next to equally sensuous yet non-directional Klaus Lang or the quiet contemplation of Andre; the grand theatrics of Steen-Andersen and Takasugi stood in curious angle facing the boldly political yet naïvely straight-forward Jennifer Walshe.  Workshops and performances range from music journalism to electronics ateliers, as well as composition engaging sites, body, and/or media and the composition-instrument platforms focusing on specific formations and concepts.  First week of the Ferienkurse also consisted of a series of panel discussions and lectures, which added to the creativity-centered festival an aspect of discourse that is energetic and constructive.

My reflection on the Ferienkurse will be elaborated and presented in another report later.  For now I would describe briefly my involvement in the Ferienkurse.  Besides many of the concerts, workshops, and lectures I was able to attend during the festival, I was also quite fortunate to have been chosen to participate actively in the Flute-Composition Workshop supervised by Rebecca Saunders and Eva Furrer.  It was an intensive and intense three-day program which was concluded by a public presentation-concert.  Two composers were paired with one flutist, and we workshopped together (as a team) for three afternoons.  Each composer developed a musical idea based on the sonic materials tried out and experimented within the workshops, and composed a sketch/miniature for the flutist to read and perform at the public presentation-concert at the end of the third day.  During the workshop days the two instructors walked through each room to supervise on flute playing techniques and notations.  The experience was one of intense stress and great exhilaration, as the limitation of time and the peculiar condition — working within the same room with another fellow composer whom you did not know well — prompted many interesting interactions, difficulties, and inspirations.  The final presentation-concert was very well attended, and it was exceedingly fun to observe others’ laboratory results and the audience’s reactions.

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Public presentation-concert on August 5th, Darmstadt Ferienkurse.  I explained to the audience the particular sound gesture I employed in my miniature – a sweeping air-voice sound traversing from one end of the alto flute to the other end (extended by a paper megaphone), followed by flutist Tamara Kohler’s reading of the project.

During the Ferienkurse, I also had the fortune of working with Beat Furrer, Francesco Filidei, and Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf in group and private lessons.  I harvested different knowledge and understandings respectively from these composers who hold very different opinions about composition.  Towards the end of my stay, I also gave an Open Space presentation — The Immersive and the Dialectic : Mu-Xuan Lin Presents Recent Works, focusing on works written between year 2013 and 2015, and on my role as a Taiwanese composer in a cultural paradox and what I consider my ultimate aim of music composition.

 

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PREMIERE Bonjour Minuit – a theatre of poetry : Proem, Episodes I:I ~ I:IV (2014-15)

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Mu-Xuan Lin

Bonjour Minuit – a theatre of poetry : Proem, Episodes I:I, I:II, I:III, I:IV (2014-15)
for three vocalists, ensemble, and electronics

PREMIERE PERFORMANCE

Matt Sharrock, conductor
Aliana de la Guardia, soprano
Thea Lobo, mezzo-soprano
Sam Kreidenweis, baritone
Orlando Cela, flute/piccolo/alto flute
Joe Walker, horn
Yoko Hagino, piano
Mike Williams, percussion
Lilit Hartunian, violin
Stephen Moratto, violoncello
Eddie Kass, contrabass

Saturday, May 7th, 20h00
Slosberg Hall of Brandeis University
415 South St., Waltham, MA 02453, USA

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