Gateways: double concerto for PEP (Piano and Erhu Project: Nicole Li and Corey Hamm)

Following the spectacular premiere of Gateways by PEP and members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, this concerto is being expanded and rescored for full orchestra (the original version is chamber orchestra).  It will be premiered on March 3, 2019 by maestra Julia Tai and Philharmonia Northwest in Seattle. 

New work for the Sound of Dragon Ensemble

A new commissioned work to be premiered at the San Francisco International Arts Festival in June 2019.

David for tenor voice and piano

Commissioned by Patrick Raftery, this will be an extended song cycle based on the poem David by Earle Birney.  Premieres in the fall of 2019.

 

NOTES ON WORKS-IN-PROGRESS (ARCHIVAL)

Double Concerto for PEP (Piano and Erhu Project: Nicole Li and Corey Hamm)

I'm very excited to be writing a new concerto, entitled Gateways, for this dynamic duo!  The chamber orchestral version will be premiered by PEP and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra on April 14, 2018.  Just completed program notes:

"In writing this double concerto featuring the Piano-Erhu Project, I wrestled for some time with how I might address the issue of ‘east meets west’, especially given the solo instruments’ highly distinct and disparate sonic characteristics, performance practices and musical traditions.  Gradually, the piece evolved as a patchwork of musical fragments, moments and memories gathered from my own multicultural experiences as a first-generation Chinese American, a Western expatriate living in Taiwan, and now an immigrant to Canada. Woven into the three movements are references to a 90’s Chinese pop song, a children’s rhyme, opulent Romanticism, American minimalism, and other influences both subtle and not. The title refers to a Tang dynasty poem that depicts a gateway as both an opportunity and a barrier, reflecting a deep yearning for a faraway time, place or memory."

Northern Star for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

A multi-movement choreographed symphony in collaboration with Dinuk WijeratneMaxime McKinleyDerek Charke, Vincent Ho and acclaimed dancer/choreographer Yukichi Hattori.  Premieres in October 2017.

Blue for Arkora Music (commissioned by the Redshift Society)

For eight singers (SSAATTBB), cello and lumiphone (a microtonal glass marimba).  Based on fragments taken from various Tang dynasty poems.  Premieres at the Celebration Hall in Vancouver in May 18, 2017.

Bagatelles for the NuBC Collective

For flute/alto flute, cello and piano.  In six movements but still in progress!  Three movements that were previewed in March may be found under my "Listen" menu:  1.  The Palest of Blues; 2.  Rondino; 5.  Elixir.  The first movement is "gently blue" in a Ravel-like way, "Rondino" is a mosaic of fragments that explore two harmonies in a pseudo-rondino form (ABABA), and "Elixir" features two superballs from the local toy store, drilled and mounted on wooden sticks taken from a child's toy.  (Homemade, super-bouncy rubber mallets with sticks short enough to easily move around the inside of a piano).   Premieres on April 29-30, 2016. 

Of Fragments and Dreams for string orchestra

Premiere:  June 3, 2015 by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Anne Manson, conductor. 

This will be a set of 5 brief movements for string orchestra.  Also on the program is Janacek's 'manifesto on love', String Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters".  When initially approached to compose a new work for this concert, I was asked if Janacek's program might inspire something for my own piece.  The art of letter writing is all but lost in this digital age, though I am drawn to the idea of the (hand)written word being (or formerly being) a snapshot of a specific moment, place, state of mind or emotion.  I'm thinking of the volumes of journals I've scrawled since childhood, stacks of old letters from loved ones, cards and notes with particularly meaningful messages that I've saved.  I find handwriting to be highly expressive of the writer's personality and voice; re-reading old entries, letters and cards triggers memories and emotions from years and even decades earlier.  

The idea behind Of Fragments and Dreams is to write a collection of short movements that aren't love letters as in Janacek's work, but nonetheless musical postcards or snapshots (one composer friend joked that the modern version would be musical 'tweets') of the past, slightly tinged with nostalgia and each capturing either a fragment of a distant time, a breathtaking moment, a fleeting memory or a lost dream.

White Wines

For five females: four vocalists and one speaking percussionist.  A collaboration with Adam Frank on a radio play adaptation of Gertrude Stein's White Wines. My esteemed collaborator has been waiting patiently for me to clear my schedule so that we can work intensively to complete this piece.  We had a great workshop last summer and were able to experiment with some interesting textures and combinations of speaking, singing, percussive noises (from singers and instruments alike).   I'm excited to return to this project.  It will be my first time working with text, voice and sound in a more abstract way.  I'm hoping to devote much of May-June 2015 to working on this piece.   [update: semi-staged live performance premieres June 5-6, 2016 at the Cultch in Vancouver!]

 

Additional projects under discussion; details to follow...