I have been at Banff for the past week and a half collaborating with the Butter Quartet from The Hague —
They premiered a new quartet I wrote for them, Mycelia whisper lines, last night. It has been such a wonderful experience to work with the Butters and their historical instruments.
I recorded the impression remains late last week with Li Yi Fan (sheng 笙), Zhu Jiang Yang (yangqin 扬琴), and Alexander Colding Smith (conductor 指挥):
It was great to collaborate with everyone and for the piece — which we have been discussing since 2015 — to come full circle. Yi Fan and I had met in an elevator at China Conservatory one evening. She lamented that none of the composers she knew would write sheng pieces and asked if I were interested on the spot. We met for several demonstrations and kept in touch, but she left the exact instrumentation of the work up to me. (Perhaps I would have reconsidered my chosen instrumentation had I envisioned myself carting a toy piano around Beijing taxis for a year…).
I finished a new graphic score for Colleen last month called cicada song; it is being premiered on Saturday in Texas at Sam Houston State University in a realization for six percussionists.
I had also written a trio back in August/September for sheng 笙, yangqin 扬琴, and toy piano 玩具钢琴 called the impression remains. I had a great rehearsal with Zhu Jiang Yang, Li Yi Fan, and Li Yun this morning in Beijing; we are making a recording of the piece next week.
I head to Canada on July 8th and will be at Banff for the month to workshop a new piece during EQ: Evolution of the String Quartet. (Banff must surely be the opposite of Beijing…?)
Chinese composer Gao Weijie 高为杰 turned 80 this year. It’s hard to imagine having come to China without his keen insights and encouragement along the way. Gao Ping 高平 had organized a festschrift in his honor in the fall and asked me to contribute a chapter; the book was published last week by Southwest China Normal University Press (西南师范大学出版社).
This photo accompanies the article — it was taken at his birthday party in Spring 2015, a few months after I first came to Beijing.
智者、严师、乐人、挚友：高为杰80寿辰庆贺纪念雅集 | “Sage, Strict Teacher, Musician, Friend: Gao Weijie’s 80th Birthday Celebration Anniversary Collection”
Reverberations (2015) was a winner of the Victoria Composers Collective/Oak Bay New Music Festival’s Call for Scores and will be performed in Victoria, British Columbia tonight.
VIVE! Ensemble, conductor Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia, and percussionist Allen Otte are doing a tour of Cincinnati, Nashville, and Texas with a new chamber version of my On a paper nautilus. Mercedes gave an interview about the concert over on the CSB site here.
Xia YuYan 夏雨言 performed my recent pipa solo 空 in Lisbon last week at 21st CHIME (European Foundation for Chinese Music) Conference – Chinese Music as Cross Culture. Below is the poster and a picture of her performing with our friend Jiang Shaofeng 姜少峰 as part of their pipa and tap dance collaboration.