Colleen Phelps led a masterclass on and performance of cicada song in November with students in the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando Initiative:

Sheng / yangqin / toy piano

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…).

VIVE! Tour

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.

Lecture Recital at Tsinghua University

Pipa player Xia YuYan and I presented a lecture recital today at Tsinghua University in Beijing. We discussed our collaborations over the past three years and the challenges of writing new music for Chinese instruments. YuYan performed two traditional pieces alongside my recent work, 空.

Rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals…

I recently finished a new work for sheng (笙), yangqin (扬琴), and toy piano (玩具钢琴) for sheng virtuoso Li YiFan 李怡凡 which will premiere later this year Beijing.

Percussionist Zhang YongYun 张永韵 has been working on my new drum and spoken voice piece 辜月 in Cincinnati. The wonders of Wechat now include enabling rehearsals to take place from halfway across the globe…


Lastly, I have been shadowing rehearsals with the Chinese Bamboo Flute Orchestra (中国竹笛乐团) as part of my ongoing compositional research on dizi (笛子). There is so much to learn and explore…