Merry Christmas!

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Chinese-inspired Music

I love the peace, grandeur, and dignity that is to be found in Chinese art and music. There is such consolation in contemplating the beauty found in nature as depicted by many traditional Chinese artists. My two compositions shown here were inspired by this beauty. The first one is the premier of “The Creation: Trio for Erhu, Cello and Piano” which was performed this year at Longbeach City College by members of the Los Angeles Composers Collective. The second is “The Blossom and the Stream”, a duet for violin and piano which I composed and recorded in my home studio. Enjoy!!

“The Creation”, Trio for Erhu, Cello, and Piano

I’ve recently completed a new chamber piece for erhu, cello and piano which I am very excited to share with you! This is my first time writing for erhu and it has been a wonderful experience getting to know this beautiful instrument. The piece will be performed live in Longbeach later this year by members of the Los Angeles Composers Collective.

Program notes:

“The Creation”, Trio for Erhu, Cello, and Piano, is a musical story of the creation of the world as depicted in the Book of Genesis. The three instruments playing the one musical composition represent the one God in three Persons. In Genesis, it is these three persons that create the world and in the music it is the three instruments together that depict the creation and bring to our minds the world being made.

The erhu is an ancient Chinese instrument and what is interesting about its inclusion in this piece is the fact that it is believed to have originated in central Asia. Some people also believe that the original Eden was located somewhere in Asia. I’ve employed both an ancient Chinese sound and a modern western one with the goal in mind to join the two, hand in hand, in a cohesive whole.

The piece moves through several of the major events found in Genesis. It begins with the existence of God before all things and then explores His act of creating. The piece is not made of movements so much as ideas, musical ideas which flow from one to another. They are as follows:

The Unmoved Mover
Wind Over the Deep
Birth of Light
Land and Sea
Winged Birds
Sea Monsters
Birds and Fish, Sea and Sky
Animals and Plants on Land
The Meeting of Man and Woman
The Seventh Day

The musicians have these ideas clearly labeled in their music, but the audience is allowed and encouraged to use their imagination to see in their mind’s eye what is taking place. This is not meant to be a play-by-play depiction of Genesis but is rather an exploration into the act of creation that, when we look around at the wonders of the natural world and at ourselves, we know took place at some point in time, an act that again took place, in imitation of the original creation, during the composition of this music.

Erhu

I’m in the process of composing a chamber piece that involves the beautiful instrument called the erhu. The erhu two-stringed bowed instrument has an unmistakable sound, a singing quality that, when I hear it, often connects me to nature and allows me to rest in the present moment.   If you have never heard this instrument before, or even if you have and would like to experience the sound again, I recommend the following video.

There is a wonderful webpage about the erhu written by Lan Tung. As stated on the website by Lan Tung,

“Originated in Central Asia and introduced to China more than one thousand years ago, the erhu 二胡 belongs to the large family of stick fiddles that are found in many countries. Xiqin 奚琴 was the first bowed instrument mentioned in Chinese literature in Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). It is believed to be the precursor of the erhu. Xiqin was also called huqin 胡琴.
hu = people lived in the north and west of China; qin = musical instrument
huqin = musical instrument of the hu people, explaining its origin
er = two, stating that the instrument has two strings”

Lan Tung, “Lang Tung Music, Erhu”, http://www.lantungmusic.com/erhu/, (accessed February 23, 2016).

I’ve been referring to this website so that I can learn about the playing technique and how to properly compose for the instrument. I’m writing a piece called “The Creation” based on the Genesis account of the creation of the world. My composition will be performed live later this year in an LA Composers Collective concert in Longbeach. More info about the concert to come!