small ensemble (2~11 players)

Works for Small Ensemble (2~11 players)

Gz (2017)
A Vuza Canon for tenor recorder and shakuhachi

Information

Formation: Duo

Instrumentation: Tenor Recorder and Shakuhachi

Composed in: 2016~17

Duration: 9 minutes

Commissioned by: Tosiya Suzuki

Première

March 25, 2017

Tosiya Suzuki, recorder; Tadashi Tajima, shakuhachi

Tokyo, Japan

Listen
recording is forthcoming.

 

Additional Information

Gz is an abbreviation of Gestaltzerfall, or “shape decomposition,” a psychological phenomenon where one experiences a temporary loss of the ability to recognize certain letters, particularly often experienced in Japanese Kanjis. The elements of loss, uncertainty, and doubt are the underlying motivations for composing this work.

Named after Rumanian mathematician Dan Tudor Vuza who researched it extensively, a Vuza canon is a rhythmic, tiling canon with some peculiar musical properties. Even at the maximal density of the canon where all the voices are playing, the overall perception a continuous flow at the basic pulse unit (in this piece, it is an eighth-note). Furthermore, at that moment, each “pulsation” is enunciated by only one voice. In other words, when one voice is enunciating, the other voice is absent. The end result is something similar to a hocket.

While this piece does start as a 12-part Vuza canon compressed into two voices, its canonic structure becomes distorted little by little, and by the end the work dissolves into layers of breath sounds.

Commissioned by Tosiya Suzuki, Gz is dedicated to Tosiya Suzuki, Tadashi Tajima who premièred this work, and to Fabien Lévy, who introduced me to the fascinating world of the Vuza canons.

 

Envoi II (2016)
for string trio

Information

Formation: Trio

Instrumentation: Violin, Viola, Cello

Composed in: 2016

Duration: circa 12 minutes

Commissioned by: Music from Japan (New York)

Première

February 19, 2017

Members of Momenta Quartet

New York, NY

Listen
recording is forthcoming.

 

Additional Information

Commissioned by Music from Japan

In memoriam James (Jamie) Deitz

Commissioned by Music From Japan (New York).

When I wrote my Culs-de-sac (en passacaille) for string quartet in 2009, it was evident to me that I should develop the sonic soundscape that I have created in that piece. I have decided that I write Les six aspects du néant, a cycle of compositions for string quartet and its subsets.

Envoi II marks the fourth piece that I completed in this cycle. Envoi is another series of pieces I have been working on since 2015. In this piece, these two cycles intersect in their compositional and affective senses.

This piece relates itself to the cycle Les six aspects du néant, for its compositional materials are taken from the pieces within that cycle that I have already written. These materials have been then worked out once again in order to compose this piece.

In its literary sense, an envoi (or envoy) is an author’s concluding words, or a short stanza that concludes a ballade. In modern French, it is a word frequently used to denote the action of “sending off” (packages or letters) or simply “sending” (one’s best wishes, etc.). While its author is specific, the recipient could be, depending on the context, open-ended. It may be to someone alive, or it may be to a fictional character, or someone deceased.

As I started to write this piece, I received the news that James Deitz, percussionist whom I have been privileged to know since my time during the graduate studies at Yale University, departed from this world. This piece is dedicated to his memory.

Many thanks are due to Prof. Fuyuko Fukunaka, musicologist at Tokyo University of the Arts who extended the opportunity to write this work for the Music From Japan Festival 2017, Mr. Naoyuki Miura and Ms. Mari Ono, organizers of Music From Japan (New York), and the members of Momenta Quartet.

 

Près de l'Abîme (2013)
for clarinet quartet

Additional Information

A work for Patricia Shands and her clarinet student quartet at the University of the Pacific, to be performed in Assisi, Italy during the ClarinetFest® 2013.

French composer Olivier Messiaen writes the following in the prefatory notes of his Quatuor pour la fin du Temps:

[…] L’abîme, c’est le Temps, avec ses tristesses, ses lassitudes. Les oiseaux, c’est le contraire du Temps ; c’est notre désir de lumière, d’étoiles, d’arc-en-ciel et de jubilantes vocalises !

The third movement Abîme des oiseaux of the Quatuor fascinates me from a philosophical point of view. How can I imagine simultaneously the dialectically opposed identities as described by Messiaen: abyss (time) and the birds (non-time)? When I think of Abîme des oiseaux, I am stricken by the fact that the title alone points to something more than visual; in fact, it transcends the sensorial imagination. I find this very transcendence so critical; it is as though the meaning of metaphysics has been revealed. When the birds cannot be imagined any longer visually, what becomes of them? Or what are those birds in the first place, without time? Or how is it to imagine the abyss? Questions flow ceaselessly.

In my composition, Près de l’Abîme, I go on to ask these metaphysical questions in and from the great Messiaen piece. It is a work in progress, and commissioned by Patricia Shands, an incredible clarinet player and one of the rare, exemplary pedagogues. Through her I learned the necessities of inwardness, or the act of self-questioning, so as to let shine the outward expressions as a human being. This work is dedicated to her.

This work is scheduled to be performed in Assisi, Italy as a part of ClarinetFest® in July, 2013, by Concinnity Clarinet Quartet.

 

Tr (2011, rev. 2012)
for violoncello and piano

Information

Formation: Duo

Instrumentation: Violoncello and Piano

Composed in: 2011, rev. 2012

Duration: Varies; 20 seconds minimum to 2.5 minutes max.

Commissioned by: ensemble cross.art, Stuttgart Germany

Première

October 28, 2011

Céline Papion, violoncello

Junko Yamamoto, piano

Open Art Space (Stuttgart, Germany)

Listen
Sean Katsuyama, violoncello
Mahir Cetiz, piano
April 4, 2012

Additional Information

The title “Tr” signifies two elements in the composition. First it signifies a “trill,” a musical gesture in which a musician alternates two notes rapidly. In a traditional sense, trills are used for decorative purposes. In my piece, however, the idea of using two pitches becomes the core idea of the piece. The Violoncello starts with one note, which is the last note of the composition that was played before mine. From that note the violoncello continues to traverse, in the span of two minutes and thirty seconds, arriving at the note that commences the next composition.

Thus this continual gesture of the violoncello also recalls the word “transition,” which is what the violoncello essentially does. My interest in this composition isn’t to say something, but rather to become a conduit between two compositions written by two composers. My identity as a composer becomes a conduit, which is placed upon another invisible identity, J.S. Bach. The first chord of his St. Matthew’s Passion is silently sustained on the piano, in baroque tuning. For me, the first chorus of the Passion itself signifies that of the musical transition (a lot of suspended notes, etc.).

Tr, was commissioned by the “ensemble cross.art” of Stuttgart, for their concert entitled “cross.art 400,” in which each of the composers writes a very short piece of 20 seconds. 20 composers take part in this project, which explains the number 400. I dedicate this composition to Tristan Murail, my composition teacher who left his teaching post at Columbia University in 2011.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Le titre « Tr » a deux significations dans la composition. Il signifie tout d’abord une « trille », un geste musical dans lequel le musicien alterne rapidement entre deux notes. Selon le sens traditionnel, les trilles sont des gestes décoratifs. Dans ma pièce, cependant, l’idée de mobiliser deux notes devient l’idée centrale de la pièce. Le violoncelle commence avec une note, la dernière note de la composition qui est jouée avant ma composition. Il continue à la parcourir, pendant un intervalle de deux minutes et demi, pour arriver à la note débutant la composition suivante.

Ainsi, le geste continuel du violoncelle évoque également le mot « transition », ce qui est essentiellement ce que le violoncelle fait. Mon but dans cette composition n’est pas de dire quelque chose, mais plutôt d’être un conduit entre deux compositions écrites par deux compositeurs. Mon identité en tant que compositeur devient d’être aussi ce conduit, qui se situe au-dessus d’une autre identité invisible. Cette identité invisible, c’est J.S. Bach, dont le premier accord de la « Passion selon St. Matthieu » est silencieusement soutenu par le piano, en accord baroque. Pour moi, le premier chorus de la Passion lui-même signifie une transition musicale (plain de notes en suspense, etc.).

Tr a été commandée par l’ « ensemble cross.art » de Stuttgart, pour son concert intitulé « cross.art 400 », dans lequel chaque compositeur écrit une pièce très courte, durant seulement 20 secondes. 20 compositeurs participent à ce projet. Cela explique le numéro 400. Je dédie cette composition à Tristan Murail, mon maître qui quitta son poste d’enseignant à l’Université Columbia en 2011.

 

Tréma/Trame I (2011)
for four players

Information

Formation: 2 pianos, 2 percussions

Instrumentation:

Percussion I:

Vibraphone prepared with five pieces of inverted crotales;

Glockenspiel

Percussion II:

Marimba (4.3 octaves), prepared with stacks of papers;

Two crotales

Two pianos

Composed in: 2011

Duration: 15 minutes

Commissioned by: n/a

Première

January 27, 2012

Yarn/Wire

DiMenna Center for the Arts, New York

Listen
Yarn/Wire
January 27, 2012

Additional Information

Trame is a French word for “woof,” or “weft,” term that has strong connotations with the act of weaving. Exploring the compositional analogies of textiles has been one of my interests in the recent works of mine, and this work is no exception to this. Tréma “ ¨ ”is one of French accents that, when applied to a vowel, separates the two consecutive vowels so that they are pronounced individually (e.g. naïve). I interpreted this particular linguistic notion as a “splitting of a unity,” or “uncovering a duality within a singularity.” Thus it bears more philosophical connotations for me.

[…] Ce qui oblige à l’approfondissement du rationnel est aussi ce qui nourrit l’irrationnel de l’exploitation hiérarchique et de la répression. […]

[…] What requires the enrichment of the rationality is also what nourishes the irrationality of hierarchic exploitation and repression […]

– Guy Debord, La Société du Spectacle, Thesis 72

Tréma/Trame I was written in the fall of 2011, for Yarn/Wire.

 

Départ dans… (2010)
for five players

Information

Formation: 5 players

Instrumentation: Oboe (doubles with English Horn), Viola, Violoncello, Two Harps

Composed in: 2010, revised in 2013

Duration: 12 minutes

Commissioned by: Takefu International Music Festival

Première

September 11, 2010

Farfelle Harp Duo, Next Mushroom Promotion

Seitaro Ishikawa, cond.

Echizen-Shi Cultural Center (Fukui, Japan)

Listen
Nieuw Ensemble
Yoshiaki Onishi. cond.
January 16, 2014

Additional Information

Winner, Gaudeamus Prize 2011

I consider Départ dans… as an inquiry into how one can look at textiles; as a global, woven fabric, filled with changes of patterns, or as a collection of microscopic threads, complementing one another to create new colors. Thus the word textile evokes one of my key concerns in composing – the control of structure in various levels, from the note-to-note level to the overall form of the piece.

The piece undergoes two main regions of opposing character on the surface level. I feel the word “region” is appropriate, as it does not necessarily force listeners to put themselves on a certain path of listening. As one can see textiles either globally or microscopically, listeners can also decide what element(s) of the piece to focus on, thereby discovering their own paths within the regions. Or the regions themselves become the path.

Départ dans… was commissioned by the Takefu International Music Festival in Japan in 2010, and premièred in September of that year at the festival. I would like to thank Toshio Hosokawa, who had originally suggested and encouraged me to write a piece for the festival.

 

Culs-de-sac (en passacaille) (2009, rev. 2010)
for string quartet

Information

Formation: String Quartet

Composed in: 2009, rev. 2010

Duration: 15 minutes

Commissioned by: n/a

Première

March 1, 2009

JACK Quartet

Tenri Cultural Center (New York, NY)

Listen
JACK Quartet
July 23, 2010

Additional Information

Dedicated to JACK Quartet and the composer’s father, on his 65th birthday.

 

Tu n'y trouveras que du vent II (2008)
for three gagaku instruments

Information

Formation: Trio

Instrumentation: Hichiriki, Ryûteki, Shô

Composed in: 2008

Duration: 10 minutes

Commissioned by: Mayumi Miyata and Institute of Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia University

Première

February 12, 2009

Hitomi Nakamura, hichiriki

Takeshi Sasamoto, ryûteki

Remi Miura, shô

Low Library Rotunda, Columbia University

Listen

Hitomi Nakamura, hichiriki

Takeshi Sasamoto, ryûteki

Remi Miura, shô

February 12, 2009

Additional Information

The title “Tu n’y trouveras que du vent” (There you will only find the wind) is taken from the text entitled Le Courtisan Grotesque (The Grotesque Courtier), written by an esoteric seventeenth-century French writer, Adrien de Montluc. This text is known as Joan Miró crerated a series of illustrations to be accompanied to the text in 1974.

 

The text is written in old French, and it is very difficult to fully understand it as there are a lot of word plays and symbolisms, something that must have triggered Miró’s interest because of his proclivity towards surrealism that seems to go side-by-side with the sixteenth-century text. At what is presumably the ending portion of the text, de Montluc depicts the end of life of this “courtisan”:

 

C’y gist un courtisan grotesque

un fantosme godelures que

fils du mensonge décevant

il vesquit sans corps & sans ame

passant regarde sous la lame

Tu n’y trouveras que du vent

 

There lies the grotesque courtier

a dandy phantom,

a son of the disappointing lie

he lived without body and without soul

Passer-by, look below the blade

There you will only find the wind

 
 
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