jeux enjeux

for brass quintet (2022)


2tpt, hn, tbn, tba
Commissioned by:
Klangwerkstatt Berlin

Publication coming soon...


The French words jeux (“play, gambling”) and enjeux (“stakes, issues, risks”) have always had a special place in my mind, perhaps because not only do they share the same cognate jeu, but also they represent the very compositional issues I have always grappled with. Namely, on one hand, I ask a question of ways I could construct compositional structures that are logically sound (something I think about as I think of the word enjeux), and on the other hand, I ask a question of ways I could interact with such compositional structures (something I think about with the word jeux).

For the past few years my compositional output has been relatively few, and I have observed that I have felt more at home creating enjeux and somehow, I became afraid of the act of jeux. “Live a little,” as an English idiom goes, but it is almost as though I forgot how to do that in the praxis of composition. I have yet to conclude whether it was the pandemics that brought about this tendency, or it was something psychological that was latent even before the pandemics started. It is a question of whether I can regain what seemed to be a natural process of composing from my past, or I must find a newly natural compositional process in the era of “new normal.”

This piece traces my process of restoring, or re-finding the balance between the two compositional modes, enjeux (things that are structurally rigorously calculated), and jeux (things that attempt to deviate from such enjeux). In this sense, it is a very confessional piece. However, taken in a broader sense, it deals with the relationship between rigor and freedom. Facing with what appears to be the “freedom,” I also ask if there is such a thing as “freedom,” or what “freedom” might look like.

jeux enjeux is commissioned by the Klangwerkstatt Berlin Festival for Ensemble Apparat. Many thanks are due to the musicians of the ensemble, to whom the work is dedicated, Michelle Lou, and Stefan Beyer for their encouragement, as well as Santiago Beis with whom I have played electroacoustic improvisations over the past year which helped me regain and even widen my perspectives on jeux. And in memoriam Toshi Ichiyanagi, Japanese composer whose graphic scores in the 1960’s have in part addressed many of these issues, both from compositional and interpretive standpoints. It is now my turn to humbly take up on the task of confronting with them.


Performance History

11/06/2022 WP
Ensemble Apparat
Kunstquartier Bethanien, Studio 1
Klangwerkstatt Berlin Festival für Neue Musik

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