Sunday, June 19, 2011

Shanghai, China March 1-June 19 Week 15

I don’t have very much to report this week about anything new I experienced in Shanghai. Since I was plagued with air pollution sickness, food poisoning, and culture shock during my first two months in Shanghai, these last few weeks have become a mad rush to finish up a number of composition projects. The reason why I’m in such a hurry? The deadlines are self-imposed actually. Some of these compositions could be finished and send off a month from now and there would probably still leave enough time to prepare them for performance. However, when I go to Korea I anticipate being very busy with the workshop, conference, and kayagum lessons and not have access to a keyboard so composing will be very difficult.
This past week I concentrated on composing the two pieces discussed in detail in the previous blog entry: 1) A commission from the Ernest Bloch Handbell Choir and Anchor Bay Children’s Choir that will also include a solo shakuhachi based on Tanikawa Shuntarô’s poem entitled “Homework.” 2)  A trio for for soprano, 25-string koto, and shakuhachi (2.1, pitched in B) based on the a contemporary noh-inspired poem entitled 光を花と散らす(Scattering light, scattering flowers) written by Haruka (Saori) Nakanishi.
“Homework” came much faster than “Scattering light, scattering flowers.” I finished it on Saturday, June 12th, in less than a week. It was challenging composing for the handbells. I didn’t have very much in the way of compositional models besides some scores that the handbell choir director sent me. Using a combination of the textures found in these scores fused with my harmonic language, somehow I was able to produce a shimmering accompaniment to this profound text. It will be premiered on October 30th in Gualala, CA and I’m very excited.

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