Saturday, November 12, 2011

Regrouping again :)

Long hiatus since July.  I just had a very busy fall season, constantly feeling like a hamster in a wheel :)  Now I am finally having to sleep normally, regrouping, think and listen again, without constant crises and pressure one after another.  It is a VERY welcome and much needed state of mind :)

I realize my last post was July, when I came back from Japan.   The editor of STRINGS magazine, Greg Olwell, read my previous post about my visit to Japan, especially concerning teaching and meeting with Japanese students in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and asked me to contribute to the STRINGS magazine blog, which they called "Music as Medicine".

In the fall, I had two big new works premieres.   One is a commission from Harvestworks, an interactive audio video work with Japanese movie director and media artist, Tomoyuki Kato.  I met him through his brother, Prof. Kazuhiko Kato, a renown computer science professor at Tsukuba University in Japan.  He came to my lecture in July there, and over the internet, he introduced me to his brother.  Mr. Tomoyuki Kato is widely known for his stunning visuals and designs expos, industrial presentations, and theme parks.  My new work is called Eigenspace, using work that I did this summer with Nicolas Rasamimanana at IRCAM, using "eigenvalue" of the bowing movements.  It is related to kind of inertia of the movements my bowing and musical expression generate.  It is a new mode of interaction for me, which I am now exploring intensively. Mr. Kato also uploaded his "director's cut" version on YouTube; it shows a bit of rehearsal images of the project. Eigenspace was premiered at Roulette in Brooklyn, and we are planning on expanding it to an evening-long event in the future.

Another big project for me this fall was a commission from the Cassatt String Quartet (through the generous support of the Fromm Foundation Award), "I-Quadrifoglio" for string quartet and interactive computer.  The picture here is the Cassatt Quartet rehearsing "I-Quadrifoglio".  I so wished that I had chronicled my compositional process and progress.  This is my first composition in recent years, which I was not involved as a performer myself; I had to notate my musical intentions very clearly, which I have become complacent with, since I have been writing for myself most of the time.  For the four string players of Cassatt, I was conceited that I, a violinist myself, know what I wrote and what I mean.  It was only when I was confronted with all kinds of musical questions regarding articulations and expressions (for example "what do you mean by an accent with a dot, is this stronger or shorter than the... " etc) I realized how much I didn't know.  This was a going-back-to-school experience for me, which I am very grateful to have the most patient and generous teachers as the Cassatt Quartet!  The premiere was at the Symphony Space, and there was a pre-concert cocktail/interview along with other composers on the program, venerable Judith Shatin and Sebastian Currier, both master composers.  Although I felt a little intimidated :)  I very much enjoyed that it was the very first time I could actually enjoy a glass of wine just before my performance, since I'm NOT playing! In this picture I'm setting their computer up just before the performance.  It is a totally hands-free, no click-track or foot-pedal used, interactive composition, which fortunately didn't fail at the performance!  I'm so humbled that this is my first string quartet ever, and I was fortunate enough to be given this opportunity.

A week after the "I-Quadrifoglio" premiere, I left for Beijing, China for the first time, to participate in Musicacoustica Festival, invited by French composer and organizer of TIMI Modern Music Ensemble's director, Benoit Granier.  I returned on October 31st, followed by family obligations and some grant proposal deadlines.  Now that I have a bit of breathing time, I am planning a "Beijing mega-post" and photos in the coming few days :)  Or so I promise!

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