In a Bamboo Grove (2017) by Kai-Young Chan (UK, 1989)
Commissioned by the VIPA Festival for the Mivos Quartet
Premiered July 7, 2017 in Valencia, Spain
Recording Engineer: Jason Thorpe Buchanan
Mixed by Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie
PROGRAM NOTES & BIO:
In a Bamboo Grove, or “Yabu no Naka”, takes inspiration from Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short story of the same name (on which Akira Kurosawa based his classic film Rashomon). The story consists of varying accounts of a murder case that took place in a bamboo grove. Each statement – from the murderer, the dead warrior (through a shaman), the warrior’s wife, and others – has both complementary and contradicting information, simultaneously clarifying and obscuring what actually took place in the grove. Either some witnesses are lying, or the truth is deformed as it propagates through the bamboo grove, a labyrinth where brightness is in constant shift with darkness, and clarity with obscurity.
It is not my intention to create a programmatic piece of the murder case; rather, I have borrowed the story’s mode of narration: varying accounts of the same kernel idea. The “truth” obscured by the grove in my piece is a harmonic canvas that unfolds and restarts with changing speed and shuffling characters of parameters in different sections, where one could find solid, expressive lines juxtaposed with pointillistic shimmering, as well as musical shapes and gestures recast at in various forms and scope.
Kai-Young Chan is drawn to assimilating the musicality of ancient Chinese literature in his works, which are performed worldwide by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, PRISM Quartet, Daedalus Quartet, among other prominent performers. His music is featured on international stages, including ISCM World New Music Days Days, International Rostrum of Composer, International Forum of New Music in Mexico, soundSCAPE festival.org, and Internationalen Ferienkurse Darmstadt. He was part of the first artist delegation of the American Composers Forum to the Havana Contemporary Music Festival in Cuba, a historic tour documented by the National Public Radio. Chan’s works are released on Ablaze, Navona, and Innova Records, with scores published by Editions Peters (London). After earning a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with Jay Reise, James Primosch, and Anna Weesner, he joined the composition faculty at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
- Contemporary Concert Music