1) Lullaby of the Waves
We are living in a world of many tragic events, whether from war, terrorism or other causes, and it is especially heartbreaking when the victims are young. I would like to dedicate my music to comfort and support the young lost souls and their families. Over the past year, several events in particular symbolize this theme of loss.
The first was the Sewol Ferry disaster in April 2014 that claimed the lives of over 250 high school students in Korea. Last month, Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed in the Alps, taking the lives of all 150 passengers, including many high school exchange students. Also, in the same month, terrorists in Kenya killed 147 people, mostly college students. “Waves” in the title is a metaphor for those lost in the sea and the sky and also for the way their loss impacts our lives. This piece has three sections: the first “Elegy”, begins with a lyrical melody which resembles a traditional Korean singing style as it comforts the lost souls. The melodic line moves like waves and incorporates rhythmic music that represents the vibrant lives of the young victims; the second, “Lullaby”, includes a famous Korean lullaby (Sum-Jib A-gi translated into A Baby in a Seashore Cottage) in which a baby falls asleep listening to the waves and winds while the mother (a hae-nyeo, female diver) went to collect oysters in the sea; and the third, “Hope” is a compilation of musical elements representing the foundation of our hope for overcoming the waves of grief, and ends with a humming sound produced by high notes of violins which represents a child’s happy and relaxed way of humming.
2) Heroes for orchestra
Heroes was inspired by an uplifting Korean folk song called Arirang Mok-Dong, which is translated as Shepherd Arirang. This folk song is usually heard most sporting events to encourage the players and fans. There are several meanings to the term “Arirang”, such as the longing of a lover, echoes, or joy in understanding the meaning of life. Musically, Heroes uses a refrain from the folk song, Arirang Mok-Dong. In the beginning, several lyrical melodies are played by different instruments to prepare the main folk tune. After the introduction, the main tune of Shepherd Arirang enters, and the melody develops throughout the piece in various ways as a mono-thematic element to convey the uplifting of spirits.
3) Tiger Chasing the Wind(1996) -In Memory of Isang Yun
Duration: circa 11 minutes
Flute (doubling Alto Flute in G)
Tiger Chasing the Wind was written in memory of Isang Yun (1917-1995), a Korean composer who was exiled by the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) in 1969, after the R.O.K. imposed a death sentence on him for allegedly traitorous activity in communist North Korea. The title, “Tiger Chasing the Wind”, represents Isang Yun’s relationship to Korea and his inability to return his homeland. The tiger is a symbol of Korea, yet here it represents Isang Yun. One can imagine a tiger, graceful and powerful, hopelessly attempting to catch the wind. In such a chase, the tiger’s formidable skills are useless; just as Isang Yun’s talent and love for his country proved useless in his attempt to return.
The piece has seven sections. The first section is an introduction by a solistic, slow alto flute line. The second section has a powerful entrance by the cello’s chordal glissandi with harp accompaniment. The third section begins with the cello’s pizzicato which soon supports the flute’s melody with many grace notes. This section ends with a harp quasi-arpeggio. The fourth section is harp dominated, which produces a spacious sound in slow tempo. The fifth section has a powerful duet character which alternately pairs the cello and harp, flute and cello, and returns to the cello and harp. The sixth section begins with flute and cello doubling with harp accompaniment, and goes to the climax in the seventh section. The seventh section is an epilogue which has the harp’s fingernail glissandi, cello’s harmonic glissandi, and the alto flute line.
It is recorded by Koch International.
4) Opera from My Mother's Mother, Scene 5, aria
It explores what we embrace and what we leave behind as we merge our traditions with others in a new country, using a new language, sometimes with our own new family. The story is about passing down and rejection of the tradition through four generations of Korean-American women living in the US.
This was commissioned by the Silk Road Ensemble which is led by Yo-Yo Ma. I was inspired by poems written in c.a. 1591 by Jung Chul (1536-1593) and Chin Ok. Mr. Jung was a famous scholar and writer who was in exile and living in a small village, Kang-Gye, when he wrote this poem. Ms. Chin was a kisaeng, a combination of professional entertainer, performing artist, and courtesan. His name means "pure iron" while her name means "true jade."
One night suddenly Ms. Chin interrupted Mr. Jung. She introduced herself, told Mr. Jung that she admired his literature and that she would like to share her passion for the arts with him. After she performed Kayagum for him, he asked her to respond to a short poem that he had written:
Jade, we were told; jade had arrived again.Sure, I remembered fake jade,But your close, cold surface told me jade, Again that was pure and real. This time I will use a skin awl, bellows Of such breath you will be thrusted.
After his poem, she responded immediately with this poem:
Iron, we were told; iron had arrived again. Sure, I remember brittle pig iron, But your close, cold surface told me iron, Again that was hammered and annealed. This time I will use a furnace of earth, bellows Of such breath you will not withstand the fire.
We are sure that they tested their instruments very well all night. In this piece the cello represents Mr. Jung (Yang), the kayagum Ms. Chin (Ying), while the oboe is a mediator. Musically it consists of 5 sections, and each has its own characteristic color and atmosphere to mesh with those natural materials. These instruments sometimes play their own strong characteristic way as well as imitate each other to develop musically. The kayagum player performs the instrument and later sings in Korean traditional style. Rhythmically this piece uses several Korean Jang-Dan (rhythmic patterns) such as Sal-Puri (3+3+2+2+2), Ut-Mori (3+2+3+2), and Dong-Sal Puri (4/4).