Choral Work
for 24 moving voices

“... elegantly mingles folk elements with theatrical staging.”
~Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, music & movement
Aaron Jafferis, English lyrics
Lao Tzu, Chinese lyrics

Duration 6 minutes
Commissioned  and premiered by The Esoterics
2005 Premiere in Everett, Medina, Seattle, Tacoma
Support from Meet the Composer, National Endowment for the Arts

Performed by The Esoterics: Andrew Oakley, Bayta Maring, Betsy Baeskens, Bill Falconer, Bruce Weber, Curtis Man, Dan Luethy, Doug Rank (soloist), Erin Harlan, Jeremy Porter, Jessica Spears, Karen Lindenberg, Karyn Schwartz, Kathea Yarnell, Kristen Ramer, Lorri Frogget, Mary Wieneke, Matthew Keri, Meredith Burness (soloist), Michael Seidel, Penny Cramer, Reidar Dittmann, Sam Beckert, Theo Yaung; conducted by Eric Banks


Program Notes
“To yield is to preserve unity.”

The opening line of Byron Au Yong’s Surrender encapsulates the message and experience of his work. As the text, music, and movement weave together in performance, one feels viscerally the essential truth that to resist, defend, or insist is to enter more deeply into struggle. In a time so beset with aggression, anxiety, and violence, it is a great joy to be reminded of the wisdom in surrendering: to the unknown, the unassuming, to the collective gesture of creativity and imagination.

The meditative state that this piece evokes and requires holds us in such a gesture - drawing energy into itself, and then surrendering just as fluidly, as a prayer for possibility and for peace.

~Karen Schwartz, The Esoterics

Composer Notes
As an American in a time of discord, I challenge myself to untangle the complexities, hear the outrage, accept the justifications, recognize the fear, embrace the sorrow, and acknowledge the denial of war, because I am descended from survivors of involuntary migration. My grandparents fled Japanese imperialist aggression during World War II. I am touched by their hardships as well as ceremonies of healing.

Surrender combines singing with tai qi to reach a state filled with strength and compassion, so I can continue to be engaged with my country at war. I use text from the Dao De Jing because of the potential for transformation contained in the Chinese ideograms of Verse 22, by Lao Tzu. These include the character images for missing, confused heart, hands pull apart, sun disappears, claws, chopping sound, crimes of the mouths, and plants rise from the ground.

With the help of hip hop poet Aaron Jafferis, I merge Mandarin and English texts. The tai qi movements and vocals for Surrender are forever mindful of taking the next step.

~Byron Au Yong

Press Quotes
“He first worshipped Bach and Chopin, but gradually switched — from piano to percussion, from reverence to questioning and from one cultural source to a melange.”
~Jen Graves, The News Tribune

“... meditative music without the mush and just a hint of muscle.”
~Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger


score available at Bandcamp