Forbidden Circles

Chamber Music
for soprano, shakuhachi, shamisen, 17-string koto, taiko


Forbidden Circles is a chamber work for voice and Japanese instruments with text by Mutsuo Takahashi.

Program Notes
In Forbidden Circles, I go beyond the circles of convention to investigate the forbidden. I am a Chinese American composer yet I write for Japanese musical instruments. The work is for hogaku ensemble yet is recently composed. The text is from a male perspective yet a female vocalist performs the songs. The Japanese poet Mutsuo Takahashi inspired the lyrics, yet his ideas are translated to and sung in English.

The contradictions abound yet provide the conceptual grounding for this work. The soprano chants a litany of Japanese vocal styles combined with outbursts from Takahashi's realizations of sexual longing to reach a place that reflects my everyday existence as a global citizen caught between cultures.
Byron Au Yong

Duration: 6 minutes
Premiered at the Fukuoka Gendai Hogaku Festival, Acros Theatre in Japan, 2002
Performed by Ora-J at the International House of Japan in Tokyo, 2006

Dedicated to intercultural collaboration, Byron Au Yong composes songs of dislocation, music for a changing world. He teaches in Performing Arts & Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.

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