Showing posts with label 3Seasons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3Seasons. Show all posts

3Seasons reSet

Last night, a loud, gutter-gurgling rain kept me awake. Is it too much to ask for sun in late June? Farmer Brendan planted only six tomato plants leaving the other six in pots saying that it's not worth having stunted plants with green tomatos later this season. I smell the damp earth and think of 3Seasons reSet playing tonight and tomorrow at Intiman Theatre in Seattle.
photo by Kim & Adam Bamberg (
3Seasons premiered at On the Boards in January 2010. Since then, choreographer Olivier Wevers and his company Whim W'Him have refined their repertoire with works such as Monster. Returning to 3Seasons (an adaptation of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons), I notice that Olivier has a greater attentiveness to details. Props are more carefully placed, movements are more precise and transitions are more deliberate. For the music, I have refined the instrumentation to violin + soundtrack. Crowding the performance with extraneous instruments is like planting too many tomatos.

Victoria Brown wrote a perceptive:
... the music has undergone the greatest change. In the present iteration of 3Seasons, only Autumn employs the new music of Byron, which has been both drawn in and expanded. Instead of violin, percussion, toy piano and electronic sounds, the composition is now pared down to a single violin heard against a city soundscape of cars and an electronic hum.

In performance the violin will be played by much the praised and prized Michael Jinsoo Lim (Pacific Northwest Ballet concertmaster and co-founder of the Corigliano Quartet). The first movement of Byron’s new Autumn has a jumbled sound. Vivaldi comes in only in snatches, as real music and… as a cell phone ring tone. It’s a 21st century landscape, of timid trust in an unimaginable future warring against barely suppressed chaos and despair. There is, as Byron says, a clear sense of something missing.

Yet for me at least, this apprehension of loss changes as the season unrolls. Last week, after re-observing his bleak take on the Vivaldi Winter (that ends his ballet), I said to Olivier, “This sure doesn’t finish on any note of redemption, does it?" to which he assented. But yesterday, watching the season that preceeds it, I felt an unexpectedly different note in Autumn’s final movement.

By this time, the clutter and static of the earlier sections of Byron’s soundscape are burned away. The violin plays on alone, its sound harsh, seer, but purified, clean. As if, out of the dross that we’ve made from our world, one clear, authentic, silver voice has been refined— or might be. Perhaps this line of music represents another chance for the human race, a sounder basis for a better, more sustainable and earth-centric future. Whether we can save ourselves and our world, or if the centuries to come hold only the peace of cessation, is still, of course, obscure and will remain so well beyond our time. I might be talking through my hat, but ever optimistic, I asked Byron after rehearsal, “Is Autumn maybe where hope creeps into 3Seasons?”

His answer was a broad, if enigmatic, grin.
Read more of Victoria's insightful thoughts about the revised 3Seasons with photos from La Vie Photography at Whim W'Him's blog.

3Seasons ReSet

It’s not too late to get tickets for Whim W’Him’s ReSet:

June 24 & 25, 2011, 8pm

Intiman Theatre
201 Mercer Street
Seattle WA 98109
    I compose new Autumn music for 3Seasons – a work inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons — to be performed by violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim + soundtrack. Along with choreography by Olivier Wevers, performances by Whim W’Him’s dancers, costumes by Michael Cepress and lighting by Michael Mazolla. Moreover, 3Seasons includes new cardboard sets by Casey Curran.

    Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Chives

    My mind wanders as I take a break in the vegetable patch. I am stuck trying to finish music for 3Seasons.

    The herb box contains flowering chives and thick sage leaves bring me outside where waving neighbors bicycle along saying that they love the garden. I feel the hesitant Seattle sun mixed with rain sprinkle an encouraging nod towards me tending the vegetable patch. My mind works through sound bytes and starts to weave sonic textures as I weed and prune, transplant and mulch, water and taste.

    Tending edibles finds a parallel with composing music. Both take time, patience and the willingness to let go and be surprised.

    Plants have their own ways of growing. By paying attention to the parsley, sage, rosemary and chives, my time as a composer is renewed where I can return to composing music refreshed and confident.

    3Seasons Music Insights

    Check out Victoria Brown’s insightful post about the music for 3Seasons premiered by Whim W’him at On the Boards last month. Brown’s thoughts encourage me, especially the idea that in fiction there is a suspicion of stories that have “too happy an ending.”

    I am grateful that she recognizes how the “unnerving” and “weird” new music fits the uncomfortable intent of 3Seasons. The performance brings the dancers and audience closer together through the state of missing the recognizable comfort of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

    Brown’s post is enlivened by photographs by Kim and Adam Bamberg of La Vie Photography. I am fond of this image where Jim Kent plays the violin with a birdcage on his head during the second section of Autumn.

    3Seasons Musicians

    Tiffany Lin's gold toy piano

    3Seasons premieres at On the Boards January 15-17. Friday night's performance is already sold-out. The musicians include Quinton Morris (violin), Tiffany Lin (cello/toy piano), and Stuart McLeod (percussion/electronics).

    3Seasons is prompted by Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and high heels. Whim W'Him dancer Jim Kent will play violin during special moments, that is, when he doesn't have a birdcage on his head.

    Here is a more about the musicians:

    Quinton Morris attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Boston Conservatory, and the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in violin performance. Morris is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Chamber and Instrumental Music at Seattle University.

    Piano player and toy pianist Tiffany Lin has been sitting at the keyboard fumbling for the right notes since 1986. Tiflin studied at CalArts with Peter Miyamoto, Leroy Jenkins, and Wadada Leo Smith. Lin holds a Bachelors from Cornish College of the Arts where she studied with Laura Kaminsky and Oksana Ezhokina.

    Stuart McLeod holds a degree in Music Composition from the University of Washington, where he studied with Richard Karpen, William O. Smith, and Kenneth Benshoof, as well as percussion with Tom Collier and Michael Crusoe. He leads the experimental group SIL2K and plays drums with the instrumental rock band TRANSPACIFIC.

    Unclogging Gutters

    As I clear autumn leaves from clogging the sewer drain outside my home, I am reminded of all the music-making that needs to happen in preparation for Three Seasons to premiere at On the Boards in mid-January 2010:
    • Finish my musical analysis of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
    • Meet with Stuart McLeod to figure out an amplified percussion set-up that can appear and disappear seamlessly with the dance
    • Touch base with choreographer Olivier Wevers
    Even though it is much more fun to gather leaves in the rain and hang out with the chickens, I know that once I start transferring my sketches and connecting with collaborators, my figurative clogged gutter will flow with musical creativity.

    Tristan Uhl recently wrote about the Whim W'him launch where a Three Seasons musical sketch presented:
    For Whim W’Him’s debut production Olivier has chosen to address not only the unpredictability and fragility of our lives but also, the changing of the seasons. The title for the debut is Three Seasons — an apt beginning for a project that thrives on unpredictability.

    The piece has been scored Composer Byron Au Yong, who has created a profoundly moving and modern interpretation of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. The musical instruments used almost confront nature with man by melding sounds including but not limited to, a violin, the rhythmic rustling of leaves and — my favorite — a high heel. The overall effect makes it hard to distinguish the traditional instruments from the more novel ones. has the full article plus photos. Thanks for the nice write-up. High heels are my new favorite instrument too.

    Music with light bulbs and leaves

    Last Saturday, Whim W'Him held a benefit for the launch of Olivier Wever's new company. The debut work, to be premiered at On the Boards in January 2010, will be the Three Seasons prompted by Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

    I've been sketching ideas drawn from Vivaldi's use of musical gestures. His phrases for violin and strings represent birds, thunder, and other sounds heard in nature. This prompts me to think about the nature of "nature."

    Each of Olivier's nine dancers have an object they cannot live without. These include high heels, pillows, and light bulbs. I wonder if these factory-produced items affect a listener's notions of what is natural.
    • How do man-made and nature sounds inhabit the world?
    • In the Digital Age, is the notion of nature broadened?
    • What is the sound of light bulbs with leaves?
    The music was created in collaboration with Sebastian Lange on amplified/processed violin, and percussionists Stuart McLeod and James Whetzel on amplified leaves, water bowl, pillows, high heels, water phone and light bulbs.
    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.

    Byron Au Yong & Christopher Yohmei Blasdel: BreathPlay

    Byron Au Yong: Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas
    Kidnapping Water:
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    Byron Au Yong: Yiju
    YIJU 移居