Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Mo Sheng 墨声 Ink Sound

Chamber Music/Exhibition Performance
for string quartet

Mò Shēng 墨声 Ink Sound relates the simplicity and density of sound to the amount of ink on a brush. The string quartet plays with a calligraphic impulse, inspired by Pan Gongkai’s Exhibition.

Trailer Video

Duration: variable (circa 18 minutes)
Instrumentation: two violins, viola, cello
Premiered by the Passenger String Quartet
Commissioned by the Frye Art Museum

Program Notes
Mò Shēng 墨声 Ink Sound was created was created and performed on the occasion of the Frye Art Museum’s exhibition 潘公凯 Pan Gongkai: Withered Lotus Cast in Iron.

A contemporary master of Chinese ink painting and president of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Pan creates large-scale, site-specific ink paintings without interruption, in sessions that often last more than 12 hours. He views this physically demanding process as a key performative element of his work. This is the first exhibition of Pan’s art in the United States.

As a Chinese American composer based in Seattle, Au Yong has a complex relationship with China. His new music translates Pan’s Exhibition to evoke a local resonance. The music will be premiered by the Passenger String Quartet in the Frye Art Museum galleries.

Musicians use techniques that vary the bowing pressure, similar to the textures of ink density that respond to both Pan’s art as well as the exhibition environment through the shifting spatial placement of the musicians. Au Yong’s notation contains precise musical gestures that can be read in any order by the string quartet, similar to how an ink brush painting can be experienced.
Audience Quotes
“While listening, I was in another world. Felt like I could “touch” the sound.”

“The interplay of the instruments/parts was particularly gratifying.”

“I was able to see and hear Pan Gongkai differently.”


Mò Shēng 墨声 Ink Sound was commissioned by the Frye Art Museum and funded by the Frye Foundation with the support of Frye Art Museum members and donors. Seasonal support is provided by Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and ArtsFund. Music was composed for the Passenger String Quartet to perform on the occasion of the exhibition 潘公凯 Pan Gongkai: Withered Lotus Cast in Iron, curated by Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker. The score was completed during a residency at the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

· Pan Gongkai: Withered Lotus Cast in Iron at Frye Art Museum
· Pan Gongkai: Dispersion and Generation at Zhejiang Art Museum

The Orphan of Zhao

Rehearsals started earlier this week for The Orphan of Zhao (趙氏孤兒). Here's the sign on our rehearsal room. The ensemble songs are definitely not quiet!

The new production runs at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, from June 4 - 29, 2014, and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, from July 8 - August 3, 2014. Here's the trailer...

Inspired by Palindrome Poems

On the bottom right corner of every Occupy Orchestra 無量園 Infinity Garden page, find a quote from composer John Cage. I modeled the score to feel similar to Chinese landscape paintings that include calligraphy inscriptions. There are 17 Cage quotes + one Occupy Wall Street quote.
Occupy Orchestra 無量園 Infinity Garden, a page from the score
Additionally, the score draws inspiration from huiwen shi (回文诗) palindrome poems. Su Hui (苏蕙), a poet from the 4th century, innovated this type of poetry. Characters can be read vertically, horizontally, forwards, backwards & diagonally. Especially significant is her Xuanji Tu (璇玑图) armillary-sphere map. Using five colors of silk thread, she embroidered 841 Chinese characters into a 29 x 29 grid to create lines of poetry that can be read in any direction for a total of 2,848 poems!

Su Hui's Xuanji Tu
The Cage quotes on the score follow this idea adapted to English. The text is scattered to allow the eye to read non-linearly and savor the puzzle-like relationship between individual words. Cage opens up the space between words in some of his text such as Lecture on Nothing. I decided to open up all the text for the score.

Below are the inscriptions included in Occupy Orchestra 無量園 Infinity Garden. See the score for the scattered text version.
what is it that
is not just beautiful but also
ugly, not just good, but also
evil, not just true, but also
an illusion ?

John Cage, Lecture on Something (1959)

questions .

John Cage, David Cope interview (1980)

nothing .

John Cage, Lecture on Something (1959)

Not one sound fears
the silence
that ex-tinguishes it.
And no silence exists
that is not pregnant
with sound.

John Cage, Lecture on Something (1959)

Wherever we are,
what we hear is mostly noise.
When we ignore it,
it disturbs us,
when we listen to it,
we find it fascinating.

John Cage, The Future of Music: Credo (1937)

be honored
rather than
enslaved .

John Cage, Joseph Mazo interview (1983)

Being involved
in the complexities of a nation
at war
and a city in business-as-usual
led me to know
that there is a
difference between
large things
and small things,
big organizations
and two people alone
in a room together.

John Cage, A Composer's Confessions (1948)

It is not irritating to be where one is .
It is only irritating
to think one would like
to be somewhere else.

John Cage, Lecture on Nothing (1959)

As I
older I
interested in
almost anything
that comes to my attention.

John Cage, Charles Atlas documentary (1983)

I deduced that we were in a
Tower of Babel situation
because no one was understanding
anybody else ;
for instance, I wrote
a sad piece
and people hearing it

John Cage, Paul Cummings interview (1974)

True discipline is
not learned
in order
to give it up ,
but rather in order
to give oneself up .

John Cage, Richard Kostelanetz interview (1970)

My feeling was that beauty
yet remains in intimate situations;
that it is quite hopeless
to think and act
impressively in
public terms.

John Cage, A Composer's Confessions (1948)

All you need is to be intelligent...
to know how to distinguish those
aspects of existence in which there is,
in an obvious way, good and evil,
and to go in the direction of the good.

John Cage, Daniel Charles interview (1968-1978)

produce a movement
upwards into the air -- the
space, the silence,
the nothing that supports us .

John Cage, Lecture on Something (1959)

affirm this life,
not to bring
order out of chaos
nor to suggest improvements
in creation,
but simply to wake up
to the very life we're living .

John Cage, Four Statements on the Dance (1956)

At every point society acts
to keep you from doing
what you have to do.

John Cage, Moira & William Roth interview (1973)

Everybody has a song
which is no song at all :
it is a process of singing ,
and when you sing ,
you are where you are .

John Cage, Lecture on Nothing (1959)

To the people of the world...
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble;
occupy public space; create a process to address
the problems we face, and generate solutions
accessible to everyone.

Occupy Wall Street (2011)

24 City

Sometimes, one scene makes an entire show click. In 24 City, this moment for me was when a buyer for wealthy ladies in Chengdu, China acknowledges that she will survive because she is the daughter of factory workers. Born in the 1980s, Zhao Tao is one of the final characters we meet in this poetic take on how China is shifting.

24 City focuses on stories from three generations of residents in an area formerly known as Factory 420. In a subtle mix of documentary and fiction film-making, director Jia Zhang-ke handles his subjects carefully, akin to a portrait artist, focusing on memories of migration and the lines around the lips. Quotes from Irish writer W.B. Yeats along with music from Chinese red songs, orchestral strings and Japanese enka add to this peculiar yet strangely comforting film about the transition of an aeronautical factory into a luxury high-rise complex.

As I watched the film, I thought of the stories buildings contain. Once these places are demolished, do memories become rubble to be swept away?

Movie Trailer

Go to Hong Kong and Shanghai

The Dragon 100 is an annual program launched in 2002. This year the 100 lucky nominees from around the world go to Hong Kong and Shanghai (!) to meet with government officials, academics, and professionals. Delegates, age 18-35, gather to discuss world issues, explore their Chinese heritage, and reflect upon contemporary China. Additionally, they visit major socio-economic and cultural development projects. Most exciting are action plans garnered from seminars and discussions with university students and young professionals. These ideas provide innovative ways to improve the world through a focus on China.

This year the Dragon 100 Young Chinese Leaders Forum will be held in Hong Kong and Shanghai from 15-22 August 2010. The theme Exploring Shanghai and World Expo -- Building our Future provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to network with future Chinese leaders. I was a delegate in 2006, for In the Footprints of the Dragons -- A Study Tour on the Silk Road (Report PDF).

Being selected by the Dragon Foundation | 龍傳基金 was an incredible honor. I continue to keep in touch with many delegates plus my artistic philosophy and music will forever be influenced by my experience on the 2006 Leadership Forum in Hong Kong and Xi'an.

Nominate an outstanding young Chinese leader by June 15, 2010.
  • Dragon 100 Young Chinese Leaders Forum Poster (PDF)
  • Dragon 100 Young Chinese Leaders Forum Nomination Form (PDF)
Questions? Contact The Dragon Foundation | 龍傳基金

Farewell: a fantastical contemplation on America’s relationship with China

Dance Music
for voices, er-hu, cello, percussion, bicycle wheels, cassette tape players, soundtrack

“... hyper-frenetic sound score by Byron Au Yong.” —CityArts Magazine

Farewell: A Fantastical Contemplation on America’s Relationship with China is a dance-music-theater work created by Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theatre. Composer Byron Au Yong collaborated on this project part of the initiative Beyond Dance: Promoting Awareness and Mutual Understanding.

Audio Excerpts

available at Bandcamp

Creative Team
Donald Byrd, choreographer
Byron Au Yong, composer
Jack Mehler, set/lighting designer
Byron Au Yong, er-hu, voice, drums, soundtrack
Paul Kikuchi, drums, bicycle wheels, cassette
Tiffany Lin, cello, drums, bicycle wheels
Mike Au Yong, Ying Zhou, additional recorded voices
Kelly Ann Barton, Ty Alexander Cheng, Geneva Jenkins, Kylie Lewallen, Vincent Lopez, Amber Nicole Mayberry, Joel Myers, Tory Peil, Patrick Pulkrabek, Marissa Quimby, Mia Monteabaro, Meaghan Sanford, Sarah Poppe, dancers

Duration: 80 minutes
Presented by Spectrum Dance Theatre in partnership with Seattle Theater Group
Premiered at The Moore Theatre in Seattle, February 2010

Press Quotes
“Byron Au Yong, delivers not just a score but a bedlam-filled sound collage.”
—Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
“... his memories of his father’s recollections of playing form a powerful connection to a lost past, and composer Byron Au Yong incorporates them into the score to powerful effect.”
—Jeremy Barker, The Sunbreak 
“The sound is a thick, almost impenetrable thicket, an onslaught you must cut your way through in order to pay the dancers any attention.”
—Marcie Sillman, ArtDish 
“The music alone is well worth it. Melodies are layered with live percussion, speech and bicycle wheels, punctuated by the sounds of the dancers.”
—Kaya P, Teen Tix Blog 
“The instruments Au Yong incorporates include Chinese percussion — drums, symbols and gong; Chinese fiddle; cello; and a bicycle wheel whose spokes are plucked and strummed.”
—Leslie Holleran, Seattle Dances
Read preview articles about Farewell

Farewell International Examiner Preview

Roxanne Ray wrote a preview of Donald Byrd & Spectrum Dance Theatre's upcoming production of Farewell: A Fantastical Contemplation on America’s Relationship with China. I composed the music performed by Paul Kikuchi, Tiffany Lin and me on Chinese percussion, cello, er-hu, bicycle wheels, cassette tape players and recorded soundscape collage. Working with Donald, the 13 dancers and the rest of the Spectrum creative team has been intense and revealing.

Here's an excerpt:
Au Yong brings more than music to this new work, confronting his own questions of freedom and justice. “I have learned that history is full of mistakes and that the media thrives on reporting about injustice,” he says. “My question is, does journalism build a more ethical society? I am suspicious of a veiled subjectivity masquerading as objectivity.” 
In “Farewell,” those explorations are never simple. “The Cultural Revolution ballet quotes cause a visceral reaction of horror and pride in me,” Au Yong says.

Read the original article in the International Examiner.

Snakehead book


Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream is released next week. It already has 21 reviews on I look forward to reading author Patrick Radden Keefe's perspective on undocumented Chinese immigrants as Aaron and I continue work on Stuck Elevator.

Eight Thoughts from the Silk Road

I just published my thoughts from visiting Xi'an, China...
This essay started as an attempt to answer questions about my cultural heritage, yet my relationship with being Chinese continually changes. To definitively codify my identity as "Chinese American" with predetermined sets of cultural characteristics is disingenuous. At times I feel like a scholar, at other times a punk. I am as varied as the musicians I listen to or the authors I read.

With this in mind, I write an essay that attempts to escape the confines of false definitions about being Chinese to enter the ever-expanding space of continued dialogue. Together, we can begin to grasp, if not define, heritage and identity through our commonalities and differences.

This essay jump from place to place. Conclusions contradict. Personal ruminations mix with poems, anecdotes, and asides. Ideas truncate mid-sentence defying completeness. In short, this essay is a mess, at times distasteful, at times elegant, sometimes befuddling, but hopefully clear as a tactic to encapsulate the complexity I feel surrounding my Chinese heritage.
Essay at -->

Thoughts from Xi'an

At the end of August, I had the opportunity to be a delegate for the Dragon 100 in Hong Kong and China. It was amazing to be with so many Chinese leaders from around the world. Thanks to the Wing Luke Asian Museum, Dragon Foundation, and Washington State Arts Commission for their support.

Dragon 100

In the photo above, you can see half my face fifth from the left in the top row to the right of the really tall guy. Below are some of my informal impressions from the experience.
What I eat in a day
could feed 100 people.

What I see in one hour
could inspire 100 lives.

How did I become so lucky
to be descended from a dragon,
to be fed and clothed
with a wooden comb for my black hair?

How can I lift this fork and feel blessed
when children come to my hotel window
hungry ghosts all waiting to be fed?

When my bones are brittle and my breath is cold
acid raindrops from the dark grey sky
beat the drum tower down to red splinters.

I crawl towards a tiny bird
to warm the blood in my veins
with fire from her flapping wings.
11th photo op
of an old man with cigarette
who stares at the camera
while the tea pot bleeds.

His ashes surround two cups --
cracked blue and white porcelain.

Above a Mao jacket
his eyes declaim:
Good morning, Young Dragons.
Zhao an, Xiao Long.
[photo of boy]
Black mat floors
puddle from the water of
pipes hidden above the ceiling
in the archaeology exhibition.

Unable to see
the boy paws
the Plexiglas.

His fumbling prints leave
an indecipherable hieroglyphic.
[photo of luggage]
In the Xi'an airport at midnight
unattended baggage waits
in the empty load/unload zone.

A body becomes the testing ground
for paperwork between countries.
[photo of museum]
Pigs stare quietly
from the holding pen
of the truck.

On the bus
tourists chatter noisily
until one passes out
from the air-con mixed with
the stale taste of pork fat
from breakfast.
[photo of museum pool]
Concrete encased flowers
learn not to cry out.

Just bloom
a pretty purple
fed by sugar water.
[photo of polluted China]
An anthem of love
echoes throughout
the hollow auditorium.

Hands raise a salute
of the mimed cigarette lighters
with sputtering flames.
[photo of terra cotta warriors]
He had one of those faces
I'd only seen in clay.

The clay from 2,000 years ago
dug up from the tomb
of a decomposed emperor.

I reach to touch this face
three seats away
indented to the bone.

Moving closer
I notice that
the smoothness
is pockmarked.

I close my eyes
to decipher this coded braille
pockets of space and time
in the pores of past and present.

Confused like the clay
dug up from a grave.

Confused like the face
struggling to stay alive.

Confused like this boy
with many futures to choose.

Fingers trace the topography of being Chinese
the outer shell of a soul where
eyebrows catch the perspiration,
the flooded field before the flood,
rivulets through the hills
of oil and dust.
[photo of bride]
Red flower
I go towards you
and see curled leaves
above rotted roots.
[photo of cardboard by bride]

I hope you've enjoyed the photos and poetry. The final photos are from the Xi'an Drum Tower. This was my favorite place despite the pollution hovering outside and the odd context of the drums.

[photo of drum and pollution]

[photo of drums]
The "No Smoking" sign tacked to the drum stand is my favorite touch
Here's a close-up

My first trip to China

This July, I visited Xiamen, Fuzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing. This was my first time in mainland China. The first week, I traveled with my grandmother, dad, first uncle and aunt, third uncle, and fourth aunt.

We explored the island city of Xiamen where my grandmother went to boarding school beginning at age 13. Throughout our time there, my 97-year-old grandmother asked, "What are we doing in Hong Kong today?"
[photo of grandmother in Xiamen]

Xiamen had changed since she was young. It was now full of high rises and she was surprised. I was also surprised by China's modernization.

[photo of Wal*Mart]

Here are impressions from Xiamen...
At the seafood restaurant
the rollerskating waitress falls
porcelin shatters surprising the cicadas.
[photo of Xiamen U]
Xiamen University has
music practice rooms
that face the ocean.

A tenor sings Puccini
to the container ships.
[photo of Xiamen]
Luxury accomodations
23 stories high
with an elevator that traps
my screaming grandmother.
Here are photos from Gulangyu, an island that used to bear the sign "no Chinese, no dogs." it was inhabited by foreigners from 13 different countries and had mansions and pianos to rival Europe.

[photo from Gulangyu]
view slideshow in a new window

After Xiamen, my dad returned to Seattle, my other relatives went to Manila. I went on my own to Shanghai. I stayed with two teachers, age 70 and 64.

In this metropolis of 20 million, I'm surprised to see old men wear pajamas on the main tourist drag Nanjing Lu. Children run around naked enjoying the People's Square fountain in the summer heat. Storeowners say "man zou" or walk slowly as the good-bye phrase, so I feel relaxed, even though my feet hurt from walking all day.
Sitting in the history museum
I watch a silent film
projected onto the side of a model T
driven by a wax Englishman.
a Shanghai orphan from the 1920s
looks for work pushing rickshaws.

I watch quietly
until a startled girl jumps
realizing I'm not wax.
[photo of Shanghai]
Isetan near the Ritz
Karen Carpenter sings
every sha na na na
while a violin plays
the Tonight melody
from West Side Story.
This is what the white marble floors echo
footsteps of Shanghai shoppers buying
clothes the price of an airline ticket to Beijing.

[photo of Forbidden City]
view slideshow in a new window

After Shanghai, I went to Beijing. I visited all the main attractions: Tianamen Square, the Forbidden City, Tian Tan, and the Great Wall.

I was very lucky to have Suli, Jessie, and Chen as hosts. They brought me to a retro Mao military bar, a tea house, the conservatory of music, and other places. Still, I was saddened by Beijing, especially the pollution.
Haze of smog
over the capital
the cicadas muffled
from lack of oxygen
accompanied by hand phone gulps
brown water
blurry sky
blossoms taunt pink
as I search for the buddha.

[photo of Starbucks]
Speaking in shapes
the poet uses his hands
clearing the air
flattening a plane
curling upwards
falling diagonally
circles upon circles
tightening the heart.

[photo of boy on the Great Wall]
Smoking a cigarette
past the "no smoking, no scratching" sign,
an old man with heaving breaths
passes me up the Great Wall.

A boy in a red hat
picks through the garbage
searching for plastic bottles.

He finds a battery
and studies the shape
as if it were a snuff bottle
from the Qin dynasty.

He has no pockets
for his treasure
only bags
of flattened bottles.

What is it like
to face a wall
day after day
mortar from the blood
of our ancestors lost
crushed from stones
now carved with the scratches
of signatures from those who pay
the $45 RMB entrance fee?

The boy's half-nylon sock
tan and see-through
covers a bony ankle above
orange-black tennis shoes.

He studies his scraped knee
the mountains shaped by the wall
a dragon sloping up and down
the angle of his elbow
as it rests against handrail.

I imagine him accusing me
10 years from now
"you are lucky to travel"
not realizing that I just want
to lay my head on my own pillow.

Aunt with the flowery shirt
faded from the sun
wears a straw hat
that matches her straw broom.

She sweeps in the crevices
of past laborers
their ashes from no incense
passing the red hat boy with blue veins
"get back to work," she says.

On the Great Wall
I catch his smile
and offer him a peach
thinking that maybe
like Monkey
he can escape, but knowing
as the wall is long
and broken at parts
that the juice of fruit
is only temporary.
I have many more thoughts about China that I will continue to write. The exciting news is that I will be going back to China in August as a delegate for the Dragon 100.

Au Yong Shu (1904-2005)

Commemorating one year after the passing of my grandfather...

Au Yong Shu

June 21st marks the one year commemoration of my paternal grandfather's passing. My cousin Gary Wu and I were in charge of putting together a slideshow. Here are a few of my favorite photos.
[photo of grandmother with teachers]
Both my grandparents were teachers. My grandmother is seated in the center surrounded by two of her colleagues. Notice her big feet. She was the youngest daughter in her family and screamed so loudly when they bound her feet that her mother told the servants, "Fine, let her have big feet."

Good thing. My refugee grandmother would never have survived running through the mountains of Mindanao without big feet.
[photo of grads]
This photo was taken in 1969, and while it looks like my grandparents' children are all graduating at the same time, it's really a costume show. My father, the first child to leave the family for the United States in 1966, returned home because the business had burned down.

They took his homecoming as a photo op, but instead of posing in front of a charred building, they decided to wear caps and gowns. It makes for a more respectable family history.

My dad is second from the right.
[photo of grandfather at piano]
Here is my grandfather playing the piano. I thought that he was making a racket, but he seemed to enjoy himself so my uncle took this photo. I wish now that I had listened more carefully to my grandfather's music.

The dining room set in the background is at my cousin's home. We are Chinese, so we cover everything in plastic. This is so guests think we always have new furniture even if the fabric underneath the plastic is faded from the sun.
[photo from anniversary]
My grandparents were married for over 75 years.

Look, they're still smiling.
[photo of incense]
My grandmother burns incense for her late husband every morning. My relatives and the shaman say that this incense burning down in a circle shows that he is watching over the family in unique ways.

Next week I travel to China for the first time with my 97-year-old grandmother who hasn't been back in over 60 years.
Visit YIJU: Songs of Dislocation for more about my grandparents.

For more Au Yong/O'Young/Au Yeung/Au Young/AuYong/AuYang/Ou Yang family photos and info, visit this website created by cousin Eldy Wan-Kenobi:
[o-young family image]

Happy New Year

Year of the Fire (Hot) Dog Forecast
Gregorian Year 2006 | Chinese Year 4703

Increased protests, confrontations, and revolts from environmental and humanitarian activists who rally to alleviate and prevent suffering. Decreased materialism as individuals re-evaluate their values and lifestyles. The Dog's attentive focus ensures that honesty and fairness prevail. The virtuous and loyal succeed at their endeavors.

Previous Year of the Fire Dog History
Gregorian Year 1946 | Chinese Year 4643

During the previous Fire Dog Year:

  • Women in Japan, Belgium, Romania, Yugoslavia, Argentina, and Quebec were allowed to vote

  • The Philippines, Jordan, Syria, and Indonesia gained independence

  • Ho Chi Minh was elected president of North Vietnam

  • The UN Security Council held its first session

  • The first digital computer was dedicated

  • The Cannes Film Festival debuted

  • World War II officially ended

  • Civil war in China intensified

  • UNICEF was founded

Surrender, More Ideas

I often forget that I live in a country at war: the United States at war with Iraq, red and blue states at war with each other, and children with guns at war in the public schools. I challenge myself to hear the complexities, respect the outrage, accept the justifications, recognize the fear, embrace the sorrow, and acknowledge the denial, because I am descended from survivors of forced migration.

My grandparents fled China during World War II. I am touched by their hardships as well as ceremonies of healing. Surrender combines singing and t'ai 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. These include the images for missing, confused heart, hands pull apart, sun disappears, claws, chopping sound, crimes of the mouth, freedom of speech, put away for safe-keeping, hands give, retold through 10 mouths, and plants rise from the ground. With hip hop poet Aaron Jafferis, I merge Mandarin and English text. The t'ai qi movements for 24 performers are forever mindful of taking the next step.

Chinese Composers

[article in the Times Albany]

"I am in awe at how Tan Dun has bridged avant-garde and indigenous music to create work that has a distinctive, compelling voice. He makes me feel proud to be Chinese, even though my 'Chinese-ness' is complicated by my birthright as an American," says Byron Au Yong. (The 33-year-old composer was born in Pittsburgh.)
Joseph Dalton, Times Union Albany, 05 December 2004

[article about 10 Chinese composers]10 Names to Know

Here are some of the bright lights of Chinese-American classical music:

Chou Wen-Chung
Dorothy Chang
Tan Dun
Chen Yi
Zhou Long
Bun-Ching Lam
Bright Sheng
Fred Ho
Byron Au YongJames Fei

[10 Chinese composers detail]

Surrender Ideas

I've been brainstorming with Aaron Jafferis, combing through the Dao De Jing, hanging out with Falun Dafa practitioners in Seattle, and observing the protests in New York. Aaron and I have decided to focus on Dao De Jing Verse 22, sung in Mandarin throughout by four to six voices. The larger group sings a relentless, violent beating of persecution lyrics. The audience loops a short folksong throughout this onslaught and in their seeming surrender shows courage and strength.

The movement vocabulary ranges from sitting, to taking a step, to running, to flailing. The sound vocabulary consists of layered folksongs with Chinese Opera inflections and percussive vocal patterns.

I have read through 10 different English translations and studied the Chinese ideograms for this verse. These are the images and ideas from the source text that stand out: twisted, profit, new, missing, many moons, confused heart, delude, cherish, understand, abundance, strength, materialism, adulthood, contend, hands pull apart, struggle, sun disappears, claws, chopping sound, crimes of the mouth, freedom of speech, put away for safe-keeping, sincerity, yielding, silence, violence, liquid, corporeal, participatory, hands give, retold through 10 mouths, plants rise from the ground.

These infuse the new work Surrender for The Esoterics to perform next August.

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:
Bottled Operas
Byron Au Yong: Yiju