Showing posts with label Kidnapping Water. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kidnapping Water. Show all posts

Typhoon Relief

Typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda) has devastated the central Philippines (see The New York Times video). Many of my relatives live in the Philippines. Thankfully, they are safe. Nonetheless, 800,000 people are now homeless because of the typhoon according to the UN (see CNN report).

Inspired by Seattle artist Diem Chau, I offer the chance to dedicate a song for folks who donate to the Red Cross Typhoon Appeal. This is the first time any of the 64 musical miniatures in Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas will be available for dedication.

Hear an audio sample performed by David Stutz (voice) & James Whetzel (water).

 > press play below and wait 15 seconds

If you win, Hello Helicopter - with relevant lyrics written by Aaron Jafferis - will be dedicated to anyone you choose. Additionally, you will receive a hard copy of the music printed with your dedication, as well as two Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas CDs.

Hello Helicopter dedication to be printed at arrow
To Enter
  1. Donate to the Red Cross Typhoon Appeal or another relief organization. 
  2. Forward your confirmation receipt to me.
  3. Email your entry by midnight on November 20, 2013. will be used to choose the winner. Winner will be announced on November 21, 2013.
  • a personal dedication underneath the title Hello Helicopter
  • a copy of the score
  • two compact discs

Thank you for contribution & good luck.

send support to the Philippines for Typhoon Relief via Red Cross

1. Lauren I (American Red Cross)
2. Denise U. (Doctors Without Borders)
3. Laura C. (various)
4. Ruby L. (International Rescue Committee)
5. Etsuko I. (American Red Cross)
6. Alan H. (American Red Cross)
7. Joyce B. (Singapore Red Cross)
8. Anne F. (American Red Cross)
9. Claudia B. (American Red Cross)

Congratulations to Lauren Iida who won the drawing on November 21, 2013. At Lauren's request, the inscription for Hello Helicopter will be "in memory of William Bonica."

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas

Site-Responsive Work
hiking singers, water percussionists

“... musical effects both dramatic and delicate.” Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas are musical miniatures available as live performances in water and a sound/light installation. Hiking singers and percussionists performed 64 Bottled Operas in lakes, fountains, and other waterways throughout the Northwest in 2008.

Video Excerpt

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Randy Moss, media artist for installation
Aaron Jafferis, Caroline Murphy, Eugenie Chan, Edisa Weeks, Bret Fetzer, Archana Kumar, Vivian Umino, Carola Luther, librettists
Pike Pin, project manager
Tom Stiles & CJ Lazenby, audio engineers
Emily Carlsen, costumes
Jean-Stephane & Eric Rockey, videographers
2008 Performers
Betsy Baeskens, Josie Davis, Emily Greenleaf, Jeremiah Oliver, David Stutz, singers
Stuart McLeod, Dean Moore, Benjamin Morrow, James Whetzel, percussionists
Audio Interviews
Jack Straw Productions

KUOW Sound Focus (0:28-13:13)

Installation Video

2011 Seattle Symphony Day of Music
2011 Staging Sustainability Conference, Toronto
2010 May Day! May Day! Town Hall Seattle
2008 Jack Straw New Media Gallery
2008 Bumbershoot Festival of the Arts
2008 4Culture Site-Specific Arts

Audio Recording
64 Libretti
NPR/KUOW Interview
MAP Fund

Press Quotes
“... exquisite darkness... whimsical lines... captivating experience.”
Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger 
“Au Yong deploys the repetition in these travels as a way to create the physical musical rituals that fill Kidnapping Water.... He also aims to use ritual to challenge the structure of American society.”
Roxanne Ray, International Examiner (PDF
“... maybe this is your weekend to doggie-paddle in water opera.”
Katelyn Hackett, Seattlest 
“Byron Au Yong’s Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas got my mind racing through the possibilities of performance without a performance space.”
Zach Carstensen, The Gathering Note

Read in-depth preview by Gavin Borchert in the Seattle Weekly

Kidnapping Water reflections

Last Sunday, Betsy Baeskens, Stuart McLeod and I performed excerpts from Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas for the Seattle Symphony Day of Music. Betsy sang 14 Bottled Operas in six sections while Stuart and I played the water with bamboo poles, plastic bags, gongs, plastic bottles, crotales and bamboo buzzers. Here's our set list:
  1. Taking Time
  2. Red Drops / Ride a Cloud / Floating
  3. Droplets / Translucence / Image / Growing
  4. Disease-Love / Yellow Polka Dot / Swim Swim Swim
  5. Bounce / Withered Lilac
  6. Summer Tea

We performed in the Garden of Remembrance. This public memorial designed by Robert Murase includes reflecting pools and two waterfalls amidst black granite slabs carved with the names of almost 8,000 war veterans. Our set ended with Summer Tea (lyrics by Carola Luther).
Summer Tea
未濟 Wèi Jì |¦|¦|¦

Three months now
I’ve been prepared.
House is painted.
Attic aired.
Suitcase ready.
Words in order.
Got my ticket
and my visa.

While I wait
I dust the corners sweep the floor,
check the ledger, all is sorted.
All’s in order.

A bowl of water for my sister.
A pile of salt for my brother.
And for my daughter
all the seeds:
onion garlic
rose and thyme
cotton broad bean
orange lime
oats and barley
pear and pea
mushroom mulberry.

Story written.
Fire laid.
Letters burnt.
Debts are paid.
Apples dried. Horses fed.
Sail mended. Big book read.

A bowl of water for my sister.
A pile of salt for my brother.
And for my daughter
all the seeds:
onion garlic
rose and thyme
cotton broad bean
orange lime
oats and barley
pear and pea
mushroom mulberry.
Summer, summer tea.
Betsy sent me these reflections about the performance:
A particularly poignant moment was when we were doing Summer Tea. I of course loved the listing of the kinds of seeds to be given to the daughter; as I was preparing that piece, I had familiar twinges of regret over not having had more children, including a daughter. But as I was singing, a little girl I teach from NWGC (Northwest Girlchoir) came into my line of vision. She was rapt, watching you and Stuart, and also showing the astonishment only a young child can when confronted with the impossible image of their teacher somewhere other than the classroom. It made me realize that daughters, and families, can come in many forms, and we can collect and pass seeds to them in many ways. It was powerful, especially as you had said before the performance that you wanted Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas to be not only for people now but for future generations.

Day of Music

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas appears at the Seattle Symphony’s Day of Music. Soprano Betsy Baeskens performs with percussionists Byron Au Yong and Stuart McLeod in the fountains in the Garden of Remembrance outside Benaroya Hall. They are part of the 40+ musical groups invited to perform in seven locations as part of this community-wide celebration of Seattle music as well as welcome for conductor Ludovic Morlot.

Sunday, 18 September 2011, 12:45-1:15pm
Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas
Seattle Symphony Day of Music
2nd Ave & University St
Benaroya Hall, Seattle

Kidnapping Water at Town Hall Seattle

Writer Zach Carstensen mentioned that a highlight of the May Day! May Day! 12-hour new music celebration at Town Hall Seattle were excerpts from Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas. Carstensen wrote on The Gathering Note that the music got his "mind racing through the possibilities of performance without a performance space."

The May Day! May Day! marathon was the first time excerpts from Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas were performed indoors. Emily Greenleaf, Stuart McLeod, Dean Moore, and I sang and played water on the lovely Town Hall main stage surrounded by stained glass windows, wood benches, and music lovers. Along with water bells and gongs, we sang four bottled operas: Abunai (Warning/Warming), Hello Helicopter, Dust Away, and Sunset.

May Day! May Day! was curated by Paul Taub with advice from Steve Peters of Nonsequitur in association with Town Hall. It was great to hear Stuart Dempster, Wayne Horvitz, Robin Holcomb, Michael Lim, Melia Watras, and other contemporary classical musicians in this historic venue.

May Day! May Day!

01 May 2010, 1pm-1am
May Day! May Day!

Town Hall and Nonsequitur present May Day! May Day! The 12-hour new music celebration includes performances by Stuart Dempster, Michael Nicollela, Michael Jinsoo Lim, and others. Dave Beck, Gavin Borchert and Zach Carstensen MC.

From 8:12-8:27PM, a handful of the 64 Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas will be performed by soprano Emily Greenleaf with Byron Au Yong, Stuart McLeod, and Dean Moore on water percussion. This is the first time excerpts from the work will be performed indoors (!)


Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas was a 2009 Richard Rodgers Award Finalist.

Amazing knowing that the Bottled Operas are a set of 64 musical miniatures for any number of performers to be performed in any order, outdoors in water - a far cry from The Sound of Music.

Thanks to the American Academy of Arts and Letters for the encouraging nod of approval.

CD Makes a Splash

“... exquisite darkness… whimsical lines… captivating experience.” – The Stranger

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas
audio recording features hiking opera singers & water percussionists


available at AmazonCD Baby | iTunes

One day, composer Byron Au Yong was overcome in the bottled water section of the supermarket. He heard voices from Poland Spring and Fiji cry out. Au Yong, a Seattle-based musician who composes songs of dislocation, realized that water was kidnapped and taken far from home.

In response, he created 64 musical miniatures for voice and percussion to be performed in, about, and around water. While composing, Au Yong was inspired by listening to water and studying the I Ching 易經 (Book of Changes). He invited eight librettists from around the world to create contemporary responses to the I Ching, one of the oldest Chinese texts.

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas travels through warnings, prayers, fantasies, and whispers in a thematic review for future generations about an element older than man. Human voices and splashing water cry out harder than the silent wisdom of hair turned white.

The initiative was performed in 64 waterways throughout the Pacific Northwest in Summer 2008, as part of 4Culture’s Site-Specific Performance Network and the Bumbershoot Festival of the Arts. A Sound/Light Installation, created with media sculptor Randy Moss, was shown at the Jack Straw New Media Gallery in Fall 2008.

Audio Demo

available at AmazonCD Baby | iTunes

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Randy Moss, media sculptor

Eugenie Chan, Bret Fetzer, Aaron Jafferis, Archana Kumar, Carola Luther, Caroline Murphy, Vivian Umino, Edisa Weeks, librettists

Josie Davis, Emily Greenleaf, Jeremiah Oliver, David Stutz, singers
Stuart McLeod, Dean Moore, Benjamin Morrow, James Whetzel, percussionists

Tom Stiles, audio engineer
Wing Fong, CD designer

MAP Fund
4Culture Site-Specific Arts
Bumbershoot Festival of the Arts
Jack Straw New Media Gallery

Kidnapping Water Installation

Computer-Controlled Light and Sound Installation
Created with artist Randy Moss

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas Media Installation is a study on the movement of water using four-channel acoustic recordings and 104 LED lights. Miniature spotlights produce animated light patterns, illuminating a circular reef of salt that appears to float in the darkened gallery.

Video Excerpt

Dimensions: 18″h x 72″w x 72″d
Materials: wood, salt, steel wire, LEDs, four-channel sound system, electronics, computer, custom software
Jack Straw New Media Gallery: September 12 to November 21, 2008

Text Panel
August 2008. Four pairs of singers and percussionists perform 64 Bottled Operas throughout King County. Sometimes a photojournalist, videographer, or sound recordist accompanies them.

The entourage drives through parking lots and hikes through forests searching for water. They sing to befuddled adults and curious children. Ducks gather. Human voices and splashing water cry out harder than the silent wisdom of hair turned white.

There is fear and longing in this scenario. Not a run-away-in-fear or humping-towards desire, more a pause-and-reflect terror and furrowed-brow hope that sends quiet shivers through the stomach. Mouths sense water disappear. Ears caress aural mirages where the abundant rain of the present hides a future of burning salt.


Computer Custom Software
Four Channel Audio


· Installation sketches and construction photographs by Randy Moss
· Jack Straw New Media Gallery project page

Water Music Seattle Weekly

Seattle Weekly writer Gavin Borchert interviews Byron Au Yong, performers and other musicians for this in-depth article about Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas.

Read the complete article in the Seattle Weekly.

Sound Focus

Jeremy Richards interviewed me on the KUOW NPR radio program Sound Focus today. We met from 12:30-1:15pm. The show aired at 2pm. He edited the interview + three audio clips in less than an hour. Amazing.

Jeremy included three audio excepts from waterway performances by David Stutz & James Whetzel in Echo Lake on August 4th as well as Josie Davis & Ben Morrow in Downtown Seattle on August 11th.

Listen to Kidnapping Water on Sound Focus.

First run-out for Kidnapping Water

James & David in Lake Washington
Today is the first run-out for Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas. We start at Bothell Landing where the Sammamish River winds past mobile homes, under a foot bridge and through a park. When videographer Eric Rockey, percussionist James Whetzel and I arrive, we meet UW Bothell staff and faculty Lisa, Michelle and Bruce as well as researcher/writer Erica Howard.

For the first Bottled Opera, No. 46 : Growing, David starts under the bridge and James plays a wood bowl he picked up at Value Village for $2. Nearly half the world's population (2.1 billion people) live on less than $2 a day. This bowl is one of James' prized instruments for the way it resounds in the water and beyond.

My impressions of the morning in Bothell Landing include a parade of mom's with baby strollers, the geese that line up when David sang No. 15 : Line Up and a jackhammer that breaks through earth a few blocks away with a flute that plays in the distance.

David and James also perform No. 2 : I Am Felled at Bothell Landing.

The UW Bothell wetlands are summer dry underneath the boardwalk, so UW Bothell facility staff gather water from the wetlands and put it in a trough for James and David to perform No. 36 : Plish. This work, with libretto by Bret Fetzer, is about a murderous man deranged by his neighbor's sprinkler. The audience of Professor Amy Lambert's class Engaging Visual Arts: Social and Political Issues in Contemporary Art, faculty and staff politely listen.

David Stutz under a willow tree
Writer Loreen Lee also meets us in Bothell. After UW Bothell, we perform Bottled Opera No. 24 : Coming Home, libretto by Eugenie Chan, in the water under a willow tree. Afterwards, we go to Lake Forest Park Town Center for lunch.

I am excited that there is a King County Library branch in the same building as Third Place Books and a food court.

After lunch Eric, David, James, and I go to north Lake Washington where David and James perform No. 07 : Hello Helicopter. Rather than run away, three teenage girls are intrigued and ask us about the singing and playing water.

The audiences today are all appreciative. After Lake Forest Park we go to Echo Lake in Shoreline and performed No. 19 : Bottle Upon Bottle in a lake filled with swimming children. When David sings "laughter of children," on cue the children splash and giggle. David also performed an encore of Hello Helicopter here. as we walk away one boy sadly yells, "They're leaving."

Puget Sound
David & James on Puget Sound
The final Bottled Opera of today is No. 11 : Heaven, with libretto by Caroline Murphy.

David and James perform at Richmond Beach on Puget Sound. Heaven is about a man justifying his drug addiction in the bathroom of an empty bar.

The juxtaposition of the beautiful exhausting day and the deluded man is a fitting end to this first set of Bottled Operas. I realize that I often wrap myself in so many contradictions that I forget the beauty that surrounds me.

For an encore to the magnificant Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound, David and James perform Growing one more time; two monks walking on the shoreline.

Read David's thoughts on the project posted the night before the premiere.

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas is about the forced migration of an element more powerful than man. With a creative team of classical and avant-garde musicians, I explore human interactions with water through 64 intimate operas.

Each bottled opera will be two to five minutes. These 64 miniatures include songs of human foibles set amidst tales of droughts and floods. I collect water memories, romances and renewals to decipher the traumas and joys of water's continual ebb and flow. Listening to water, I compose these operas.

64 = 8 x 8: the number of hexagrams in the I-Ching [The Book of Changes]. Each of the hexagrams relates to an archetypal state such as conflict or peace. With 64 bottled operas, I am able to encapsulate a cosmology of opposition and change for the 21st century.

Kidnapping Water is for eight opera singers, each accompanied by one instrumentalist such as a Chinese drummer. Each singer will learn eight portable songs to create site-specific sets that last in duration from 16 to 40 minutes. These Bottled Operas will be performed in fountains, reservoirs, pools, lakes, and other waterways.

The 64 portable vocal/water studies will be documented by a videographer for online distribution as well as an audio/video installation that will be at the Jack Straw New Media Gallery in November/December 2008.

Over one billion people lack access to safe drinking water. I listen to water because one day it may disappear. With an empty plastic bottle, I search for ways water connects people with the places they call home. I listen to stories and sounds to find meaning in a world filled with beauty and terror. Interested in the interplay between the environment and listening, I find musical gestures in everyday actions. These gestures form the basis of eco-ceremonial works created to honor the ritual of people who gather to listen.
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