Showing posts with label Works. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Works. Show all posts


Choral/Hip-Hop Theater Work
for local participants

(Be)longing is scored for voices & stones
(Be)longing is a choral/hip-hop oratorio prompted by the April 16th Tragedy at Virginia Tech, where a Korean-American student shot 49 people, killing 32, then himself. College students, faculty, staff, and local leaders form the backbone of this performance where mental health, music, neuroscience, sociology, and theatre intersect. Developmental residencies culminate in performances and events leading up to the 10-year memorial in 2017.

March 17-18, 2017
Moss Arts Center · Virginia Tech, Blacksburg

April 21, 2017
MDC Live Arts · Miami Dade College

June 2017
International Festival of Arts & Ideas · New Haven

TBA 2018
Center for the Performing Arts, Penn State

September 2018
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts · San Francisco


Program Notes
School shootings are a challenging subject. Debates ping pong around gun control, the second amendment and civil liberties. Trigger broadens themes surrounding shootings in America by incorporating the perspectives of people who work and study in university settings with a responsive theatrical choral project. Voices both murmur and soar in a project about belonging and isolation. With listening and empathy as core experiences of this musical work, (Be)longing strives to encourage, rather than silence, numerous voices.

This staged choral work serves as a touchstone for Activate (Be)longing: thematically-related artistic, scholarly, technology, and other resources developed by local groups. Individuals and organizations are invited to think about forgiveness and justice, freedom and safety, as well as other themes related to education, guns, race, and other topics sparked by (Be)longing. Individuals from campus clubs, civic organizations and audience members converse through the creation of art as strategies to prevent school shootings.

Activate (Be)longing brings audiences, experts and performers together in artistic spaces of imagination and impact as active negotiators in topics that have divided Americans, such as
second amendment rights and mental health profiling. Both the core performance of Trigger and related events in Activate (Be)longing serve to broaden and deepen themes to build communities to end violence.

(Be)longing, initially titled Trigger, is the second work in a trilogy of music theatre works about what Americans fear, by composer Byron Au Yong and librettist Aaron Jafferis. The first is Stuck Elevator.

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Aaron Jafferis, writer

Charlotte Brathwaite, director
Ni'Ja Whitson, choreographer
Ben Zamora, design

(Be)longing is scored for singers, rappers and beat boxers who play stones. With an auditioned cast chosen from the local community, the creative team guides participating musicians to collaborate on a performance specific to the host venue. Additional instrumentation can be arranged according to the talents of the cast.

2014 Research & Writing Residencies
2015 Community Development Residencies
2016 Production Residencies
2017-2018 Performances & Touring

Thomas O. Kriegsmann, producer
+1 (917) 386-5468
tommy (at)

International Festival of Arts & Ideas (research & writing residencies 2014, 2015)
Lucas Artists Residency Program at Montalvo Arts Center (2016)
Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA (writing residency 2014)
Virginia Tech Center for the Arts  (research & writing residencies 2014, 2015, 2016)
Westminster Choir College (writing residency & teaching 2016)
Weston Playhouse (writing retreat 2015)


Choral Work
for moving choir along the water

“... it’s hard to imagine that anyone walked away from TURBINE unchanged.”
—David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer


Leah Stein Dance Company and
Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia
at the Fairmount Water Works

June 27 & 28, 2015 · Sold Out

In TURBINE, the audience is immersed with music and movement in an outdoor performance along the water. The project is being created for the 200th Anniversary of the Fairmount Water Works—an urban environmental center on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia—and is available for other civic waterways.

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Leah Stein, artistic director/choreographer
Alan Harler, conductor/music director

Performed by Leah Stein Dance Company and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

with assistant conductors Ryan Tibbetts, Austen Wilson
and soloists Jennifer Beattie, Shahara M. Benson, Jean Bernard Cerin, Josh Hartman, Bob Rodgers, Alice McKillip Thornburgh, Rebecca Thornburgh, Ryan Tibbetts, Austen Wilson

Duration: variable (circa one hour)
Commissioned and performed by Leah Stein Dance Company and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia
More about the lyrics compiled and edited by Byron Au Yong

Audio Interviews
“One of a kind performance at the Waterworks”
WHYY NewsWorks

“How many arms does it take to conduct the Mendelssohn Club Choir?”
WRTI Radio

"Soyoung Shin interviews Byron Au Yong"
KCHUNG her variety

Program Note Excerpt
Alan Harler and Leah Stein brought me to the Fairmount Water Works in October 2013. The park and historic plaza were alive with people enjoying the autumn day next to the glistening waterway. Appropriately translated as “hidden river,” the Schuylkill turned from peaceful to terrifying when the following spring, the water crested at nearly 14 feet. The May 2014 flood brought a deluge to the Water Works. A place that was historically the source of clean water became filled with debris. 
TURBINE draws upon accounts from the heyday of the Fairmount Water Works in the early 19th century. Visitors marveled at human ingenuity building “miraculous mechanical… cylinders and pistons” that worked with nature to provide “clear and bright as crystal, a cup for the thirsty.” This text is filtered through a 21st century reality to produce lyric fragments.

Migration as well as water molecules influence the music. Voices seep in and out of the sounds along the river. These include the noise of traffic and trains. Musical motifs connect and disconnect in a free molecular flow. 
According to the World Health Organization, a child dies from a water-related disease every minute. More than twice the population of the United States lives without access to safe water. How can we turn despair and rage into wisdom? 
Singing and listening to a river in the middle of a city is a step towards “justice journeying to harbor.” A turbine takes turbulence and transforms it into potential energy. Together we can find ways to ensure that the 750 million people around the world who lack access to safe water are given a chance to survive.
Byron Au Yong
February 2015
Program Notes


Video: Byron Au Yong Interview

Video: Alan Harler Interview

Video: Leah Stein Interview

Video: Deenah Loeb Interview

Preview Quote
“Site-specific virtuoso choreographer Leah Stein and composer Byron Au Yong create an experience with performers and audience moving throughout the entire site at the Fairmount Water Works.”
Merilyn Jackson, The Philadelphia Inquirer

More Press
· Peter Crimmins. One of a kind performance at the Waterworks. WHYY NewsWorks
· Kelsey Menehan. Commissioning Journeys: When the Place Shapes the Music. Chorus Ameria
· Miriam Seidel. Leah Stein, Dance AlchemistMiriam Seidel Blog
· David Patrick Stearns. Getting Creative Down by the RiversideThe Philadelphia Inquirer
· David Patrick Stearns. How many arms does it take to conduct the Mendelssohn Club Choir? WRTI
· Lewis Whittington. Stein’s water-dances fuel TurbineThe Dance Journal

· Bibliography and Source Text for Lyrics
· Fairmount Water Works
· Musical Score
· PhillyH2O
· Turbine Residency, October 2014

Special Thanks
Lora Allen, Sonja Bontrager, Alan Harler, Hermitage Artist Retreat, Michelle Hollander, Adam Levine (Philadelphia Water Department), Deenah Loeb (City Parks Association), Janelle McCoy, Edward McNally, Leah Stein, Leah Stein Dance Company, Library Company of Philadelphia, Carolyn Linarello, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Michael Moore, New Music USA, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Gabrielle Revlock, Saechew/Tolsma Household, Amanda Schkeeper, Skip Stotesbury, Thornburgh Family, Ryan Tibbetts, Rich Tolsma Productions, Sharon Torello, Schuylkill Banks, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Richard Tolsma, William Penn Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, Karen Young (Fairmount Water Works)

Major support for TURBINE was provided by William Penn Foundation. In addition, TURBINE was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts.

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

Lost Fireflies

Piano Trio
for violin, cello, piano

Initial ideas for Lost Fireflies come from 20-year-old piano trio sketches I recently found. Referring to these fragmented notes from the past, I write in early autumn as a chill fills the air. While the seasons change I wonder, where do fireflies go when the summer ends?


Duration: variable
Available for dedication and first performance

The Orphan of Zhao

Theater Music
for voices, xun, kubing, violin, cello, cymbals, drum, gongs, water

“... a complex and evocative score.” —Leo Stutzin, Huffington Post

Journalist and poet James Fenton created an English adaptation of The Orphan of Zhao (趙氏孤兒), a classic Chinese play about revenge and sacrifice. Music for the U.S. production included three ensemble numbers + six solos, as well as numerous musical transitions for the 25 scenes.

American Conservatory Theatre (San Francisco) June 2014
La Jolla Playhouse (San Diego) July/August 2014

Press Quotes
“Certain elements of that pageant are quite enjoyable, most notably the original score by Byron Au Yong and played by an onstage cellist and violinist augmented by cast members on percussion and unusual instruments (like water bowls).”
—Chad Jones,  San Francisco Chronicle

“... nonstop instrumental effects, ‘Zhao’ calls for and receives heightened stylistic attack from its players.”
—David C. Nichols, Los Angeles Times

“... a haunting mix of strings, gongs, percussion and even tones summoned from bowls of water.”
—James Hebert, The San Diego Union-Tribune

“Au Yong’s original music goes in surprising directions and tonalities.”
—Jeff Smith, San Diego Reader

Marie-France Arcilla
Stan Egi
Philip Estrera
Nick Gabriel
Cindy Im
Orville Mendoza
Paolo Montalban
Brian Rivera
Sab Shimono
Julyana Soelistyo
Daisuke Tsuji
BD Wong
Philip Estrera, violin
Jessica Ivry, cello
+ members of the cast

Creative Team
Carey Perloff, director
Byron Au Yong, composer
Stephen Buescher, movement
Daniel Ostling, scenic design
Linda Cho, costume design
Lap Chi Chu, lighting design
Jake Rodriguez, sound design
Words on Plays
A.C.T.’s in-depth performance guide includes Michael Paller’s “Where the Sound Comes From: An Interview with Composer Byron Au Yong” (PDF)

Stage and Cinema
historical details about A.C.T.’s production of The Orphan of Zhao, by Tony Frankel

Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

Piano Concerto

Media Installation
audio surround, projection mapping sculpture, video portraits
Playing the piano can oftentimes be lonely. Recognizing this, composer Byron Au Yong and artist Susie J. Lee gather pianists to share stories. Thinking about the concerto as a form for a soloist and ensemble, Au Yong and Lee consider each pianist as a soloist and an ensemble member.

Lee films the pianists. Au Yong provides an open notation Piano Concerto score. 11 pianists rehearse together, then record. This results in an intimate installation of solo video portraits and an ensemble audio sculpture.
Video Portrait Excerpts
Duration: variable
Instrumentation: concert grand piano
Installation: 4-channel audio installation with 4-channel video projection; one HDTV video portrait
Commissioned by the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, 2014

Premiered at the CounterCurrent Festival, Bermac Arts Center, April 2014
Video portraits shown at:
· (Im)materiel, Headlands Center for the Arts, January/February 2015
· New Strands Festival, American Conservatory Theatre, January 2016

Video: Media Sculpture

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer and co-creator
Susie J. Lee, social sculptor and co-creator

Soyoung Shin, cinematographer, photographer
Will Gibbs, technical director
Afshin Farzadfar, recording engineer
Robb Kunz, audio mastering
Jared Bender, sculpture fabrication
Joe Freeman, photographer

Houston Pianists
Sonya Bandouil · Jason Castaneda · Stephen Fierros · Lisa E. Harris · Timothy Hester · Darrell Jenkins · Saun Cheng Lee · Andreea Mut · Robert Rhodes · Linda Singer · Jenni Rebecca Stephenson


Press Quote
“In January, they found 11 Houston musicians of varying abilities and styles to play Au Yong’s concerto, including a professor of piano at the Moores School of Music, a lawyer who played to support himself through school and still keeps a piano in one of his three offices, an opera singer who plays improvisationally, and a brother and sister who have played piano since they were children, but not professionally.”
Molly Glentzer, Houston Chronicle
Piano Concerto–Houston
  • February/March: Individual Interviews of pianists in their home or studio
  • March: Public Gathering with all 11 participants to meet, share stories & rehearse
  • March: Audio/Video Recording of pianist portraits
  • April: Installation presented at the Mitchell Center for the Arts CounterCurrent Festival
Byron Au Yong and Susie Lee
Susie J. Lee and Byron Au Yong · Photo © 2014 by Joe Freeman
Special Thanks
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Karen Farber, Frye Art Museum, David Garcia, Katrina Hess, Kerry Inman, LD Systems, Tiffany Lin, Kimball McMahan, Bryan Miller, Frank Minoru Phillips, MicroSearch Pro Video Sales & Rental, Moores School of Music, Nicole Romano, Tom Stiles, Chris Strompolos, Teruhiko Toda, Margret Truax, University of Houston, Rick Valentine, Emily C. Watts


Chamber Music
for string trio

“... tapping bows, glissandos, and strong lines for the viola...” Northwest Reverb

In 1914, Erik Satie composed 21 short piano interludes called Sports et Divertissements. To close the two-week contemporary music festival March Music Moderne IV, composer/curator Bob Priest invited composers to respond to #17 Le Tango Perpétuel. I composed Tangosa...


Duration: variable (circa 1 minute)
Instrumentation: violin, viola, cello
Premiered by the Free Marz Trio: Hae-Jin Kim (violin), Kenji Bunch (viola), Diane Chaplin (cello)
Commissioned by March Music Moderne, Portland OR, March 2014

Welladay! Welladay!

Wayward Love Songs
ceremonial music for voice(s), piano trio, artists

“New songs from the exquisite and off-kilter mind of composer Byron Au Yong.” —Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly

Welladay! Welladay! Wayward Love Songs sweeps through 36 poems by James Joyce, published in a collection called Chamber Music in 1907. Despite the exclamation points in the title, Welladay! Welladay! is a quiet work. The intimate, variable music nods to love as well as the orphans and unwed mothers who lived in Seattle’s Good Shepherd Center from 1907 to 1973. Crumpled letters and laundered bed sheets provide touchstones for the performance.

Audio Excerpts

available on Bandcamp

Duration: circa one hour
Commissioned and presented by Nonsequitur
Premiered at Chapel Performance Space in Seattle, October 2013
Performed at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, April 2016

Score (Buy Sheet Music)

Musical Sections
1 all softly playing
2 ring-around in glee
3 sweetly, gently, secretly
4 made tremulous
5 lightly, lightly... ever so
6 after the whirling

6 love at first is all afraid
5 she is a stranger to me now
4 be at peace again
3 walk together
2 lay aside sadness and sing
1 speak to your heart

Creative Team
Betsy Baeskens Giri, voice
Tari Nelson-Zagar, violin
Lori Goldston, cello
Tiffany Lin, piano
Bianca Ana Chavez, artist
Linda Ando, project manager
Susie J Lee, pre-show video

Special Thanks
Anthony Farin, Frye Art Museum, Jen Graves, greencitypix, Historic Seattle, Vivian Huang, Soyon Im, InterIm Community Development Association, Paul Kikuchi, Wes Kim, Michelle Kumata, Alan Lau, Leslie Morishita, Nelly Schaffner, Szymek Zaleski

Kiss / Kuss / 吻

for any number of performers

In the 1940s, composer John Cage and several friends played an exquisite corpse called Party Pieces. One composer wrote one bar of music plus two notes, folded the paper at the bar line and passed it to their fellow composer. Invited by Cage 100, Au Yong contributes the composition Kiss / Kuss / 吻 for the Party Pieces Project.

Exhibition + Performance
Score exhibited at Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst in Leipzig, Germany, August/September 2013
Performed by Either/Or at the Miller Theatre in New York, October 2013

Stuck Elevator

Chamber Opera / Music Theater
for voices, violin, cello, piano, percussion, bicycle wheel, soundtrack

“... one of the more ambitious, listenable modern scores in contemporary musical theater.”
Andrew Beck, Hartford Arts Examiner

Stuck Elevator is a comic-rap-scrap-metal-opera prompted by the real-life experience of a Chinese food deliveryman trapped in an elevator for 81 hours.

Video Trailer

for more media, visit

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Aaron Jafferis, librettist

Duration: 81 minutes
Cast: 5 actors, 4 musicians

 · Guang 洸 (tenor)
 · Míng 茗/Ensemble (soprano)
 · Marco/Ensemble (tenor)
 · Wáng Yuè 王岳/Nephew/Ensemble (baritone)
 · Zhong Yì 忠佚/Boss’Wife/Ensemble (bass-baritone)

 · violin, cello, piano, percussion, soundtrack

American Conservatory Theatre
San Francisco, April 2013

International Festival of Arts & Ideas
Long Wharf Theatre
New Haven, June 2013

(for a list of the creative team & previous performers, visit Stuck Elevator Events)

Producer Contact
Thomas O. Kriegsmann
+1 (917) 386-5468
tommy (at)
Audio Demo

2013 Outstanding Original Musical, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
2013 Outstanding Principal Actor in a Musical, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
2013 Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award
2013 NEA Art Works Award

Press Quotes
“Audacious, compelling and hugely imaginative.”
Leo Stutzin, Huffington Post
“... claustrophobic and expansive, intimate and existential, personal and political all at once.”
Frank Rizzo, Variety

“A vibrant opera-musical theater hybrid with a story both personally compelling and eye-opening.”
Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
Words on Plays
A.C.T.'s in-depth performance guide includes interviews with the creative team + specific details about immigration related to Stuck Elevator (PDF)

Define American
a media + culture campaign that holds conversations about immigration and citizenship in America

(for more links about the production + research, visit Stuck Elevator Resources)

Stuck Elevator was developed, in part, by the Sundance Institute Theatre Program with additional support from the Sundance Institute’s Time Warner Fellowship Program

Stuck Elevator is a project of Creative Capital, and was developed, in part, with the assistance of the Asian/Pacific/American Institute artist-in-residence program at NYU, New York Theatre Workshop Residency at Dartmouth's Hopkins Center for the Arts, and Yale Institute for Music Theatre

Touring was made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Pilot, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Support for earlier versions from 4Culture, Artist Trust, API/2, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Hand2Mouth’s Risk/Reward New Performance Festival, Museum of Chinese in America, On the Boards’ NW New Works Festival, Theatre Off Jackson & Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

A Gift for Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2013 sketch
Memorial Day 2013 is part of a series of piano miniatures I started at age 19. For every Memorial Day since then, I vowed to write a piano solo. Completing the first Memorial Day piece helped me out of a depressing year of sketching without finishing a musical work.

In the previous year, I dropped out of college and worked odd jobs. My unfinished musical sketches could have turned into an entire lifetime of incomplete projects. Luckily, I started these Memorial Day pieces.

Memorials can be places of regret or a reminder. These solo piano works honor those who have passed in numerous ways. Memorial Day 2013 is a musical puzzle. Play it delicately, as often as needed.

Contact me if you would like to buy the dedication for Memorial Day 2013 as a gift for a loved one.

Occupy Orchestra 無量園 Infinity Garden

inspired by classical Chinese gardens, John Cage and the occupy movement

Audio Excerpt

available at Bandcamp

Duration c. 9-15 minutes
Instrumentation variable (winds, brass, percussion, strings, other)
Site-responsive work written for the Chicago Composers Orchestra and audience
Performed at Garfield Park Conservatory (Chicago IL) January 2013

Program Notes
“The emotions—love, mirth, the heroic, wonder, tranquility, fear, anger, sorrow, disgust—are in the audience.” John Cage

Walk the zigzag path into a Chinese garden where jagged rocks, misty lakes and meandering walls welcome you. Walk the crowded pavement into a general assembly of the occupy movement where idealistic students, homeless parents and concerned citizens welcome you. We gather here/hear now in the Chinese garden and general assembly of our imaginations.

You can listen. You can watch. You can rustle your papers, walk around the garden, record the event and chant your phrase. This is y/our space. This is y/our time. We shall gather all around, finding power in our sound.

Welcome to Occupy Orchestra 無量園 Infinity Garden
  • Sarah van Gelder, This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street & the 99% movement, 2011.
  • John Cage, Silence: Lectures & Writings, 1961.
  • Ji Cheng (计成), The Craft of Gardens (园冶), 1631.
Press Quote
“As I wandered among the musicians and plants, I noticed how many people were capturing the moment. Photographers, mostly. Professional, a lot of them, with sacks and bags and oversized equipment sometimes with the labels of whatever storeroom or newspaper, magazine checkout space they borrowed the damn thing from.

There were a lot of the individual cell phone camera types who can’t look at the world without recording it. Even me, with my little dictaphone, the little Olympus that’s lasted five years and sixty dollars.

Maybe that’s what music is now. Performance has turned from an arrow to a circle.”

Paul Dailing, 1,001 Chicago Afternoons, January 2013

available at Bandcamp


It's always a pleasure to work with choreographer Donald Byrd. I appreciate how he challenges my aesthetic and how clear his instructions are for what he wants musically. In March, Donald asked me to remix tracks for Spectrum Dance Theatre's Petruchska. He specifically wanted a carnival-girlie-show-feel that had a groove.

I laughed, "What do I know about girlie show music?!"

Spectrum Dance Theater presents Petruchska, Donald Byrd’s re-imagining of the Igor Stravinsky/Alexandre Benois ballet about ill-fated love. With a live carnival, roving performers, and multimedia installation, this voyeuristic immersion in the puppets' world will literally have the audience following the story as it unfolds throughout Madrona Park and into SDT’s studios and theater. This "creep show" ushers the audience into participating as viewers and witnesses in the lurid drama of life behind the puppet show.

Experience Spectrum Dance Theatre's Petruchska from April 13-22, 2012
Details | Facebook ]


“An orrery of memory, an attempt to chart the composer's recollections and speculations about his musician grandfather who emigrated from China in the 1930s. What kind of music might they have made together?” —Christopher DeLaurenti, The Stranger

Audio Excerpts

available at Amazon | CD Baby | iTunes

Songs of Dislocation
A vast number of Chinese – more than 40 million – live outside of their ancestral homeland. In North America, the influx of this diaspora is mixing and adapting its cultural heritage in New York (665,714), San Francisco (562,355), Toronto (486,300) and Vancouver (402,000).

With “Yiju,” Mandarin for “to migrate,” Present Sounds Recordings and composer Byron Au Yong offer an album of music both intimate and cinematic, humorous and contemplative, combining Au Yong’s broken musical lineage with a nod to the avant garde. “As the only composer in a family of overseas Chinese, it is with regret that I never studied music with my grandfather," he says.

“On this album, I devoted myself to assembling songs of dislocation – of memory and imagination. I hope listeners find moments to laugh, as well as reflect about migration, travel and their relationship to China.”

Selected track insights
  • Daughter 女儿: “My grandparents fled China in 1938, leaving my first aunt. I wonder what lullaby my grandmother would have sung to the daughter they left behind.”
  • Two Knives 两把刀: “In the 1940s, my grandfather was captured by Japanese soldiers. He pretended to be a farmer and joked with the soldiers until he was able to escape. They would have killed him if they knew he started the first Chinese school in the Mindanao Mountains of the Philippines.”
  • A Man Is Falling 摔倒的人: “I used to think that migration was horizontal. After 9/11, I began to think of migration as vertical – of ancestors falling through the sky and landing on unsuspecting progeny. The news rarely covers family stories turned on their heads.”

Praise for ‘Yiju’
“Yiju is at times haunting and at times a rich cacophony of textures and emotion. It’s music for quiet, contemplative time. Each time I listen I hear something new.”
– Mary Coss, artist

“I don't know of any other contemporary work that both embraces and subverts its sentimentality to such compelling effect. I loved the way it unfolded, song by song, with each new piece catching me off guard, even as it evolved its themes and motifs.”
– Aaron Landsman, playwright
Creative team
“Yiju 移居,” Byron Au Yong’s fourth album, features performances by musicians Karen Akada, Au Yong, Marc Collins, Marc delaCruz, Jessika Kenney, Gina Sala, Aiko Shimada and James Whetzel singing and playing er-hu (Chinese fiddle), string bass, drums, paper, chopsticks, cymbals and water gongs. “Yiju” was recorded by audio engineer Steve Ditore as part of a Jack Straw New Media Gallery residency in Seattle. Album design by Wing Fong.

Other albums by Byron Au Yong
YIJU 移居 One Sheet (PDF)
Released by Present Sounds Recordings, 2012

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


Live Music Installation
for found & broken instruments

O(pa)pera is a musical zoetrope. A quartet of displaced musicians find themselves sheltered inside of a revolving paper tent. Playing found and broken instruments reminds them of a former life and points to a future of new possibilities.

photos by Cameron Nagashima

Composer Byron Au Yong knew that he wanted to create a paper opera with musicians inside of a gigantic lantern. When the Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami happened in 2011, he merged the words "opera" and "paper" to become O(pa)pera. He found inspiration in Japanese architect Shigeru Ban designing paper buildings for disaster relief victims. How could music be used after a catastrophe? A creative team was gathered for O(pa)pera Phase One in 2011, while the Seattle Art Museum's Luminous Exhibition was touring Asia.

In collaboration with director Roger Benington and musicians Jeremiah Cawley, Tiffany Lin, and Tari Nelson-Zagar, Au Yong began rehearsals gathering stories about musicians and earthquakes. Violinist Nelson-Zagar remembered that after the 1935 Montana earthquake, her grandmother and father lived in a tent for several months. Au Yong found that Haydn wrote a string quartet with a section called Terremoto (earthquake).

O(pa)pera Phase One was performed in the Arnold Board Room of the Seattle Art Museum for two sold out shows in January 2012.

before the lights dim...

Phase One of Four

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer / musician
Roger Benington, director / installation artist
Jeremiah Cawley, musician
Tari Nelson-Zagar, musician
Tiffany Lin, musician
Yuka Kitayama, announcer

Nancy Casanova, project manager
Frank Phillips, technical consultant
Lauren Iida, videographer
Cameron Nagashima, photographer

Along with singing, drumming + playing paper, the musicians perform on: erhu, xun, typewriter (Au Yong), trombone, harmonica (Cawley), violin, xun (Nelson-Zagar), cello, found electronic device, toy piano, water gong (Lin). Benington activated the gigantic zoetrope with numerous lights.

Yuka announces: "Object Number..."

Become Involved
O(pa)pera is in four phases. The creative team would like to partner with science museums as well as disaster relief organizations to continue the research & development. Contact Au Yong for details.

Special Thanks
Jerry Becker, John Gilbreath, Crystal Mazzali, KT Niehoff, Fred & Nelly Schaffner, Esther Sugai, Mayumi Tsutakawa, along with support from SAM staff especially Jamie Andrews, Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Erin Langner, Wendy Saffel, & Greg Sandoval

Ji Mo 寂寞: The Stillness of Solitude

"... a healing meditation." —The Oregonian

Dance Music Theatre
for voices, xun, er-hu, bamboo, water, rocks, Chinese percussion

Ji Mo 寂寞: The Stillness of Solitude is a music-dance-theater work for quartet. Thinking about the hikikomori (young adults in Japan who withdraw from society), my collaborators and I go beyond the comforting heartbeat of the drums to explore the distress signals of loss.

Video Excerpt

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer, voice, xun, er-hu, bamboo, rocks, percussion
Michelle Fujii, voice, bamboo, water, rocks, percussion
Karen Akada Sakata, voice, xun, bamboo, rocks, percussion
Toru Watanabe, voice, bamboo, water, rocks, percussion
Kikuko Dewa, shibori artist
Michelle Kumata, costume designer
Okazawa M, technical director
Sarah Lin Bhatia, production coordinator
Lorraine Pai, installation coordinator

Duration: 19 minutes
Commissioned by Portland Taiko
Premiered at Lincoln Hall in Portland, Oregon, April 2007

Press Quotes
"Seattle's Byron Au Yong brings a highly visual theatricality."
Portland Tribune

"Taiko is often about loud, rapid drumming that thrills audiences with its physicality. But Portland Taiko takes a different tack with a new work on its upcoming concert."
The Oregonian
photos by Aaron Jafferis (click for slideshow)
photos by Jean-Stephane (click for slideshow)

The Mother of Us All

“... laptop wizardry by Au Yong.” —Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
Dance Music
for kora, laptop, soundtrack

The Mother of Us All is a dance-music-text work about contemporary Africa created by Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theatre. Composer Byron Au Yong collaborated on this project as part of the initiative Beyond Dance: Promoting Awareness and Mutual Understanding.

Video Preview

Creative Team
Donald Byrd, choreographer
Byron Au Yong, composer
Jack Mehler, set/lighting designer
Byron Au Yong, laptop
Kane Mathis, kora
Marsha Mutisi, voice
Michael Bagne, Kelly Ann Barton, Bonnie Boiter-Jolly, Ty Alexander Cheng, Kylie Lewallen, Vincent Lopez, Amber Nicole Mayberry, Tory Peil, Sarah Poppe, Meaghan Sanford, dancers

Duration: 68 minutes
Presented by Spectrum Dance Theatre, in partnership with Seattle Theater Group
Premiered at The Moore Theatre in Seattle, March 2011

Press Quotes
“The kora is an old, old instrument, and Au Yong has it almost vanish within a river of electronic, industrial sonic artifact... The score is perfectly suited to what you see.”
Michael van Baker, SunBreak 
“The air fills with musical fragments, ambient street sounds and a series of talking heads holding forth on the challenges facing Africa. The sound tableau, composed by Byron Au Yong, mixes recorded material with Kane Mathis performing live on the kora (West African harp).”
Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times 
more articles about The Mother of Us All

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

Piao Zhu: Flying Bamboo

Ceremonial Music
for voices, drums, cymbals, gongs, bamboo, fiddle, mouth harp, water

Piao Zhu 飄竹: Flying Bamboo is a contemporary performance inspired by the legend of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove – a band of Chinese scholars and poets who met to escape political and societal duress during the 3rd century BCE.

A Piao Zhu 飄竹: Flying Bamboo performance includes music and movement with a focus on social action and artistic wonder. The ensemble is available to perform for various functions with one to four musicians.

  • Duration variable
  • Performances include the Community Arts Day Celebration for Bainbridge Performing Arts, the Arts-in-Nature Festival, and additional events throughout the Pacific Northwest
  • Piao Zhu 飄竹 premiered as a two-hour event at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, May 2006
Past and current performers include Tophe Anderson, Byron Au Yong, Kelsey Furuta, Paul Kikuchi, Tiffany Lin, Karen Lindenberg, Karen Akada Sakata, and Ying Zhou

Press Quote
"Piao Zhu, in English 'flying bamboo,' a new dance/percussion/chant meditation/ritual by Byron Au Yong, whose interdisciplinary works are as exquisite and imaginative as they are unclassifiable."
Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly Pick

Bainbridge Performing Arts (click for slideshow)
Arts-in-Nature Festival (click for slideshow)
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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