Though they aren’t directly based on literature, these five pieces use imagery that could appear in ancient Chinese stories or poetry. The intent is that listeners’ imaginations fill in missing details of scenery or action based on the music. In order to help create scenes and images, I sometimes borrow from Chinese music, though I don’t attempt to be stylistically accurate. Stated poetically, one could imagine the performer’s bow is a musical brush tracing wordless verses and painting dramatic pictures.
I - Spring Returning
This music depicts an older person quietly observing, recollecting and musing on the new beginnings of spring. The music is generally elegant and lyrical, with some obvious Chinese influences.
II - Loyalties
“Loyalties” is meant to conjure the image of a person caught between responsibilities for loved ones and emperor or government when those two are in conflict. Different loyalties are portrayed by different characters: heavy and authoritative vs. lighter and more playful or lyrical.
III - Drinking With the Moon
Microtonal pitch bends and plucked notes are used in this piece to evoke a type of solitude and an Eastern sense of expressivity. The scene is of someone spending a quiet and beautiful summer night alone.
IV - Messenger
This is a loyal messenger on horseback traversing difficult mountainous terrain delivering important news. There are two rising pitch structures appearing together throughout the movement acting as the jagged terrane. The cellist first climbs these mountains, then passes over them before finally breaking free of them.
V - Tranquility
The image here is somebody who already lived a full life of joys, opportunities, sorrows, tragedies, frustrations and loss. It is somebody who left society to quietly meditate in a temple far from that which drove them to do so.
These pieces may be performed separately, in smaller groups, or as an entire set. Performance duration of all five pieces will be approximately 25 minutes. Individual durations are included at the end of each piece.
(duration ca. 25 min.)