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Mise-En Festival 2018 Visiting Composer- Premiere of “Crystal Images II: Beijing Hutongs, Spring ’18”

Categories Benjamin Oliver, chamber, Chamber Music, Mise-En Festival, Moon Young HA, New York, performance

The Mise-En Festival 2018 website is up now:

This contemporary music festival, run by an amazing team led by the energetic Korean composer Moon Young HA, is held annually at Mise-En Place, Bushwick, New York.  Mise-En chose my proposal for a new work, along with twenty four other composers’ proposals and scores (out of 572 entries), for inclusion in this year’s festival.  I shall be very excited to have my first trip to New York, and to work with Ensemble Mise-En on my work, Crystal Images II: Beijing Hutongs, Spring ’18.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing Professor Benjamin Oliver of the University of Southampton (alma mater of my Masters and PhD years), whose piece has also been accepted for the festival.  Congratulations Ben!

(I was surprised they used this passport-style picture of me (eight years old, heavily photoshopped, taken during my exchange visit to Taipei).  Next time I’ll make sure I send a more artistic picture.  Nonetheless it makes me look implausibly young and fresh which is no bad thing!)

Info on the piece below:



Commissioned by the 2018 Mise-En Festival, for performance
by Ensemble Mise-En at Mise-En Place, Bushwick, New York, 30th June 2018.
Dedicated to Cornelia Bogen and Dominik Scheder,
in celebration of their marriage,
and to Balthasar, in celebration of his birth.

Programme Note

Crystal Images II: Beijing Hutongs, Spring ’18 is a follow-up piece to Crystal Images I: Cardigan Bay, Summer ’15. In the earlier chamber work, I focussed on creating
maximally specific “sound images” that evoked motion in motionlessness, changelessness in flux.  The sound images were paired with similarly “fluctuating” video images (static shots of natural scenes in flux, such as crashing waves, or branches bending in the wind).

In Crystal Images II I have made another mosaic of sound images, but without video (having discovered that the video element actually distracts our attention from the sound).
The work presents seven sound images of slightly varying length. In each image, one of the seven performers is taken as the focal point of a “spectral” texture based on a different harmonic series. We hear each image presented in three textures of varying thickness: full group, reduced group, and the focal instrument “solo” (more or less). Each image also comprises a fourth “texture” of silence.

The idea for this kind of non-linear (geometric) musical structure was prompted by a diary entry of Andrey Tarkovsky. He described an idea for a plotless film made-up entirely of long static shots of natural scenes. The drama, or life, of the film, would come out of seeing the constant minute changes in the scene presented: the fluctuating of tree branches, ripples on the still surface of water, mist hanging over a field, and the like.

Crystal Images II is dedicated with love to Cornelia, Dominik, and their son Balthasar. Anecdotally, the slight variations in length of the sound images and their various textures derive from the birth dates of the three dedicatees.