The Looming Sky

How long will we live in this leaf-strewn place, thinking we belong to the sky?

  -Susan Stewart

The Looming Sky is a composition in two connected movements for violin, viola, cello and piano. After reading Susan Stewart’s Poem from Hölderlin, images of shadowy, dim and unclear scenes of nature became pictured in my mind. This imagery reminded me of a past trip to the Western United States where during my stay I was surrounded by nature...trees, flowers, weeds, rocks and unknown insects. 

When entering the enormity of this world of wild living things, a single human being seems very small. I couldn’t help but pay tremendous attention to the beings around me: the sound of birds chirping in the bushes, the distant winds blowing across open fields, and the smell of the decaying grass and insects from weeks ago. These primitive surroundings led me to be in the state of mind full of uncertainty. I wondered how many different things are happening simultaneously at this moment in the world, both near and far? What would become of them as they develop in the next moment?

In this work, The Looming Sky, I use the strings and piano to reflect this awe and wonderment through musical means. Hopefully, we all can reflect and find similar experiences in our own unique and unpredictable adventures. 

  • violin, viola, cello and piano
  • Duration: ca. 7 minutes
 

The Silent Flame

The Silent Flame is a four-movement composition for solo horn and piano (chamber orchestra is also available). It is a work designed to explore the technical facility and unique musical characteristics of the French horn.  The French horn carries a unique and exceptional sonority that enables the audience to experience an unusual musical journey. 

Combined with piano, the horn can be presented not only as a solo instrument of subtle poetic beauty but also an instrument of great symphonic effect. The collaboration of these two instrumental bodies presents an extraordinary and inexhaustible medium for composers to express their ideas. With this in mind, I decided to write a work for this most appealing sound world.

The two words in the title “silent” and “flame” are conceived as metaphors to express different meanings, images or emotions. “Silent” can be implied as an unspoken voice, an inactive behavior or movement, a condition of refraining from speech by producing no detectable signs. The word “ flame” suggests a state of mind full of desires and intense passions evoked from its direct meaning: the condition of active, blazing combustion.  Putting these two words together presents a vast array of artistic possibilities dealing with the energy of conflicts, agitation and excitement.  In each movement, I explore the unique colors and strengths of solo horn and the piano to reflect two emotional states: the battle between having and longing, and restraint versus passion. Perhaps through the musical development of this work, The Silent Flame, we can reflect and find similar experiences in our own unique journeys through our ever engaging, unpredictable, but rewarding lives. 

  • Horn and piano
  • Duration: ca. 15 minutes
  • This work is also scored for solo horn and chamber orchestra. Click here
 

Percussion Quartet

In the summer of 2007, when I went back to my home country Taiwan, I saw a program on television that documented a native Taiwanese New Years celebration. These native people live in the valleys and mountains of Taiwan with their own customs and traditions that have been passed down through generations.  I found this very inspiring and was thankful that my country is working to keep these traditions alive. 

During that time, the A.I.R. Percussion Quartet approached me for a new work. While researching and composing, I became very fascinated with the incredible sound that percussion instruments can make and amazed at the depth and beauty of these instruments. The many percussion instruments covering the whole spectrum of sound proved to be a great stimulus. 

With this in mind, my Percussion Quartet is dedicated to the wonderful musicians of the A.I.R. Percussion Quartet and the native peoples of Taiwan.

  • Four percussions
  • Duration: ca. 12 minutes
 

Song of the Wanderer

The world of art music has long been divided into two camps. On one side is the belief that music is meant to express and revel in our innermost human emotions.  On the other, that music must be appreciated for itself and it only, detached from the bonds of our emotions and human frailties. In the never ending quest of expression and self-discovery often times we composers take journeys through both camps. Song of the Wanderer in its unfolding reflects one such journey. Here the wanderer, like a falling seed carried far from its home by the westward wind, looks for a place to land and take root. The destination…unknown, but the journey, oh so rewarding. 

  • Clarinet and piano
  • Duration: ca. 12 minutes
  • This work is also scored for solo clarinet and orchestra. Click here
 

The Desires

When you see for the first time the title, The Desires, for solo viola and string nonet, you may be wondering what are these desires? What perspective should one take?   This title is intentionally subjective. What desires do you have in your life? Money?    Power? Happiness? Maybe you desire peace and a break from daily routines. In the end, the only way to find the true answer is by participating in life. 

Living in the United States has helped me look at my country, Taiwan, differently. I now have a strong desire to rediscover my own heritage. With this new desire, little by little I am finding the answers to my role as composer and more importantly a human being.

  • solo viola and two string quartets with double bass
  • Duration: ca. 19 minutes
  • This work is also scored for solo viola and string orchestra/chamber orchestra. Click here
 

Rhapsody of Seasons

Rhapsody of Seasons, for string quartet in its development reflects my perception of    nature. When I hear, smell, taste, see, and touch the wonders of this world I cannot help but marvel at the incredible gift of life. This is especially true when seasons change. During these times I find myself to be very anxious and often wonder what twist and turns nature has in store.

  • String quartets
  • Duration: ca. 13 minutes