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11 mins
commissioned by Julia Glenn

I was deeply honored to be commissioned by Julia Glenn to compose a piece for inclusion in her album. During our initial discussion in 2021, we envisioned a composition for solo violin. However, as the creative process unfolded, it transformed into a more substantial work for baroque violin and electronics.


Our mutual fascination with the interplay between music and language served as the foundation for this collaboration. Julia's background in linguistics, combined with my experience in traditional Chinese poetry recitation, inspired me to venture into uncharted territory for this composition. I aimed to capture not only the traditional practice of poetry recitation but also the unique sound of the original language. Since I intended for the piece to be based on the Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai's《蜀道難》Shu Dao Nan, I needed to use reconstructed Middle Chinese pronunciations. 


In an effort to convey the 韻味 (feel) of the original work through music, this composition embraces three facets of the poetry: phonology, by translating the original phonology into violin writing; tonal structure, by incorporating the use of traditional recitation; and the emotive power and vivid imagery. In summary, my aim was to translate the entire experience of the original work into a medium devoid of language, allowing for a purely musical expression.

Premiered by Julia Glenn on March 3rd, 2023 at Brandeis University.

Album release coming soon.

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