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Abstract

As I mentioned earlier several times in the program notes of my recent works, my reencounter with the various kinds of literature on Korean traditional folk songs at the East Asian Collections of the Joseph Regenstein Library, in the summer of 2013, gave me the invaluable opportunity to rethink and reevaluate the nature of Korean folk melodies. The encounter with these folk tunes eventually led me to conceive a series entitled Ma’ŭm [soul]. Until now, only the first two compositions of the series had been written – Ma’ŭm (I) for clarinet quintet (2013-14) and Ma’ŭm (II) for sextet (2014). While my primary concern in Ma’ŭm was to explore the Korean folk tunes’ potential to harmonize with contemporary Western tonal idioms, in Kiŏk [Remembrance], the piano concerto that will be performed tonight, I paid more attention to a narrative on which the piece’s form and structure were constructed. Consequently the folk tunes used in the piece tend to be subordinated to the narrative, playing a role only as the piece’s tonal frame. The narrative adopted in Kiŏk was made up in memory of the Sewol ferry disaster: on the morning of 16 April 2014, a ferry en route from Incheon to Jeju Island capsized, causing over 300 casualties. Many of the passengers were students. In this piece, rather than attempting to musically narrate the whole incident, I concentrated on the psychological description of a high school student victim’s father. I came up with the idea from his interview with a broadcasting company in which I noticed his complex psychological variation, due to the grief for his lost daughter. In Kiŏk, the solo piano part acts as a medium that conveys the father's stream of consciousness, while at the same time shaping the piece into a three-part form with a lengthy slow introduction and a twinkling, timbral transition. The second main section, which is slow and full of the solo piano’s colorful sonority, generated by its extended techniques, is reminiscent of the introduction – both express the father’s longing for his daughter – but has extremely different tonal material. The first and third main sections, which are both fast in tempo and have similar phrase structure, tone material and orchestration, describe the abrupt changes of the father’s various emotions, while continuously trying not to lose their bright and positive energy, an expression of the father's entrenched hope and love.

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