Music From Asia – Composer Bios and Program Notes

Posted in Uncategorized by SYZYGYNEWMUSIC on October 6, 2011

Music From Asia| China and Hong Kong
with guest performers duYun and Li Liqun

7 October, 2011 @ Chambers Fine Art (522 W 19th St)
7PM Door/7:30PM Show
$15 Suggested Donation

Angel Lam is a music composer and a poet. She blends the sonic beauty of musical instruments and language to express refined emotions and her passion for life. In 2009 she had the honor to be commissioned by Carnegie Hall to write a cello concerto for Yo-Yo Ma and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, dedicated to Carnegie Hall’s city wide festival—Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture. She has been voted by Musical America as “Artist of the Month”, Yale University Yale Alumni Magazine as “Yalie of the Week”, and is a featured artist in Best Buy Inc.’s Creative Minds.  Her music is praised as “An otherworldly, dreamily poetic short story…rich, singing tone and sense of drama” (New York Times), “mesmerized…” (Financial Times). Ms. Lam was awarded a Henry and Lucy Moses full scholarship Artist Diploma from Yale University in 2010, and a Doctoral Degree in Musical Arts from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in 2011.  Ms. Lam is currently working on a music theater commission for the 2012 Hong Kong Arts Festival.

Her composition Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain, commissioned by Carnegie Hall, has been on Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble’s world-wide music tours since 2007; the work was also a featured piece in the CD Off the Map, which was recently nominated for a GRAMMY Award in 2011. Tomorrow evening, SYZYGY NEW MUSIC percussionist Frank Tyl and guitarist Jordan Dodson will be performing its companion piece, Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain II, about which Ms. Lam has said, “the music is the sublimation of the text.”


The conceptual and multifaceted composer/conductor Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world’s music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions. A winner of today’s most prestigious honors including the Grammy Award, Oscar/Academy Award, Grawemeyer Award for classical composition and Musical America’s Composer of The Year, Tan Dun’s music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on the radio and television. Tan Dun’s individual voice has been heard by wide audiences. His first Internet Symphony, which was commissioned by Google/YouTube has reached over 15 million people online. His compositions have opened venues and toured the world, and have received countless awards and honors. For Tan Dun the marriage of composition and inspiration has always culminated in his operatic creations.

Silk Road is a section of a collaborative performance work with New Mexico poet Arthur Sze commissioned by the Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Art; based on his long poem “The Silk Road.” It was first performed by Joan LaBarbera and Christopher Shultis, and tomorrow will be performed by Amanda Gregory and Frank Tyl. The rhythms of English verse are combined with the tonal qualities of Peking Opera, in a linear structure like the connected brush-strokes of calligraphy.


Danielle Eva Schwob is a New York-based but London-born composer, guitarist, and singer/songwriter whose work spans concert and popular idioms.  Her music has been described as “satisfyingly dark” (Sequenza21) and “an emotional exorcism” (SonicScoop), and can be characterized by a thoughtful demeanour as well as focused melodies and coloristic choices.  In summer 2011 she released her debut EP as a singer/songwriter, Overloaded.  Co-produced with Ido Zmishlany and available for download through iTunes and Amazon, the record is inspired by the pace of the modern day world and the complex relationships that come with it.  She was also recently awarded a Con Edison/Exploring the Metropolis Musician’s Residency at the Church Street School for Music and Art, during which she will be working on commissions for NOISEBOX and The Deviant Septet as well as arranging her songs for an upcoming collaborative performance with SYZYGY NEW MUSIC.  Other recent/upcoming projects include: a series of shows with her band in support of her EP; a performance by The Nouveau Classical Project at MATA’s Interval series; participating as a finalist in MATA/MMNY’s Composition Workshop; serving as Co-Artistic Director/Founder of SYZYGY NEW MUSIC; and playing guitar for a wide variety of performances and recording sessions throughout New York City.  Danielle’s work as a performer and composer has been featured internationally at venues including Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Galapagos Art Space, Issue Project Room, The Laurie Beechman Theatre, The Royal Albert Hall, The Crowden Music Center and Manhattan School of Music.  It has been featured on NPR’s blog and broadcast on MNN, earning her additional awards from The Margaret Sanders Foundation, NYU and MSU.  She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree from NYU.

Her piece Breathing Underwater – performed by harpist Arielle, flutist Sarah Carrier, and violist Andy Lim – was written after the composer visited China several years ago. “Eager to escape the summer bustle of Beijing and Shanghai, I spent a lot of time wandering through the cities’ traditional gardens, many of which were boasted magnificent bodies of water. Kunming Lake, for example, was one of my favourites, stretching its lily-padded surface for miles against a backdrop of pagoda-topped hills at the Summer Palace.  Following behind closely were the Imperial Gardens of the Forbidden City, which were bordered by a wide moat and filled with peony-lined streams and pools of still water. The combination of the heat and seemingly endless stretches of concrete within the cities made these gardens feel like oases, offering brief moments of respite from the urban environment. Breathing Underwater attempts to translate the serenity of these water-filled gardens into music.  Drawing upon harmonic and melodic elements as well as orchestration techniques of Chinese music while incorporating my own influences, I have tried to portray a Westerner’s view of a traditional garden.  It is my hope that I have done justice to the Chinese aesthetic, communicating a flattering view of a culture that is of significant personal interest.”


A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Vivian Fung has distinguished herself among the foremost composers of her generation.  Since earning her doctorate from The Juilliard School in 2002, Fung has increasingly embraced non-classical influences, including jazz and non-Western sources such as Indonesian gamelan and folk songs from the minority regions of China.  The New York Times has described her work as “evocative,” and The Strad hailed her music as being “as vital as encountering Steve Reich or the Kronos Quartet for the first time.” Fung’s Pizzicato for String Quartet was hailed as “the most memorable part” of the Ying Quartet’s 2009 concert at Weill Recital Hall by the New York Times, and was frequently performed by the quartet over the next two seasons.  Ms Fung has an impressive body of compositions commissioned and performed by such ensembles as the Seattle Symphony, San José Chamber Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Afiara String Quartet, Music from China, and American Opera Projects to name a few. She is the 2010 New York Foundation for the Arts’ Gregory Millard Fellow and has s received numerous awards and grants from ASCAP, BMI, American Music Center, American Composers’ Forum, and the Canada Council for the Arts.  Fung has been composer-in-residence of the Music in the Loft chamber music series in Chicago, the San José Chamber Orchestra, Music Teachers’ Association of California, and the Billings Symphony.  She has also completed residencies at the MacDowell, Yaddo, and Banff arts colonies, as well as two residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

This evening’s performance of Vivian Fung’s Chanted Rituals marks the piece’s New York premiere, performed by trumpeter Andy Kozar and percussionists Sean Statser and Frank Tyl. Chanted Rituals is in three movements, played without pause.  The essence of this piece relates to the act of chanting, whether in a dance, a prayer, or a chase.  The trumpet in this work is the central instrument to deliver each chant, and the percussion provides rhythmic and melodic support for it.  The first movement, “Dance,” is inspired by jazz and rock.  The second movement, “Prayer,” uses Flugelhorn as the basis for stating the melody and is inspired by chants heard in Buddhist temples.  The last movement, “Chase,” drives the work to a fast and energetic close through use of constant repeated notes and changing meters.


Guest Artist Feature: Du Yun and Li Liqun

Posted in Uncategorized by SYZYGYNEWMUSIC on October 1, 2011

Music From Asia| China and Hong Kong
featuring composer/performer duYun and yangqin virtuoso Li Liqun

7 October, 2011 @ Chambers Fine Art (522 W 19th St)
7PM Door/7:30PM Show
$15 Suggested Donation

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, currently based in NYC, Du Yun is an internationally-performed composer. Hailed by the New York Times as “cutting-edge… to whom the term ‘young composer’ could hardly do justice;” “heralds a significant voice” (Financial Times); “re-invents herself daily… so does her music,” (TimeOut-NYC), “…the strongest impression made yet, a political statement against oppression and violence;” (by De Rode Leeuw, Amsterdam), and “…one senses the exceptional ear, exploration and the results are impeccably powerful” (by Le Devoir, Montreal), her music exists at an artistic crossroads of orchestral, chamber music, opera, theatre, cabaret, storytelling, pop music, visual arts and noise. NPR has recently voted her as one of 100 composers under 40. Also as an avid performer, her onstage persona has been described by the New York Times as “an indie pop diva with an avant-garde edge,” and “flamboyant” by the Chicago Tribune.

Shark in You is Du Yun’s debut recording under her pop diva alter ego, duYun.  Recorded and produced in New York, Shanghai, and Montreal, Shark in You features duYun as a composer, producer, lyricist, and vocalist. The tracks are stylistically far ranging, from experimental dance music to Kurt Weill-esque neo-cabaret to jazz inflected electronica. She is joined by collaborators spanning the avant-garde global music spectrum, from fellow members of ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), to experimental DJ Erik Spangler, and musicians in the underground Shanghai jazz scene. Click here to listen to samples and purchase the album in multiple formats.

For her performance with SYZYGY NEW MUSIC, Du Yun will be joined by Gareth Flowers (trumpet) and Phil Moffa (drum machine/electronics).

Liqun Li, a yangqin (hammered dulcimer) soloist, is a member of the National Orchestra of China. She graduated with honor from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Currently Ms. Li is the honored Overseas Board Member of the Chinese Professional YangQin Committee. She is a Music Lecturer at New York University, and a member of the Music Teachers National Association U.S.A. In 1995, Ms. Li won the second prize at the “International Chinese Instrument Solo Competition” in Beijing. Ms. Li has performed and given lectures in many countries throughout Europe, Asia and North America. Since Ms. Li came to the United States, she has performed at the Smithsonian Museum (Freer Gallery), Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Yale University, George Washington University, New York University, Columbia University, Harvard University and Connecticut University among others, gaining high recognition from all audiences and institutions. Ms. Li has also been invited to perform with a number of highly recognized Chinese Music groups in North America including the New York Chinese Cultural Center, Music From China, Chinese Performing Arts of North America, and Melody of Dragon, as a special guest for events and festivals in many different cities throughout the United States. In 1998, Ms. Li was invited by the New York State Governor to perform at the Asian Culture and Heritage Festival Ceremony. In addition, Ms. Li has been a guest speaker on and been interviewed by a number of TV stations and radio stations. Additionally, her performances have been broadcasted by those stations to the whole nation.

Click here to listen to samples of Li Liqun performing.

The yangqin (or Chinese hammered dulcimer) was originally from the Middle East and Persia. Its appearance in China occurred sometime during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) where it became known as the Yangqin and quickly became absorbed into Chinese traditional music. It is appreciated for its numerous abilities including easily blending with other instruments, supporting vocalists and as a solo instrument capable of a great range of nuance and expression.