Programme Notes

    A Curious Passerby at Fu’s Funeral premiered by the Turning Point Ensemble in Oct 2015 at the Orpheum Annex, Vancouver conducted by Owen Underhill This multi-movement work for large ensemble is a dramatic composition that inhabits a highly charged emotional landscape. Commissioned by Owen Underhill and The Turning Point Ensemble, it explores extreme ranges of heightened activity. The first movement surges forward with virtuosic exchanges between the piano and the percussion. This eventually develops into sections characterized by relentless repeated chords and gestures (“cortège” and “dirge”). The second movement begins with solo utterances in the oboe which serve as the introduction to a series of haunting shō-like chord clusters. I have been inspired by this beautiful multi-reed Japanese mouth organ’s unusual manner of sound production, where the performer inhales and exhales through the instrument, resulting in a cloud of sound. The unusual technique required for playing the shō, as well as its colourful array of pitches, have served as a key element in several of my compositions. In the second movement, the calmness of the shō-like section is interrupted by a forceful musical ‘incident.’ The movement ends with a peaceful musical moment that suggests a night sky filled with stars. The final movement brings A Curious Passerby at Fu’s Funeral to a propulsive conclusion with its inspiration taken from Asian drumming. This piece is inspired by my own imagined scenario that traverses the path between mysterious and explosive elements. A Curious Passerby At Fu’s Funeral was commissioned through the assistance of The Canada Council. — Alexina Louie