1. anticipation, 2. where lost memories gather, 3. garden of soft shadows, 4. love thyself, 5. of ever lingering light
“As a second-generation Chinese American (now also Canadian), the issue of cultural self-identity has always been somewhat perplexing. In previous works for mixed Chinese and Western chamber ensemble I used my music as a medium to address this issue head on. In contrast, my most recent work, entitled Small and Curious Places, puts aside the question of East vs. West and instead approaches the ensemble as a group of individual instruments and their unique characteristics, with none more distinct or exotic than the others. There is no grand, overarching statement in this work; contrarily, the movements are independent of one another, and mostly quite introspective. Each movement is a self-contained miniature, an exploration of a particular sound space.
The imaginary and peculiar places of this collection are inspired by various imagery, captured moments or states of mind. In the first movement, “anticipation,” continuously surging momentum provides a framework for the expansion of a single line into increasingly rich, dense and unexpected harmonic sonorities. The second movement, “where lost memories gather” introduces a texture of glassy, static string clusters from which isolated musical gestures emerge and submerge again. “Garden of soft shadows” has a limited timbral palette and is characterized by soft whispering and scuttling sounds that evoke a sense of quiet unease. The following movement, “love thyself,” is built up of very short musical bits and fragments that pile up until pent-up energy at last erupts. The last movement is a meditation on the tenuous moment just as waking becomes slumber. “Of ever lingering light” is the imaginary place where one might capture this fleeting moment and prolong it, hovering indefinitely within this elusive space. Small and Curious Places was commissioned by Soundstreams.”