When MATA invited me to curate the second installment of the Interval series, I knew immediately what I wanted the focus of the program to be. It’s been such a pleasure to organize this concert which features composers that are influenced and inspired by non Western musical sources. By immersing in the rich and deep musical traditions of Southeast Asian, African, and Karnatic music, each composer has created their own personal musical language and body of work which possesses the essence and utilizes various concepts from each tradition. However, rather than creating a superficial snapshot or a cheap imitation, each composer is creating an unclassifiable new distinctive music inspired from their own very personal relationships of having direct experiences and contact within these traditions.
By internalizing and incorporating various elements and concepts of non Western music (of form, structure, rhythm, pitch/ tuning systems, performance practices/methods), studying and playing alongside with master musicians, and drawing connections from their own multifarious musical backgrounds, the music presented on this program by these composers is diverse, vibrant, and exciting. In programming these works together, the program’s aim is to broaden an interest and appreciation for new voices of contemporary music, to continue and stimulate the dialogue of cross cultural fertilization of non Western musical idioms in the creation of new music, and to celebrate the very spirit of music making.
The cello+percussion duo Odd Appetite (Ha-Yang Kim and Nathan Davis) will perform Kebyar Untai by composer/percussionist Nathan Davis. In Davis’ words, “Kebyar Untai is scored for amplified cello and hammered dulcimer, tuned in microtones and partially prepared with objects between the strings. It is cast in two large sections, each introduced by a kebyar and developing its distilled material. A kebyar (literally “lightning” in Indonesian) is a structure in Balinese gamelan music distinguished by explosive unison passages. Many of the gestures are conceived as persistent actions attempting to overcome or smooth a resistance.”
The FLUX Quartet will perform Moving Houses by composer/percussionist Lukas Ligeti. As the composer writes, “the title refers to an activity not uncommon in the Western U.S.: entire houses are put on trucks and moved from one location to another. In this piece, simple theme, stated at the beginning by violin and cello, recurs throughout; it is taken on a trip through different musical environments, much like the house being transported across varying landscapes. References are made to numerous musics that are styles of Mandé jelis (griots) of Western Africa as played on instruments such as the kora, balafon, or ngoni, a richly ornamented style of heptatonic music, the beauty of which has fascinated me since my first trips to Africa and has inspired my melodic imagination. Also present are Gypsy fiddling from the Szék region of present-day Romania, Hardanger fiddling from Norway, Sabar drumming from Senegal, the music of Miles Davis’ early electric period, and, embedded into the contrapuntal structure, the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby. The gradually-changing overtone spectra of filter-sweeps popular in today’s techno/electronica musics are also emulated. The result is a heterophonic music whose emotional content lives in its melodies; a view onto a constantly-changing musical landscape, all the while remaining within the “four walls” of the original, ever-recurring theme.”
The program also presents composer/bagpiper Matthew Welch in the world premiere of a new work for cello+percussion duo Odd Appetite. In addition, the acclaimed FLUX Quartet will perform Siubhal Turnlar, a string quartet which brings together Gaelic music in the form of bagpipe melodies and interlocking Indonesian gamelan principles into a beautiful portrait of an “undiscovered, fictional world music tradition.” Welch’s long time involvement with both traditional Highland Bagpipe and Indonesian gamelans, in addition to his collaborations with improvisation, multimedia, and rock formations, has led him to create a diverse range of work that brings together his various influences in uniquely surprising ways.
Composer/cellist and curator, Ha-Yang KIm will perform two of her own works, Oon and Samtak, with her cello+percussion duo Odd Appetite. Both pieces reflect her involvement and deep fascination in Balinese gamelan and South Indian classical (Karnatic) music, in addition to improvisation, electronic music and extended string techniques. The pieces incorporate amplified cello with rock effects pedals, and a wide array of pitched and non-pitched percussion, including large gongs, microtonal glockenspiel, cup gongs and tuned aluminum pipes. An exciting, imaginative and charged personal language of music, both pieces are an aural and visual delight of the senses. In addition to curating and presenting/performing her own work for the January 25th event, Kim will also be performing as a special guest with the FLUX Quartet.
In addition, the improv trio of Marco Cappelli (guitars), Ha-Yang Kim (cello) and Lukas Ligeti (balafon) will perform in between sets. This trio began playing together two years ago and share their passion for music in a wide overlap of contemporary music, non western music idioms, noise, extended techniques, acoustical phenomena, alternate tunings, electronics, rock, jazz and other things that defy descriptions.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Ha-Yang Kim made her professional solo debut at age 16 with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. A cellist, composer, and improvisor, she has developed a unique language of extended string techniques and has created her own music based on this work. Her musical influences draw equally from a range of western classical music, American experimentalism, rock, jazz and improvised music, to non-western musical sources. She is the founder of Odd Appetite, a cello-percussion duo which performs and commissions new contemporary works alongside original works and improvisations. In seeking new musical experiences, Ha-Yang has performed traditional and new Balinese music, studied Karnatic music concepts, and has worked with many diverse musicians and bands such as Evan Ziporyn, Cecil Taylor, John Zorn, Christian Wolff, Lee Hyla, The National, Louis Andriessen, Alvin Lucier, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Lukas Ligeti, Larry Polansky, and Stefan Poetzsch, in addition to collaborations in dance, theatre, film, and multi-media. Ama, a CD of her own compositions is released on Tzadik. She has also recorded for New World, Cold Blue, Beggars Banquet, New Albion, Karnatic Lab and Bridge Records. She has toured the US, Europe, Russia, Cuba, Bali , Turkey, and has appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall. Kim is also a frequent artist- in- residence at universities. Currently, she is composing a new program of works to be presented at Roulette later this Spring. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.