Chen Yi

About this work:
I. The Talking Fiddle (4:23) II. Making the Hand-Pulled Noodles (4:38) III. Blue Dragon Sword Dance (4:58) Commissioned by the Hanson Institute for American Music of the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester for the Ying Quartet to perform on the No Boundaries concert series at the Symphony Space in New York, the work is dedicated to Prof. Chou Wen-chung, the mentor of the composer, for his 80th birthday’s celebration. The work is also funded in part by the Copying Assistance Program of the American Music Center. The first movement is premiered at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, 10/18/02. The New York premiere of the whole work is given at Symphony Space, NYC, on May 2, 2003. The work consists three movements, which are inspired by the impressive programs that I have seen at a Chinese New Year celebration concert in Kansas City, together with my composition students from UMKC in 2000, presented by the organizations in our local Chinese community. In the first movement of my string quartet, I use the viola to imitate the Chinese fiddle erhu which was performed at the KC concert. It could play the tunes like human beings talking in Chinese, to greet the audience vividly. The other instruments in the quartet join in, to create the sound from the responding crowd in a celebrating mood. In the second movement, I use music to review the excellent performance of the hand-pulled noodles making. The delicate art form is originated in Henan province in northern China, and the masters have performed the show everywhere around the world, not only to introduce the method of making the food, but also to share the culture with others. I compose a fixed tune with the pitch material taken from the folk music of Henan area, and use it as the repeated pattern in the background, while the major melodic lines are played in the foreground in different keys and tempo. I got the inspiration from the method that I have learned from my work as a concertmaster in the Beijing Opera orchestra in China many years ago. The form applying this method is called Xing Xian, in which a small group of instruments often plays a repeated simple fixed tune in the background, to accompany the dialogues on stage, or solo instrumental performances in the orchestra. The third movement reflects the dramatic scene of the moving gestures in Chinese sword dance, sometimes still, but sometimes speedy and alert. The string quartet has drawn both pitch and rhythmic materials from Chinese folk music in various styles, and borrowed performing techniques from Chinese traditional instruments such as erhu (bowing), pipa (plucking), dizi (blowing), percussion, and even singing, while the virtuosic writing in the western art form is kept idiomatically and effectively. Published by Theodore Presser Company [114-41198], recorded on Quartz.
Version: String quartet
Year composed: 2002
Duration: 00:12:00
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:String Quartet

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