Program Notes — May 2, 2023

Daixuan Ai: Pandora’s Box

The idea for this piece is pretty simple: the voice triggers the electronics, and each time it’s slightly or drastically different, like opening up Pandora’s box. The reactions from the electronics get more and more distorted and mysterious toward the end, losing its original innocence.

Sy Anderson: White Wool of Hollowed Whole

Yeoul Choi: Shall we cook?

I have a passion for cooking, and I often find myself spending more time in the kitchen than at my composing desk. Cooking for others brings me great joy and satisfaction. One day, I had a realization that the process of cooking and the process of composing music share many similarities. Just as choosing various ingredients carefully and combining them well, processing them, and making a perfect plate with all my heart were very similar to the way I usually compose music. With this in mind, I decided to incorporate cooking sounds into my musical creations. By recording and processing the sounds of my own cooking, I was able to use them as a source of inspiration for my compositions. I transformed these sounds using Max8 and Joy-con. I would like to invite you to join me in my kitchen. Shall we cook?

Joe Chrisman: The Whistle Piece

I despise my upstairs neighbor. She sings opera music, stomps, and does her laundry all at 1 in the morning. After many noise complaints and polite warnings, nothing fundamentally has changed. As a result, I decided to practice whistling and flute-clarinet (playing the clarinet like a flute without a mouthpiece) so my neighbor can walk in my size 13.5 sneakers (I have disproportionatly large feet and hands). What better thing to do than to add electronic effects, string-synth drones, horrifying breathing noises, and drums!

Collin David:

Xinyuan Deng: Phantom of Yu

Phantom of Yu utilizes the Syntien Data-Driven Software on iPad to create a mesmerizing and dynamic listening experience. The piece draws inspiration from traditional Chinese opera, and Yu is the short name for Henan province. The piece begins with a piano’s sparse and atmospheric soundscape, featuring ethereal textures and haunting melodies. As the piece progresses, Syntien is used to manipulate and transform the sounds, creating intricate and evolving patterns that blend together in a mesmerizing and immersive wall of sound. Throughout the piece, there are moments of contrast and tension, as the sounds shift and transform in unpredictable ways. At its core, Phantom of Yu is a journey through sound and emotion, drawing the listener in and taking them on a surreal and otherworldly experience.

Seth Goot: Cartoons

This piece is an original composition, including a flugelhorn that serve as the main harmony, piano, trumpet, vocal elements, and electronic drums. The goal of this piece is to act as a solid foundation sonically for more drastic effects processing in Max. Filters, granulation, resampling, and other effects will be used to manipulate the acoustic composition.

Ben Hoppe: Up North

This piece was inspired by the countless weeks I’ve spent at my grandparent’s house in northern Michigan over the years. Heading up there from Chicago is always an interesting journey, as the drive begins with the frenetic-ness of the city and slowly melts into a serene drive through the woods.

Inspiration for the synth-heavy electronics came from parts of the score of Mulholland Drive, David Lynch’s massively popular movie from 2001. In his score, Angelo Badalamenti often creates these surreal sonic pictures of the dreamlike story and feel of the film. This piece is an attempt to make something along those lines.

I wanted to create an ambient electronic background that sort of nurtures the piano solo. It highlights certain sonorities (many of which focusing on modality rather than clear key centers) while also contributing to moments of sharper attacks with bell-like jabs. I hope the piece brings a calmness that sticks with you after the final seconds of the piece.

Yao Hsiao: Consort Yu

In the piece Consort Yu, I got inspiration from the traditional Chinese Opera The Hegemon-King Bids His Lady Farewell, which is about the fight between two kings, Xiang Yu and Liu Bang. Xiang Yu is surrounded by Liu Bang’s forces and on the verge of total defeat. Realizing the dire situation that has befallen them, Xiang Yu’s wife, Consort Yu, begs to die alongside Xiang Yu, but he strongly refuses this wish. Afterwards, as he is distracted, Yu commits suicide with Xiang Yu’s sword.

I got some connections between traditional Chinese opera and contemporary electronic music. First, I use some similar timbres and rhythms the Chinese opera The Hegemon-King Bids His Lady Farewell used. Also, the musical use of unstable pulses, tempo rubato and voice glissando in Chinese opera can be connected with the color of contemporary music. In the voice part, I have traditional Chinese opera singing style for the whole piece. And I used some similar lines from the Chinese opera but changed some notes to add different colors. In the electronics, I sometimes imitate the rhythms the Chinese opera used with electronic timbre, and sometimes made different layers with granulated different singing styles in Chinese opera. Moreover, I have Leapmotion as my controller, so that I can have the gesture from Chinese opera performance control the music.


My lord is now sleeping quietly. I can go out of the tent for a walk to let go of my sorrow.

Oh, hold on! Why is there the singing of the state of Chu in the enemy’s village? What is the reason for this? Oh, my lord, my lord! I’m afraid that my lord is on the verge of total defeat!

Oh, my lord, my lord! So be it! I would like to use the sword of my lord to kill myself, so as not to become your burden!

Han soldiers have captured my territory, Besieged on all sides singing. The king’s spirit is exhausted, How can I survive!


Minho Kang: Transfiguration

No fixed media, every electronic sound you will hear is transfigured from the acoustic guitar. Funky strumming becomes a shaker through granular synthesis, and power chords became a spectral pad through FFT analysis.

Daroo Lee: Double Side

Behind the darkness, there is light, and amidst despair, there is hope. In places where anger and hatred seem to reign, there is understanding and acceptance, and though selfishness and neglect may appear to dominate, there is also compassion and sacrifice. Life may seem to be filled with falsehoods, but within it, there is a shining truth that ultimately prevails. Amidst the depths of despair, there is love that can lift us up. That is why life is worth living and we must continue to live it. Today, I too will live another day.

The music explores the dualities of life and reflects the contrasting emotions. It suggests that even in the darkest moments, there is always hope, love, and truth to be found, and that it is important to keep striving and living our lives to the fullest.

Yicheng Li: Taichi

This piece uses three parts: instrumental, real-time processing and mixed media. Tai Chi represents all the opposing but mutually inclusive elements in the world, everything in nature is constantly balancing and evolving on its own in contradiction, and so is human society. This work uses both dot and line violin materials in an attempt to express the process of fusion of opposing materials to form a natural sound and to express the concept of taichi.

Tony Mastroberti: Feelings Which Were

One of my goals with this piece was to depict tension and release between contrasting musical ideas, each of which represents a unique emotion. I explored various ways of creating dialogue between these ideas, alluding to the complexity of our feelings as people. The specific emotions represented in Feelings Which Were are open to interpretation.