Spring 2023 Concert

CECM Spring 2023 Concert - Program Notes

This concert was streamed by IUMusicLive! on April 23, 2023. We would like to thank Tony Tadey for operating the cameras, encoding the stream, and providing technical advice. Kevin Shima led the team of students who mixed our 8-channel live sound to stereo for the stream.

Chloe Liuyan Liu: Culture is the Body IV: Toward the Ground

The interactive music series Culture is the Body is a response to the Japanese theatre director Tadashi Suzuki’s book of the same title. Suzuki’s insistence on the use of animal energy in theatre impactfully calls for a reevaluation of our relationship with our body in the modern world. Stomping on the floor is the starting point in Suzuki’s training method. It is through stomping that our body establishes a communication with the ground, anew, and therefore encourages a stronger body awareness.

In an age where technology is rapidly advancing, I urge us to pause and reflect on our physical existence through this interactive music series. Can we still feel our body? Can we bring our body with us into the next development of technology? In Toward the Ground, the fourth exploration of Culture is the Body, two performers explore the physical energy through stomping. Their stomping is in a constant interaction with triggered electronic music. I want to express my deepest thanks to Drew Neal for this pleasant and inspiring collaboration. Drew’s personality as a percussionist and artist provided the crucial direction for this work. While we did not have the fortune to be strictly trained in Suzuki’s method, we created this work using our basic body’s instincts in the hope to bring the animal energy back to the stage and ordinary life.

I humbly present this work in homage to Tadashi Suzuki and in dedication to Mr. Derek Roberts and Mrs. Robin Roberts.

Eunji Lee: Memories in Summer Night

Memories in Summer Night is inspired by warm summer evenings, when the days are hot, but the nights are cool. I have many fond memories of spending summers in the countryside, looking up at the starry sky, and listening to the delightful sounds of grasshoppers and seeing the occasional shooting star. Even last summer in Bloomington, I was enchanted by the fireflies that filled the forest. By listening to my piece, you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of warm summer nights and recall your own cherished memories.

hunter t. johnson: i never had hope in another

i never had hope in another is a highly personalized reflection on loneliness as seen through the lenses of both faith and technology. These ideas have always been deeply intertwined in my life. As a choral singer, much of my artistic life and work has been dedicated to ensembles and congregations. By contrast, my composing is an inherently lonely endeavor, and i often find myself confronting my worries, fears, doubts, joys, and sorrows alone in my room. In times like these, it is often my phone that i turn to: an object of instantaneous connection and profound loneliness. i never had hope in another seeks to connect these disparate parts of me and to encourage them to engage with each other. The text is taken from the responsory that Thomas Tallis set in his work Spem in alium, a stunning (and massive) 40-part vocal motet. In looking at this legendary work, however, i was most taken with the text. i found myself confronted by the words: i never had hope in another. This piece was born out of my attempt to understand why those words ring so true to me, especially when removed from the context of faith. What does it mean to simply not have hope? To be alone? Is it possible to not have hope and to still be okay? To be alone and happy? i certainly don’t answer these questions with my music, but i ask them; to me, that is just as important.

Isaac Smith: Monomyth

The monomythor “Hero’s Journey,” is a storytelling trope that dates back thousands of years. It is made up of simple, familiar archetypes, and yet it can be realized in so many different ways that we still see retellings in film and television today. When I began collaborating with sci-fi/fantasy author Nicholas Walls, we discussed the salience of the monomyth, and imagined together what story of a heroic journey might be told millions of years in the future. From that mixture of looking forward and backward comes this piece for alto and live electronics. The primary sonic material is a recording of a theorbo (a bass lute popularized in the Renaissance), broken apart and reconstructed by machine learning. Old sounds are recast and revitalized, but the story stays the same. Below is a truncated version of the original text by Walls.

An age of wonder turned to darkness, things fall apart.
Toppled thrones and broken crowns, riders and their horses lay still upon the ground.
Mad machine gods rage, the center cannot hold.
Duty remains, Hope still rides!
Knight of shining metal form with human heart,
final hope cradled in their chest.
I cannot stop, I cannot be still. Duty remains, Hope still rides.
Mad machine gods rage, bringing final days.
A star in the night, through thundering storms,
creeping vines.
The vines reach, darkness binding, choking life.
Come, stay, rest forever. Never leave.
Vision dim, final spark alight. Duty remains, Hope yet rides!
A new star born, a lighthouse in the dark.
Mad machine gods rage, their works undone.

Alexander Toth: binalry rivocular

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Ariel Sol Bertulfo Schwartz: Open Road

Please vote live at itempool.com/openroad/live.

The bar on the left side of the screen shows how much time remains in the voting period.

Open Road is an audience-operated surreal driving simulation (fun). Will you follow the GPS?

Xinglan Deng: Bird, Water, Sin

“The water is sin.”

The music is inspired by the primary themes of Hieronymus Bosch, the 15th century Dutch painter. In his Garden of Earthly Delights, an avian monster is consuming humans and then excreting simultaneously straight into the sewer where others are already drowning in filth. The music aims to develop from the machine learning perspective, the human body is the first stage before consumption. The chanting from the church seeks purification, the water is still pure. The element of purification is decomposing and deconstructing in latent space. As time passes, it becomes increasingly fragmented, with the repetition of bird and water elements deepening the theme of sin. I seek a new perspective from AI in understanding what is sin in this piece.

Special thanks to my performers Shuyi Li (soprano), Valentina Huang (organ), and Shuyu Lin who helped a lot with my piece.

Xiaogang Xiang: Asphyxia

People have been suffering from Covid-19 since 2020. Unfortunately, I am one of them who got this symptom twice. While I was sick, there were many hallucinations created in my brain, and they were trying to make me as weak as possible. I could not breathe. I could not breathe... I feel that I was lucky to be able to recover from it. Thus, it is meaningful to me to remember how I was feeling and what I saw during that period, through the use of electronic music techniques.

Huan Sun: And the glaciers echoed

And the glaciers echoed is inspired by Katie Paterson’s installation entitled “Vatnajokull (the sound of).” She used a waterproof microphone that transmitted, via cellular telephone, live sound from the Jökulsárlón lagoon in Iceland, the largest glacier in Europe. This microphone call encouraged people to connect emotionally with melting glaciers. The call made us see how dramatically climate change damages the glaciers. However, this call no longer exists, meaning glaciers have already melted away.

This installation touched me a lot, and I got interested in researching how melting glaciers happen tremendously worldwide. I cannot even imagine how bad the following national disasters would be after melting glaciers. “In 2016, a four-thousand-foot previously frozen mountain slope in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve collapsed, unleashing a flood of rock and mud over nearly nine square miles of glaciers. The release was so massive it was equivalent to a magnitude 5.2 earthquake…” I felt astonished and suffocated by this research about the glacier. Thus, I want to mark the process of melting glaciers through music.

During my music, you can hear the scattered dripping sound, the cracking sound, the “echos” of glaciers (you could also see it as a whale’s sound), the calving sound of glaciers, and the collapsing sound, etc.

Lastly, thanks to Conner Viets for helping me record all the original musical resources with percussion.

Alexey Logunov: Let’s play together?

doppelgänger phenomenon has existed for centuries in mythology, literature, visual art, and later cinema and television. It is about the idea of a biologically unrelated look-alike, or a double, of a living person (usually considered an evil version of the original). So far, I’ve never met one in my life. However, if I meet him (or them) one day, the first thing I will ask would be: “Let’s play together?”

Zouning (Anne) Liao: hypothetical particles

Hypothetical particles in physics are particles that have not yet been proven to exist by observation. However, these phenomena are necessary for consistency within a given physical theory. In this piece, I explore the phenomenon through the interaction between light and sound particles. Amplitudes of the lights trigger changes in music, which reveal connections between the natural and synthetic sound worlds.

The light instrument is a handmade digital photo controller consisting of 16 light-dependent resistors. This is a replica of light.void~, designed by recent IU alumnus Felipe Tovar-Henao, based on Leafcutter John’s light thing.

This piece is dedicated to Felipe Tovar-Henao, who is a good friend, an important mentor, and a crucial source of inspiration that motivated me to pursue music composition.