Spring 2024 Concert

CECM Spring 2024 Concert - Program Notes

This concert was streamed by IUMusicLive! on April 21, 2024. 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.

Daixuan Ai: Ceremony for Earth

This meditation is a short version of a 30-minute meditation/improvisation set containing 5 phases: Coming Together, Cycle, Connection, Conflict, and Commitment.  This project was developed in collaboration with violinist Grace McKenzie, and it was designed for Bloomington Arts Alliance’s gallery show “Depictions: Earth, Life, and Our Shared Responsibility.”

Regarding this project, Grace says:

“This improvisation might most easily be described as a ‘musical performance’. Early research underlying this project included Dylan Robinson’s ‘Hungry Listening’ the ideas within which, might identify this label as a product of colonialism and Westernized listening. This project aims to illuminate other possibilities of listening, the vehicle of which is meditation; an invitation to listen with the whole body, exploring the purpose of sound beyond our societal conventions.”

Tony Mastroberti: Sunshower

Sunshower is a piece about contrasting elements and feelings. The various soundscapes present represent the intense yet peaceful, and potentially sporadic nature of a sun shower.

Corey Chang: Blurrd Be My Vision, My Thoughts

Blurrd be My Vision, My Thoughts delves into the intricate and often unsettling world of auditory hallucinations associated with neurocognitive disorders and mental illnesses. Throughout this piece, ethereal and sometimes disturbing sounds — including the imagined voices of children and child-like singing — echo from virtual instruments and recorded material, crafting a soundscape that mirrors the chaotic energy of a mind in distress.

Central to this composition is the protagonist, represented by the pianist, whose mental clarity hangs on by various repetitions of notes and phrases. The surrounding noise symbolizes the protagonist's descent into mental decline. As the piano becomes enveloped in the atmosphere, the fixed media intrudes with increasing dissonance and then envelops with a ghostly atmosphere, reflecting the hallucinations’ overwhelm on the brain.

Huan Sun: Shards of Distortion

Shards of Distortion draws inspiration from the immersive installation “Correspondence — Sphere” by Japanese artist Mink Shirakura. Shirakura’s work, constructed from collected off-cuts of mirror and plate glass, dynamically responds to its environment, shifting in appearance with changes in weather and time of day. Like a delicate cobweb, Shirakura’s installation embodies an intricate interplay of light, sound, and motion.

In crafting this composition, I sought to echo Shirakura’s exploration of responsive materials, employing recordings of various percussion instruments as my raw material. Much like assembling a puzzle, I intricately weave together these glassy percussive sounds, creating short motifs that interlace with electronic elements. The result is a sonic landscape where the boundaries between acoustic and electronic blur, inviting listeners to immerse themselves in a world of distortion and texture.

Special thanks to Thomas Frost for his patient recording assistance, which was instrumental in realizing the vision of this piece.

Minho Kang: Hiccups

Hiccups is a piece that explores the phenomenon of hiccups, a condition characterized by involuntary interruptions in talking and breathing. This piece captures their sudden and unpredictable occurrence, while also noting their regular recurrence.

What triggers hiccups and how can they be stopped?

Xinyuan Deng: Whisper in Motion

Whispers in Motion is an experimental collaboration with Lila Hodgin from the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance. Together, we invite you into a vibrant world where every touch on the kalimba’s surface creates surprising sounds and sparks dynamic movements.

The kalimba’s gentle strikes set the stage for a captivating blend of sound and movement, revealing the intimate connection between our inner rhythms and the external universe. Starting with serene pulses, the piece gradually unfolds, weaving in layers of the kalimba’s unique sounds captured by a special microphone, and enhanced by other musical elements. This progression mirrors the choreography’s evolution from gentle, reflective gestures to an exhilarating crescendo.

Whispers in Motion is an exploration of sensory delight, inviting you on a journey through the intricate interplay of sound and motion. Enter a sonic landscape where whispers transform into waves, resonating with the pulse of life.

Yao Hsiao: Daji

Daji draws inspiration from the ancient Chinese mythological tale of the enchantress Daji and King Zhou of Shang in the classic narrative “The Investiture of the Gods.” Rooted in the themes of traditional Chinese religion and human desires, the composition blends sounds of various modes of transportation across different eras, such as carriages and trains, with the clamor of people amidst the prosperity and chaos of their times, creating a temporal interplay.

Within this piece, Daji symbolizes human desire, perpetually tempting individuals like a demon. While “The Investiture of the Gods” is millennia old, the whisper of demons and desire persists across cultures and epochs. The composition culminates for the first time with the sound of swords, symbolizing Daji’s demise as a human soul, followed by the awakening of the fox spirit through the magic box, challenging the gods' authority with the question: “Are you worshipping Buddha, or your desires?,” before transitioning into her song at the famous “Sumptuous Feast” scene.

Various versions of “The Investiture of the Gods” revolve around Daji ensnaring King Zhou, leading to tyranny and eventual massacre, with divergent endings. In the ending of Daji after The King dies, she ultimately realized she falls in love with King Zhou and decided to exchange her millennium-long cultivation with a magic box for the chance to resurrect him after the gods slay him. Their love story embodies the inevitability of losing oneself amidst a world inundated by collective desires, human, God, and demon alike.

Sam Parnin: Defy Gravity

Defy Gravity is centered around the steelpan as a percussive instrument with very little natural sustain. Through the electronics, the steelpan’s sound is frozen in time, creating an infinitely sustaining texture that defies the expectation of the instrument. This is connected to the recurring motive of objects slowly falling to the ground before finally coming to rest. Just as the steelpan subverts its limitation, the triggered sounds slowly begin to distort their behavior until they transform into something entirely new.

Yoonjae Choi: Digital Rain

The sound of rain can give us a sense of security, but it can also evoke the fear of death. Rain is a symbol of life that could save plants and animals, but it also symbolizes purification and death when floods occur. In this way, the sound of rain is both the sound of life and the sound of death and contains a deep meaning that stimulates our spiritual imagination.

In the process, I create various types of textures close to the rain sound through multiple sound processes using the sound of flowing water recorded in a lake. Although not the actual sound of rain, these sound textures reflect abstract objects that convey symbolic images of rain describing the process of life, death, and purification in a flow that willingly changed.

Daroo Lee: I can’t close my eyes

I want to close my eyes. I see chaos with my wide-open eyes. I am trapped in endless excitement, violence, and obsession. Yet, I endure fear, frustration, sadness, isolation, torment, and exhaustion. It feels as though I’ve been chasing illusions, running tirelessly but never reaching fulfillment. The desire grows stronger to shut out the relentless whirl of life. I yearn to release the burdens, surrender completely, and trust wholly. I seek solace and clarity through closed eyes. I yearn to place my faith in something greater.

Sy Anderson: Meaning

During the past year, I started practicing meditation and self-awareness when it comes to how I think about various parts, beliefs, struggles, or any other thing in my life; trying to notice ways in which I think about myself, my life, my everyday situations and reevaluate if they are positive, necessary, or if they should be changed to better meet my needs as an individual. In one form or another, many of these simple things came down to asking myself questions like, “what does this mean to me,” or “what does this not mean to me,” or “what deeper meaning here have I not considered or noticed before?”

I chose to express the various ways that the meanings of things appear in our lives through the strongly contrasting sections of this piece. There is so much subtext within our lives, even in the simplest things. Meaning is everywhere, and also nowhere, depending on how we look at things. Meaning is what we learn of things and make of things.