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Living in Color

YEAR: 2019
DURATION: 9 minutes
INSTRUMENTATION: Flute(+Alto), Clarinet(+Bass), Violin, Cello, Piano, Percussion
PREMIERE: April 7, 2019
Community Church of Boston
Boston, MA
Conductor // Tian Hui Ng
COMMISSION: Boston New Music Initiative

Program Note:

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about influence. How does one mold his/her unique personal and musical motivations into a distinctive artistic voice, and in what ways can the many influences that constantly surround us tastefully converge? Living in Color is an exploration of these thoughts.

As inspiration for this piece commissioned by and premiered in Boston, I chose to use Boston-based artist, Melanie Long’s work Curls: a vibrant and elegant image that bursts with a multitude of color and detail to depict the wonderfully simple state of content. Shortly after beginning sketches on this piece, my grandmother suddenly passed. Her daughter (my mother) happened upon an image of my grandmother wearing a jacket with the same color pallet as the protagonist in Melanie’s work. With this image, I discovered a theme of connectedness and tangling of worlds that made its way deeply into the architecture of this music.

The seed of this piece is a simple motive: a descending minor third. It is the first thing we hear and it is played by the piano: my protagonist because it is my instrument and the one that my grandmother most associates with me. That minor third transforms into a lament-like, R&B- flavored chord progression containing three chords that also happen to be separated by a minor third. The construction of this piece is held together by that chord progression, and although there is an overwhelming sense of lift throughout the course of the work, every major landmark is a lower rendition of the three-chord progression until it eventually spirals back to its original state.

The cross-pollination of R&B with a contemporary classical palate is my attempt to further explore this intertwining of worlds. My belief is that creative expression transcends genre and it is my belief that music is more powerful when we choose to open our ears wide and allow ourselves to hear all colors.