Locations and Dislocations: An Ecomusicological Conversation

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Westminster presents two public events as part of the conference: Locations and Dislocations: An Ecomusicological Conversation

2 p.m.  Keynote address by Byron Au Yong

Music critic Alex Ross wrote: “Composers grow up with the idea that music is a game of heroes... Sooner or later, they come up against the disappointing realization that modern American culture has no space for a composer hero.” Considering that the composer hero is now irrelevant, how do I maintain integrity naming myself within an occupation that has become a relic?

This keynote focuses on my music, which I call songs of dislocation because I have inherited a broken lineage. This lineage is familial as well as metaphoric. According to the United Nations, in 2015 there were 244 million people living outside their country of origin.

Home for migrants and their descendants is oftentimes an imaginary space based on fragmented stories of displacement. As the son of Chinese immigrants in America, I compose music to connect people with the places they call home. Songs of dislocation provide an antidote to the composer hero by offering ways to bring the fragments together.

--- Byron Au Yong

3:15 p.m.  Locations and Dislocations Concert

The first four pieces are performed by the composers.  The four works by Byron Au Yong are performed primarily by Westminster faculty and students.  

Thomas Rex Beverly:  Telepresent Storm:  Rita
Time travel back to 2005 during Hurricane Rita’s massive show of beauty and destruction. The weather data in Telepresent Storm: Rita is not a metaphor; rather it directly connects the visual and auditory experience with the historical energy of Hurricane Rita. The historical weather data of Rita is run through a piece of software to create a real-time graphical score which is then interpreted live, using iPads. The performer, using two iPads, interprets the graphical score by freely assigning sound, harmony rhythm, melody, and growth to the available weather parameters.

Kristofer Bergstrom:  Radiddlepa
In 2013, I recognized that my increasing success as a touring musician was at odds with the environment.  The more I flew to gigs, the more I contributed to climate change.  Seeking to uncouple my career from air travel, I implemented a travel CO2 budget and 10-year reduction plan, and began the work of replacing the artistic opportunities I found through travel with local inspiration.  Now, I travel by bike, and have a bike-pulled taiko trailer that brings together a small team of Los Angeles players to fill the downtown streets with the sounds of taiko at CicLAvia.  Radiddlepa, for tsukeshime-daiko, was the first piece written after the adoption of the CO2 budget.  Nervous about how the budget might limit performance opportunities, the piece seeks success in the local. Written for solo player and single, portable drum, Radiddlepa was written at home, alone in the studio, with the hope that the instrument itself would provide inspiration.  It is a gentle composition incorporating multiple techniques new to taiko.  "Radiddlepa" is unique in the taiko world, and for me, represents success in finding inspiration at home and the first step toward an environmentally-aware artistic career.

Lenka Morákovåa:  Glass Spilled Out from a Broken Bathtub
Glass Spilled Out From the Broken Bathtub is an AV live performance/sound documentary, in which the artist portrays a situation of its home region in northern Czech Republic, famous for its glassmaking tradition. Previously the most developed industry has been in a decline for several years; glassworks, manufacturers and design shops go bankrupt; workers end up on welfare and students from local art schools can not find jobs in the field. During an extensive field work, author collected a large database of sounds in the glass factories and small manufactures and interviews with people directly affected by the crisis. The final music piece is composed exclusively with authentic field-recording and accompanied by improvisation on glass materials along with magical interplay of light spectra in a space and visuals filmed on the location. In between an abstract meditation and a socio-critical manifesto, this project establishes a discussion about maintenance of local traditions in the context of global socio-economic framework and opens a discussion about preservation of technological know how and a lack of local collaboration in capitalistic system of post-communist countries.

Mia Theodoratus:  The Afterlife of Angels
After finding and purchasing a gold Erarrd harp circa 1895 in extreme despair, I repurpose the instrument from its historic use as a romantic classical instrument to a percussive modern noisemaker suitable for the current time. Throughout the world there are derelict decaying harps made for the drawing rooms of the Eighteenth Century. As a classically trained harpist and improviser, these decaying instruments symbolize wealth, culture and power and they fascinate me. The reclaimed Erarrd is moved from the setting of a lady’s formal parlor into a second life with new tunings, tambours and articulations. The refigured strings now sound like a distorted Javanese Gamelan The instrument dislocates the space of the romantic era parlor and pushes it into the sounds of the era of technology. In doing so arpeggios become distorted rhythms and melodies are muted and percussive.

Excerpts of Three Works by Byron Au Yong
Island:  Theme and Migrations for two pianos 
Island: Theme and Migrations refers to Angel Island, the Ellis Island of the West Coast, where Chinese sojourners carved their poetry into the walls of the immigration barracks. I think about their hardships and desires as I etch out sounds with gestures that come from the main theme. These migrations, variations in the classical music sense, vary from performance to performance because I’ve cut open the notation. Melodies and chords float around the score. Two pianists are separated by the bodies of two grand pianos as if they were separated by the ocean. The strings resonate between them as they touch the keys like sunlight bouncing on the waves. Across the distance, the pianists hear each other.
Pianists: Eric Hung, Carmen Mattiescu

Three Songs from Stuck Elevator - Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis (Curated by Ivy Zhou)
Stuck Elevator was prompted by the real-life experience of a food delivery man trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. The production provides a personal entry point to topics including immigration, labor, Chinese American identity, family obligation and fortune cookies, as they pertain to an undocumented immigrant/indentured slave in 21st century America

#8: “Orange Beef ”
#12: “Shame”

Jennifer Suragiat (Guang)
Ivy Zhou (Ming)
Jane Dominick (Snakehead)
William Mosher (Marco)
Jessica Hiltabidle (Boss’s Wife)
Amy Zakar, violin
Ruth Ochs, cello
Eric Hung, piano
Byron Au Yong, percussion

Excerpts from Welladay!  Welladay!  Wayward Love Songs
Welladay! Welladay! Wayward Love Songs sweeps through 36 poems by James Joyce, published in a collection called Chamber Music in 1907. Despite the exclamation points in the title, Welladay! Welladay! is a quiet work. The intimate, variable music nods to love as well as the orphans and unwed mothers who lived in Seattle’s Good Shepherd Center from 1907 to 1973. Crumpled letters and laundered bed sheets provide touchstones for the performance.

Alan Schlichting, voice
Ivy Zhou, voice
Amy Zakar, violin
Ruth Ochs, cello
Eric Hung, piano


Byron Au Yong
Thomas Rex Beverly
Kristofer Bergstrom
Lenka Morákovåa
Mia Theodoratus
Eric Hung
Carmen  Mateiescu
Ruth Ochs
Westminster Choir College students

Ticket Information 

Free Admission

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