From Jenny Q Chai:

Just as painters and visual artists employ the vast range of colors in the chromatic spectrum in the creation of their art, composers and performers use the truly endless sonic spectrum to create and evoke musical worlds.

As a pianist and an amateur painter, I have discovered a personal form of synesthesia – a melding of senses – in regards to how I experience music. And in this all-French program, in repertoire which truly lives at the intersection of color and sound, I explore this meeting of the senses, practicing and preparing each individual piece of music even as I seek to translate my mental imagery into the real world, both through my musical performance, and on the canvas.

In order to fully realize this program, I completed a four-month residency at Cité des Arts in Paris, where I worked simultaneously on the musical performance and the paintings of each score here. In the 17/18 season, I will be able to tour the results of this process, offering a simultaneous performance of music and display of my visual art, united for the audience, just as they are in my own personal experience – a visual, sonic intersection.

Fittingly, the repertoire of this program is made up by modern-day French composers paying homage to the most important French composers of the Impressionistic era (the period of musical innovation that is perhaps most strongly tied to a corresponding visual artistic movement). Frédéric Durieux’s Echappée (composed to be played between the last two preludes of Debussy), acts as an elastic band of space and sounds that tie the two Debussy preludes together in an all new context, casting the works in a new, illuminating light. Durieux’s Pour tous ceux qui tombent-Hommage à Ravel (For all those who fall – Homage to Ravel) relates to the melancholy often found in Ravel’s music, as so beautifully represented by Ravel’s Oiseux tristes (Sad Birds) immediately afterward. The program then shifts to Messiaen’s Prelude cloches d’angoisse et larmes d’adieu which is paired with the Spectralist Tristan Murail’s homage to that work, Cloches d’adieu et un sourire. The entire program finishes on Messiaen’s massive, vivid Cantéyodjayâ, based on Indonesian rhythm.


Works to be performed on the “Sonorous Brushes” program include:

Claude Debussy, Etudes Pour les quartes
Pour les huit doigts
Debussy, Prelude Book 2 No.11, Les tierces alternees
Frédéric Durieux, Echappée, Hommage à Claude Debussy
Debussy, Prelude Book 2 No.11, Feux d’artifice
Frédéric Durieux, Pour tous ceux qui tombent – Hommage à RAVEL
Maurice Ravel, Oiseux tristes
Olivier Messiaen, Prelude cloches d’angoisse et larmes d’adieu
Tristan Murail, Cloches d’adieu, et un sourire… in memoriam Olivier Messiaen
Messiaen, Cantéyodjayâ

Debussy's Feux d'artifice,  watercolor, Jenny Q Chai, 2016

Debussy's Feux d'artifice, watercolor, Jenny Q Chai, 2016