From Jenny Q Chai:

The theme of empowering women from the East has become a particularly intriguing topic for me. Especially because of my background, born in China, and studying and actively performing in the West.

I designed this program from a storyteller’s perspective. There are pieces by composers who described women and their solitudes in their times, full of restriction and sadness, including the last work by my beloved teacher who passed away this year. He was the most important composer in China for transcribing folk tunes into piano music.

There is also the premiere of a work by Jarosław Kapuściński, scored for piano, Gu Qin, visual projections of calligraphy, electronics, and the artificial intelligence program Antescofo. The piece is commissioned by Shanghai Music Conservatory in 2016. It will be a personal audiovisual narrative by a contemporary virtuoso (“queen of piano”) about navigating between two kind of polarities: traditional versus new, and passionate exuberance versus contemplative refinement. The pianist will conjure simultaneously the visual and sound worlds by playing the piano augmented by a computer and Antescofo. Images will appear on a screen while additional sounds will be projected into the space from speakers. The principal material will be recorded in Shanghai and will include calligraphy and guqin ­ two of the most revered artistic traditions in China. The cursive style of writing and the sound of silk strings of the zither will conjure a very personal and at times intimate world of the musician. All performers there — including the pianist, the calligraphy master, and the Gu Qin player — are women.

Works to be performed on “Women, Queens, and Empresses of the Orient” include:

Jianzhong Wang, Brief Encounter of the Dream of Red Chambers
John Cage, The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs 
Victoria Jordanova, Moon (Based on Chinese Ancient Poem by Li Bai) 
Chen Yi, Duo Ye 
Debussy, Pagodes
Szymanowski, Scheherazade
Jarosław Kapuściński, New Work, piano with electronics, projection of calligraphy and Gu Qin (world premiere)