Empowering women from the East has become a particularly intriguing topic for me, especially because I was born in China. I have also studied, and continue to actively perform, in the West.
I designed this program from a storyteller’s perspective. Some pieces describe women and the restrictive solitudes of their lives, including the final work of a beloved teacher of mine—one of China’s most important transcribers of folk tunes to piano music—who has since passed away.
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 was commissioned by Shanghai Music Conservatory in 2016. An audiovisual narrative by a contemporary virtuoso (“queen of the piano”), it navigates between two kinds of polarities: traditional versus new, and passionate exuberance versus contemplative refinement. The pianist will simultaneously conjure the visual and sound worlds by playing a piano augmented by Antescofo, prompting images to appear on a screen while additional sounds are projected 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 zither’s silk strings will conjure a personal and intimate world. 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
Jarosław Kapuściński, New Work, piano with electronics, projection of calligraphy and Gu Qin (world premiere)