John Chow Seymour, flute, conducting; Sayaka Itomitsu, flute; Philip Gottling, contrabassoon; Hiroyuki Ehara and Padraic Costello, saxophones; Ken Fong, tuba; Tyler Ramos, piano; Nicholas Takaoka, eight-string electric guitar; Ezekiel Gonda, bass guitar; Tyler Katsura, violin
Each year, starting in 2011, the student composers at the University of Hawaii have been invited to create musical projects to be performed at the Honolulu Museum of Art, thanks to a grant from The Arthur and Mae Orvis Foundation. Students found creative ways to write works that were easily learned and of flexible duration. Both of the works on this page were created for that project and were written with the museum's gallery spaces in mind: the emphasis here is on creating continuous musical textures that fill the space with sound.
In The Rippling Surface of a Lake of Iron, a large poster is visible to the performers and the museum patrons, and shows eight staves of music, each just one measure of 12/8 time. The conductor changes the texture by covering or uncovering certain lines, controlling which are visible; the performers play only the visible lines, and only those which are in range for their instrument. Imagine listening to this music while looking at paintings of Hawaiian volcanoes in the "John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery" at the Honolulu Museum of Art!
The Meditations of Guan Yin was premiered in the museum's Buddhist Art gallery under the watchful gaze of one of HMA's most famous art pieces, a large wooden statute from China of the boddhisatva Guan Yin. The meditator considers ideas from all sides: as soon as one way of looking at things is presented (musically, by the first flute), another viewpoint is presented by another musician from the other end of the room. More musicians enter and lend support to one view or another.
I'm told that the Buddhist concept of meditation is rather different from 'meditation' as I know it and as I presented it in this piece, so perhaps the title is not apt. (I wrote the piece first and only applied the title once I found out that we would be using the room with the great Guan Yin statue as a venue.)
The instrumentation for both pieces is flexible.
The more players, the better for The Rippling Surface of a Lake of Iron.
A variety of ranges (from bass to treble) is preferable, but not required.
2-4 Players are recommended for The Meditations of Guan Yin; more are also acceptible.