for cello and piano(2020)
|Commission||Commissioned by Jonah Kim, cellist|
|Premiere||Sunday, May 14, 2023; Samper Recital Hall, Cabrillo College, Santa Cruz, CA; Jonah Kim, cellist|
For cello and piano
I had been meaning to compose a cello and piano piece for my friend, the cellist, Jonah Kim, for some time. The pandemic provided an unexpected window into my schedule, and I set to work on it. The night before finishing the piece, right around the time my lack of commitment to a title was building up its own creative stress, my friend, Jocelyn Clark (a Harvard classmate and gayageum player, who, fifteen years earlier had been the first performer to commission from me a piece for a Korean instrument), forwarded me a link to a video about the Korean word, “uri.”
What I learned about “uri” is beautiful. “Uri” stands for the connected self, the “boundary demarcating the “self”,” indicating an “extended, embraced, integrated, connected self,” where “I” and “you” are chunked together. It is a concept of “I” that is foreign to the Western sense of the isolated self. This revelation hit poignantly as my self-quarantined-covid stress had been exacerbated lately by daily viewings of videos online of selfish fellow Americans refusing to submit to the basic communal courtesy of wearing a mask when shopping at Costco.
As I learned about “uri,” it occurred to me that, by coincidence, it resonated with how I was designing the relationship between the cello and the piano – starting with a piano solo, the cello gradually shadows the piano, coloring the stillness of low notes interrupting eddy-like flurries which gradually transform into something like a shamanic incantation. “I” and “you” are chunked together.
I revel at the wisdom the world (friends) suggests to me, which in turn, brings clarity to something that I had already done or was in the act of enacting. Such is the flow of eddies; they circle back even as they flow downstream.