Memories of XiaoxiangAlto Saxophone and Tape (2003)
|Chien-kwan Lin, July 2003 at the 13th World Saxophone Congress in Minneapolis, MN.
|pre-recorded tape part included with purchase
Xiaoxiang refers to the region in Hunan Province, China where the rivers Xiao and Xiang intersect. A tragic event took place in that region during the Chinese Cultural Revolution: a woman’s husband was killed by a local official. Without the means to seek justice, she decided to take revenge on the official by wailing like a ghost in the forest behind the official’s residence every evening. Months later, both the official and herself went insane. My friend, the Chinese composer Mo Wu-ping (1958-1993) once planned to compose an opera based on this story. However, he only finished the overture before he died of cancer at age 34. I composed Peking Opera Soliloquy for alto saxophone in his memory in 1994. In the summer of 2002, I met with his family in Beijing and heard more descriptions of his unfinished project. The story still deeply disturbs me, as I continue to be moved by the power of his soul. I decided to revisit pieces of these memories in this project for electronics and saxophone. In this piece, I use some of the materials from my earlier saxophone composition, Mo Wu-ping’s singing, as well as materials related to that part of the region (including field recordings of the Yao minority people and excerpts from the ancient Chinese zither composition Water andMist over Xiaoxiang). It is the woman’s search for her husband, my friend Mo Wu-ping’s search for her, and my search for him---we are all searching for memories of realities, fragments of truths in this broken, fractured and scattered soundscape.