The Empty City Stratagem
-for Chinese Folk Singer (or tenor) and large orchestra
-Commissioned by the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra & the Shanghai Conservatory of Music-
Without an army to protect his city, Zhuge Liang used his wit to avoid a disastrous military conflict. Legend says that as Sima Lee’s forces loomed upon the town of Xicheng, Liang calmly played his Guzheng to create an illusion of military confidence, convincing Lee’s forces that they were being ambushed. This piece expands themoment in which Lee analyzes Liang’s zither playing, trying to discern whether this display is one of weakness or of strength. My piece is divided between the experiences of these opponents, dissecting the dichotomy between Lee’s perception of the music, and the music’s true status as a disguise of Liang’s solitude.
Lying between the worlds of ancient Peking Opera and contemporary classical music,“The Empty City Stratagem” exists in a state of artistic flux. While adapting the piece’s contemporary classical aesthetic, I strive to create a dialogue between two seemingly disparate artistic and cultural mediums. Although my composition is considerably influenced by Peking Opera, reworking the genre was not my intention. For those who have grown up in China, Peking Opera is second nature; as a German-American composer, this piece was my first opportunity to connect with Peking Opera and its unique expressive qualities.
Sich Überflüssig vorzukommen
-written for Jonathan Dormand-
„sich überflüssig vorzukommen“ is an aggressive piece for solo violoncello that confronts the feeling of emotional superfluity in the company of others. This piece is intended as the climax of a nonexistent gesamtwerk. Beginning with an energy borderlining absurdity, it is as if the musician is thrown into an unknown environment, unprepared and furious.
“überflüssig” was originally conceptualized as a fanfare for solo violoncello while evoking the fierce energy of a large orchestra with heavy brass. The entirety of this majestic instrument is harnessed, drawing out its orchestral command. The aesthetic of this piece combines the virtuosic glory of a cadenza and the unbridled brutality of the Nordic-metal band Meshuggah.