Jingren Sun: A Chinese Folklore
Chinese Folklore tells the story of a supernatural encounter by a group of Chinese factory workers who lived in 1960’s China, based on a true story that was told by the composer’s grandmother. The story goes like this: one night, the workers at a late night shift came across odd noises from the factory’s kitchen. At first, they thought it was thieves who might have sneaked in, and they were too scared to check it out. So, some of them went to get help. As time passed on, the workers began to realize that the noise was not random. Instead, it had a steady beat and rhythm, as if someone were making music with the kitchenware. In the end, the group went down to the kitchen, and discovered that there were no thieves making noise. Instead, it was weasels. As soon as they were discovered by the workers, the weasels fled the scene.
The piece is made up with three parts: Part A depicts the weasels playing in the dark when the workers were absent; Part B depicts the scene of the workers working in the factory, and includes a quote from the famous Chinese communist propaganda piece, “us the Workers have the Power” (咱们工人有力量; Part C depicts the encounter between the weasels and the workers, as the themes and motivic materials from the previous two parts collide.
Erik Kreem: Päike, kuu
Päike, kuu – Estonian for Sun, Moon – echoes the earthly and celestial sounds that resonate from the heights and depths of nature. Harmonically uniform and with a simple falling progression at its core, the piece unfolds instinctively and dynamically through melodically structured first and third movements, and flowing, freeform second and fourth movements where melody is relegated to repetition and reverberation of contour. A dawn grows in the final moments.
Hirad Moradi: Beyond the Haze (We Are One)
Beyond the Haze paints a journey toward unity in sound. In the opening measures, a clouded texture is created with the oscillation of the flute and clarinet, later joined by the bassoon and oboe, playing in opposing rhythmic divisions. Exotic melodic embellishments help to maintain a feeling of wonder and exploration, as the instruments wander through contrasting terrains and worlds. Throughout the piece, the melodic spotlight is frequently stolen by different instruments. During the middle section, where the piece is at its most unstable point, a flourishing flute cadenza interrupts the development of the theme, in order to find its role within the group, before passing the theme to the other instruments. The group slowly joins together once more and the piece is swung into a continuously shifting and oscillating pattern, with the entire quintet working in conjunction.
Elienna (Yu Xuan) Wang: Penta-Chroma
Influenced by a melange of musical styles (Western Classical music, Chinese traditional music, jazz, and popular music), Penta-chroma employs an altered sonata form to recount the story of Penta, a spirited and innocent character, and Chroma, a wild and menacing character. Due to his incurable curiosity, Penta wanders into the unknown and encounters Chroma, who threatens Penta. However, after battling, Penta successfully tames Chroma, and the two become friends, leading to a fun adventure into different scales and harmonies.
Despite being seemingly simple, this story reflects the challenges faced by people whose identity is shaped by multiple cultural backgrounds. More generally, this story highlights the importance of mutual understanding and acceptance, as well as how the appreciation of multiculturalism and diversity leads to personal growth and new, exciting experiences.
Anthony Gunadi: Rainy Night Stroll
“Rainy Night Stroll” is a solo piano piece depicting a scene with light rain, a slightly chilly breeze with the scent of dampness in the air, and the inexplainable feeling of satisfaction of taking in these surroundings late at night. This piece is about finding solace amid chaos and distractions. I played around with four motifs: the falling raindrops motif, the walking motif, the satisfying motif, and the mist motif—which work together to re-create an atmosphere of a rainy stroll. Using the repetition of these motifs, I experimented with composing periods within periods. As the storm rages on, your vision blurs as the sustain pedal becomes unlifted over different harmonies and melodies. The constant blur and unpredictable repetitions gradually become irritating, then overwhelming; but suddenly, you are in the eye of the storm and a wave of relief astonishes you in an unlikely situation.
Bennett Luo: I Remember
From Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away: The characters are in a spiritual realm, stuck there because a witch steals a part of their full name, making them lose their identity. Toward the ending, Chihiro recalls a previously suggested meeting with her friend Haku, where she fell into the Kohaku River and was saved by the river’s spirit. She realizes that the river spirit and Haku are one. This leads Haku to remember his identity, freeing him from control of the spiritual realm.
The story is reflected in this piece through a gradual transition from atonality to tonality. The tonal section builds from gestures and motifs previously introduced in the atonal section, to create a sense of “putting the pieces together” and a feeling of relief.