Naxos Canadian Classics to Release DREAMSCAPES Recording with Works by Vivian Fung, 9/25
Naxos Canadian Classics announces the September 25, 2012 release of Dreamscapes, a world premiere recording of three works by Edmonton-born composer Vivian Fung. The recording features Ms. Fung's acclaimed Violin Concerto (2011) and Piano Concerto "Dreamscapes" (2009), performed by Metropolis Ensemble with conductor Andrew Cyr, violinist Kristin Lee, and pianist Conor Hanick; and her Glimpses for prepared piano (2006), performed by Mr. Hanick. The concertos, both commissioned by Metropolis Ensemble, were recorded at Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood and produced by Tim Martyn.
All three of the works on the new recording have drawn their inspiration from Ms. Fung's travels to Bali. The composer began developing ideas for the Violin Concerto during a summer 2010 tour of Bali with Gamelan Dharma Swara, on which she was joined for part of the trip by Ms. Lee, the concertmaster of Metropolis Ensemble. Ms. Fung says, "the gamelan sonorities ringing through my head were a natural inspiration for me, but just as meaningful was Kristin's presence. The concerto draws on the sights, sounds, and memories of Bali as well as my getting to know Kristin, her firebrand style of playing as well as the intense lyricism that she expresses."
The Violin Concerto consists of one continuous movement with a series of fast and slow sections. It begins slowly with bird-like whistles in the strings that accelerate in a driving transition toward a kebyar-like declaration from the orchestra. The soloist enters in this fast section featuring odd-meters and jaunting rhythms. A "ghostly" slow section follows with harmonic effects in the strings that slowly accelerate into a virtuosic passage in perpetual motion. The involved cadenza that follows ascends toward one of the highest pitches on the violin, marked "play like a rock star." In the finale of the concerto, the soloist quotes from a Javanese folk song with frequent interplay from the orchestra. The concerto ends as it began, with birdlike whistles fading into ascending glissandi.
After the world premiere by Metropolis Ensemble and Ms. Lee in September of 2011, The Strad magazine praised the Violin Concerto as a work of "sinuous melodies, moto perpetuo passages, and a ferocious cadenza…reminiscent of Benjamin Britten or Colin McPhee in their Balinese mode… but it also travelled through more contemporary idioms."
Originally written for pianist Jenny Lin, Fung's Glimpses for prepared piano has been championed by a diverse group of pianists, including Margaret Leng Tan, Jenny Q Chai, Bryan Wagorn, Vicky Chow, and Conor Hanick, featured on this recording. Glimpses features three pieces, each of which explores a different aspect of prepared piano. The first piece, Kotekan, refers to an Indonesian terms that describes interlocking rhythms used in gamelan works. The second piece, Snow, uses the colors of the piano's upper ranges to depict light and sweeping motions. The final piece, Chant, has the pianist playing inside the piano and pulling on rosined butcher twine to produce a deep drone heard throughout the piece.
Fung's Piano Concerto "Dreamscapes"pays homage to "the gamelan gong keybar-style work, Ujan Mas, and a composition for legong dance," the composer notes. In one continuous movement, Dreamscapes begins with a prologue heralded by bird whistles, which Ms. Fung purchased from a street vendor in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and which were later used for the work's world premiere in New York by Metropolis Ensemble with pianist Jenny Lin in 2009. The work moves through a series of four contrasting vignettes, which feature gamelan-like interlocking rhythms, and an expanded version of Koketan (from Glimpses for prepared piano).
Vivian Fung has distinguished herself as a composer with a powerful compositional voice, whose music often merges Western forms with non-Western influences such as Balinese and Javanese gamelan and folk songs from minority regions of China.
New projects in the current 2012-2013 concert season include commissions for an orchestral work for Chicago Sinfonietta under Music Director Mei-Ann Chen, a new string quartet for the Banff International String Quartet Competition, a new work for piano for the International Beethoven Project in Chicago, a gamelan work, Kreasi Mekanik Mainan for Gamelan Yowana Sari at Queens College, and Gamelan Grunge for CONTACT Contemporary Music in Toronto. Ms. Fung was composer-in-residence at the Delaware Chamber Music Festival in July 2012, where Kristin Lee and Conor Hanick gave the world premiere of a commissioned work, Birdsong for violin and piano. The duo will give Philadelphia and New York premieres of Birdsong at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and Americas Society respectively in September 2012.
As the recipient of a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship, Ms. Fung will travel to Southwest China in 2013 for ethno-musicological research to study minority music and cultures in the Yunnan province, continuing research that previously inspired Yunnan Folk Songs (2011), commissioned by Fulcrum Point New Music in Chicago with support from the MAP Fund. Following the March 2011 world premiere, The Chicago Tribune wrote, "Yunnan Folk Songs stood out… [with] a winning rawness that went beyond exoticism." Ms. Fung toured Bali in 2010 and competed in the Bali Arts Festival as an ensemble member and composer in Gamelan Dharma Swara.
Vivian Fung's music has been embraced as part of the core repertoire by many distinguished artists and ensembles around the world. Pizzicato for string quartet was recorded on the Telarc label by the Ying Quartet and has remained part of their repertoire for several seasons. The Escher String Quartet also performed Pizzicato for the opening night of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's 2011-2012 season. Ms. Fung's String Quartet No. 2 was commissioned by the Shanghai String Quartet for its 25th anniversary international tour in 2009-2010, including its world premiere at the Freer Gallery in Washington, DC and the Canadian premiere in Ms. Fung's native city of Edmonton. Ms. Fung's orchestral and chamber works have also been performed by the Afiara String Quartet, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Chamber Orchestra, Music from China, and American Opera Projects, to name a few.
Ms. Fung has received numerous awards and grants, including the Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts' Gregory Millard Fellowship, ASCAP, BMI, American Music Center, MAP Fund, Music Alive! and the League of American Orchestras, American Composers' Forum, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She has been composer-in-residence of the Delaware Chamber Music Festival, the Music in The Loft chamber music series in Chicago, the San José Chamber Orchestra, and the Billings Symphony. Vivian Fung also completed residencies at the MacDowell, Yaddo, and Banff arts colonies, as well as residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Born in Edmonton, Canada, Vivian Fung received her doctorate from The Juilliard School in 2002. Ms. Fung began composition studies with composer Violet Archer. Other early influences include her mentors David Diamond, Narcis Bonet, and Robert Beaser.
Fung is affiliated with The Juilliard School and is an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre. Several of Ms. Fung's works have also been released commerciallyon the Telarc, Çedille, and Signpost labels.
Violinist Kristin Lee, winner of Astral Artists Auditions, Walter W. Naumburg Competition, and Premio Trio di Trieste Competition of Italy, has performed concertos with major orchestras including St. Louis Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, the Juilliard Orchestra, and given recitals throughout the United States, Korea, France, Italy, Russia, and China. Leading concertmaster of Metropolis Ensemble, she graduated from The Juilliard School under Itzhak Perlman and Donald Weilerstein, and is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and on faculty at Queens College.
The pianist Conor Hanick has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia and collaborated with some of the world's leading conductors, including Pierre Boulez, David Robertson and James Levine. A vehement proponent of contemporary music, he has worked with composers as diverse as Mario Davidovsky and David Lang and given premières of dozens of works at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to (le) Poisson Rouge. Currently a doctoral candidate at The Juilliard School studying with Yoheved Kaplinsky and Matti Raekallio, he resides in New York City.
Metropolis Ensemble is a professional chamber orchestra and ensemble dedicated to making classical music in its most contemporary forms. Led by conductor Andrew Cyr, Metropolis Ensemble gathers today's most outstanding emerging composers and young performing artists to produce innovative concert experiences. Founded in 2006, the Ensemble has commissioned and premiered over 75 works of music from a dynamic mix of composers and has appeared at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Festival, The Wordless Music Series, Celebrate Brooklyn, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, (Le) Poisson Rouge, and the Brooklyn Academy Of Music. In their first album with Naxos, Metropolis Ensemble received a nomination in the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards (2010) for Avi Avital (soloist) and Andrew Cyr (conductor) for Avner Dorman's Mandolin Concerto, part of the album.
GRAMMY-nominated conductor Andrew Cyr is a leader in the rapidly growing contemporary music scene. Recent engagements conducting Metropolis Ensemble include Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, (Le) Poisson Rouge, the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Celebrate Brooklyn, and The Wordless Music Series. In 2011, Cyr made his conducting début at the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall as part of Philadelphia's International Festival of the Arts and in 2013 will direct performances of a new opera by David Bruce with the Royal Opera in London and Opera North. He has collaborated with a diverse list of critically acclaimed indierock, hip-hop, and jazz artists, including Deerhoof, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and The Roots, Keren Ann, Babx, Nicole Atkins, and David Murray. A native of Fort Kent, Maine, Cyr holds music degrees from Bates College, the French National Conservatory, and Westminster Choir College.
Naxos Canadian Classics is an ongoing series featuring music by Canada's finest composers. Naxos Canadian Classics will eventually include composers from across Canada and will feature compositions for large ensemble, vocal music, chamber and solo music, as well as the often forgotten genre of wind band music. The first two releases on Naxos Canadian Classics are: Fugitive Colours: Music of Jeffrey Ryan with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Gryphon Trio, and conductor Bramwell Tovey; (8.572765); and I Saw Eternity, a collection of Canadian choral music with the Elora Festival Singers conducted by Noel Edison (8572812).