Teasers for our upcoming Asia concert!

The first concert of our "peripatetic" four-part series at the Judith Wright Centre is rapidly approaching! So where in the world is Kupka's Piano? Asia! Asia email image

Join us on Friday 8 March at 7.30pm in the intimate Music Rehearsal Room at the Judy for a trip across the islands and countries of Asia and hear the play of Eastern and Western influences in composers from Malaysia, Japan, China, Korea, and of course Australia. Tickets are available here.

Wang Lu (pictured) is an exciting young Chinese composer, her music having been played by the likes of Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris. Her quintet From the Distant Plains II explores the sounds of Mongolian mouth harp and throat singing alongside playful Messiaen-esque passages. AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE. Hear some of Wang Lu's music here.

Japan's most celebrated composer of the 20th century, Toru Takemitsu, was himself strongly influenced by French music. Distance de fée for violin and piano expands on the musical language of Debussy and Messiaen, Europeans who were in turn looking eastward for inspiration.

With a minimum of musical material, Korean composer Isang Yun explores the expressive potential of the bass flute in his fourth of five etudes for the flute family. The low and hollow tone of the instrument along with techniques such as vocalisation, fluttertongue and pitch bending are reminiscent of the sounds of the Daegeum, a large bamboo flute with a buzzing membrane.

Young Australian-Taiwanese composer Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh is becoming increasingly recognised within Australia and around the world for her ability to create beautiful and enticing sounds, as well as the numerous cultural resonances that she is able to synthesise. Her piece Towards the Beginning, commissioned for Encounters III at the Queensland Conservatorium in 2010, combines a suppleness of gesture and a light sound palette that sounds at once familiar and unfamiliar. Visit Annie's blog here.

Born in 1955, Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa studied with Isang Yun as well as spending formative years in Berlin. His music draws as much upon the grand traditions of European art music, from Bach to Beethoven and from Nono to Lachenmann, as it does the traditional art musics of Japan, in particular gagaku and ancient court music. Edi, a work for solo clarinet, was composed in 2009 and shows off our clarinettist Macarthur Clough’s virtuosity but also his musical sensibilities.

Unlike many of his fellow graduates from the Central Conservatory of Beijing from the late 70s and early 80s (Tan Dun, Chen Yi, Zhou Long), Guo Wenjing decided to remain in China. While this has meant less fame in the West, Wenjing has gained some notoriety for his bold uncompromising theatricality and his idiosyncratic approach to his Sichuan heritage. Wenjing’s Parade is a scintillating work of coordination between three percussionists producing a myriad of sounds from just six gongs.

Chong Kee Yong is Malaysia’s leading composer. His music is unashamedly experimental and at the same time lyrical. His Chinese and multicultural Malaysian heritage enriches the Western Modernist language that he has mastered. The piano fragment Time Flows demonstrates the composer’s exciting combination of spiritual stillness and modern complexity. AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE. Visit Chong Kee Yong's website here.

Peter Sculthorpe represents a true Australian voice all the more for the fact that he dedicated much of his life to understanding and integrating music from our neighbouring Asian cultures into his own composition. The meditative stillness, use of pentatonic scales, and the eerie whistling in the solo violin piece Alone show how effective this Australian-Asian synthesis can be.

Newly commissioned for this concert, Liam Flenady’s Stars, not far off is a setting for soprano and small ensemble Wallace Stevens’ early cycle of poems Six significant landscapes, itself a response to some pieces of Chinese Landscape painting that the poet saw. The composer writes: “I was interested in the idea of an Australian setting a poem by and American about Chinese paintings. Australia’s recent history and future is in part determined by our shared political, economic and cultural links with both China and America - two global superpowers. The poems themselves, however, were what got me. Brilliant and short, they are almost haikus. Elliott Carter once said that it is impossible to set Stevens to music, since his poetry contains no drama. I think this is untrue, you have to find the subtle drama within the often very still poems, and bring it towards the surface… although not all the way.” WORLD PREMIERE. Visit Liam's blog here.