trace of hope (variations) (2019)
after Esperanza Spalding and Lauryn Hill
solo piano

“trace of hope (variations)” is based on a beloved performance by ‪Esperanza Spalding‬, of "Tell Him" by ‪Lauryn Hill‬. The piece is so titled because I followed (traced) the song closely, and because the Spanish name "Esperanza" connotes "hope".

Indeed Esperanza’s music and music-making have long given me hope and inspiration even in times when very little else does, including times like these. There is such effortless enthusiasm in everything she makes, and in tracing her path through a song I feel I’ve picked some up for myself too.

August 2019

one of the most rewarding experiences of my time at MSM was this collaboration with New Zealand composer Salina Fisher on a brand new piece for solo piano. the piece is inventive, heartfelt, mysterious… a joy to perform. cozy up with a pair of headphones and take a listen!

"Uchi-Soto" (which literally translates to "inside-outside") refers to the differentiation between 'in-groups' and 'out-groups'; a concept that permeates Japanese society and language. Varying levels of politeness and respect are embedded in the language, reflecting the complex and changing layers of personal relationships between 'uchi (内)': typically family members and close friends, and 'soto (外)': strangers, customers, and also foreigners (外人). In reflecting on my own relationship with this concept (particularly in my identity as both Japanese and 'foreigner'), I became interested in finding a musical language in the layers 'in-between'; the subtle gradations of a single instrument's physical 'uchi' and 'soto'.

– Salina Fisher

each other (2015)
for any two wind instruments (as long as one has a lower register than the other), and optional bowed crotales

With this piece, I’ve attempted to recapture the intimacy of a particular moment. I was falling asleep with someone in the earliest hours of a Sunday morning – in the quiet of the room, all I could hear was the soft rising and falling of our breathing, a duet out of phase.

The sound of gentle, independent breathing, lightly amplified by the clarinets, forms a backdrop out of which wisps of a Bach invention surface and vanish. If Bach’s music, with its tight contrapuntal intercourse, might be likened to harmony between souls, I hope that my effacement of it evokes such a harmony in an even tenderer, fragile space: two lovers whispering, or dreaming of each other.

May 2015

First performance by members of 15.19ensemble (highSCORE Festival, Pavia, Italy; 8/2015; Soundcloud audio below)

Additional performances by:
Nicole Galisatus and Dalton Tran (UCLA, 11/2015; video below)
Wild Up (UCLA, 3/2016; as part of “Faded Songs”)

Learning Nancarrow’s Canon A (5/7)

  • 5 = 2+3; 7 = 2+2+3; think of each bar as a 3 against 2 but with one of the beats elongated.

  • Meter more about inflection than precision of duration.

Recent interests – discontinuity, pieces that sound like they are eternally beginning (Irving Fine on Martinu: “stringing together of introductions, never a consequent phrase”

memorable Cage moment:

in our edition of Atlas Eclipticalis, there was a system that ended with an entire quadrant of silence. conducting (i.e. moving my arm very slowly) through this long empty time felt like a bad dream – standing in front of a group of musicians not making any sound for 30 seconds while an audience watches your back? surreal.

Recent interests:

  • Kacey Musgraves, “Love is a Wild Thing”, “Happy and Sad”, “Space Cowboy”, “Rainbow”

  • Lucia Dlugoszewski

  • Charlie Sdraulig, “collector”

  • Kunsu Shim, “A Lasting Song for Geha”

  • Ariana Grande, thank u, next

  • Terry Riley, The Heaven Ladder, Book 5

  • Arthur Berger, Five Pieces

  • Robert Palmer, Sonata for Piano (Four Hands)

  • Stefan Wolpe, “Form” and “Form IV”

  • Brian Ferneyhough, “Lemma-Icon-Epigram”

    • in search of a sensible complexity…?