Composer - Gao, Ping

Su Xie Si Ti/Four Sketches (NZTrio commission, premiered July 2009) – 10′

Feng Zheng/Kite, for piano trio and guzheng (NZTrio commission, premiered Sept 2016) – 19′

Su Xie Si Ti:

The work has 4 short movements each with a subtitle –

1. Xiao (Boisterous)

2. Cuo Diao (Split Melody)

3. Dui Wei (Counterpoint)

4. Shuo (Shining)

As the movements are short and concise, they possess one single mood, and often one single musical idea. They are like snapshots of moments in memory. In fact, some of them are indeed musical translations of scenes from my experience, for example, Counterpoint was inspired by seeing a village funeral procession in rural China. The family members of the deceased progressed slowly, interrupted by frequent kneeling down and crying (which can be both a formal part of the ritual and an expression from the heart), while a band of very odd mixture of Western and Chinese instruments (such as a trombone and a Suona, a Chinese double-reed instrument) led the way by playing very upbeat happy music. It is not surprising as funerals in China are referred to as “the White Happiness”, while weddings are the red counterparts. In my music, the two moods are in counterpoint creating a synthetic mood of the happy and sad. Cuo Diao, split melody, or wrong key, (Movement 2) is an isorhythmic love song in which notes in the tune are playfully replaced by ‘wrong notes’ which are not from the tune or its mode. These erroneous notes, however, later little by little form a transposition of the original tune in higher register.

Su Xie Si Ti was commissioned by the 2009 NZ Music Educator’s Conference for NZTrio, through funds provided by Creative New Zealand.

 

Feng Zheng (Kite):

  1. Still Clouds
  2. The Breeze
  3. Breaking the Air
  4. Broken Line

The Chinese invented the kite. Being made of paper and resembling the shape of a hawk, it was originally called “the paper hawk”. In ancient times, a bamboo tube was installed at the tail of the kite which made a Zheng-like sound when wind passed through it. Therefore, it is also called Feng Zheng (Wind Zheng) a term that is commonly used now.

Kites used to be flown often in the Qingming festival – a time when the Chinese pay respect to their deceased family members and ancestors. The kite is the carrier of their best wishes to the dead. The spiritual yearning in addition to the rigorous physical activeness gives kite-flying a feeling of tenderness that is also robust and healthy.

Gao Ping writes: ‘My “Wind Zheng” is dedicated to a dear friend who is no longer with us, Jack Body, the great New Zealand composer. I have entrusted my emotions for Jack to the wings and sounds of the kite. A motive made of Jack’s name (jACk BoDy)) appears in the beginning and the end of the piece. Is it possible that Jack would meet my free drifting kite somewhere?’

 

Gao Ping is a pianist-composer, born in Sichuan province, known for evocative textures and piano vocalization, and is the receipient of high musical honors. He studied in the USA in the 1990’s and is his work is commissioned and performed around the world. Many prestigious venues have presented his work such as the Aspen Music Festival, Dresdener Musikfestspiele, Hibiki Hall Festival (Japan), New Zealand International Arts Festival (Wellington), and the Beijing-Modern International Music Festival. Visit www.gaoping.org/biography for more details.

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