Filtering by Category: Solo/Duo

But, Ma (2016)

for soprano and piano
text by Sajia Sultana
written for Art Song Lab 2016

The 6th instalment of Art Song Lab was a collaboration with Vancouver's Queer Arts Festival. Just weeks after the shootings in Orlando, it became evident during the week just how pertinent some of the pieces were to the queer community, especially those queer people of colour involved.

The text I worked with was by Sajia Sultana, exploring the process of coming out to Indian parents. While Canada is regarded as progressive country, queer people of colour often fear the loss of culture and community in addition to family concerns that are universal in the coming-out process.

One of the experiences Sajia and I shared was a sense of not being really heard within certain family dynamics, and so, miscommunication became a starting point for our collaboration.

Unicorn (2016)

Unicorn (2016) for solo speaking cellist
duration: 4’
written for Marina Hasselberg

As the first piece I'd written after completing my doctorate, this fulfilled my need to write something lighthearted and quirky, to contrast the rigour of academia and the seriousness of writing an opera about diabetes.

When I spent Christmas 2015 in Mexico city, I visited a number of museums and had the pleasure of seeing a number of works of art I recognized as definitive works from art history books. On of those works was Dali's Unicorn. I was inspired by the piece itself, but also the way myself and other visitors engaged with sculptures: hands off, yet oh, so close! The three dimensionality of the experience made me want to musically explore a community sense of the experience, and I also saw a parallel between the wall mounted descriptions and program notes we use in the classical music world. 

Red (2014)


Red (2014)
collaboration for Spoken Word Artist and Pianist
text by Warren Arcand & Michael Park
commissioned by Russell Wallace for Neo-Nativism vs. New Music

The collaboration really allowed me to explore my creative role as a composer-pianist in collaboration with a truly gifted performance artist. The text Warren sent me was an exploration of the word, and idea of, red, with a well positioned tangent version of "a man walked into a bar...".

In response, I thought about what red would be in terms of musical nomenclature. We have letter names for A-through-G, but what about the rest of the alphabet. I composed a companion text about the spelling of red and composed a framework for a 1940's pub style improvisation. 

How the texts and the music fit together was a function of the live performance, trusting the timing and intuition of both performance artists. I couldn't be happier with the resulting performance and hope that a recording will be available soon.

A Spirit Alive in a Ready Body (2013)


A Spirit Alive in a Ready Body (2013)
for Mezzo-Soprano and Pianist
text by Ray Hsu
commissioned by Lynne McMurtry and Alison d'Amato

For the fourth year of Art Song Lab, Ray and I have stepped back from participation in order to focus on organization. However, a summer celebration of song would be incomplete without a new instalment from our unique collaboration.

One of the focuses in our partnership has been to explore the concept of Interview. This is a topic we first delved into with Compassion & Sacrifice, and continued to some extent in Art Song Lib. We began this piece by interviewing Lynne, and imagining how her responses change with context and the identity of the interviewer. As with much of my vocal writing, I've tried to bring out as many 'readings' of the poem as possible within the context of the performance.

This piece has a very special place in my heart because it involves all three of the Art Song Lab co-directors: Ray, Alison, and myself. Even though the piece isn't an official part of ASL 2013, it stands as a testament to the community of art song we've strived to create and have seen flourish in the last few years.


Stay tuned for score and recording after the June 24, 2013 premiere.

Moonless Night (2012)

Moonless Night

 (2012)

for Erhu and Piano

Written for Corey Hamm and Nicole Ge Li.

Pianist Corey Hamm has joined forces with Erhuist, Nicole Ge Li in an exciting project that will see the premiere of twenty new pieces by January 2014. Those pieces will then be recorded and toured across Canada and China in Spring of 2014. I was thrilled to be one of the first composers Corey asked to join this project. Moonless Night was an amazing project to work on, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to work so closely with Nicole. The erhu is a gorgeous instrument, and not one that western classical composers often get to write for. 

When I showed a draft of the piece to Nicole and described the opening section as a sleepless night, she shared with me the importance of the moon in Chinese culture, and a title was born. Reflecting on moon imagery in erhu repertoire, the move to include quotations from Liú Tiānhuá's Moon Night was a welcomed addition.

Here is the program note for the world premiere:

The sun sustains us through the evening, and long after its last rays have dissipated. It keeps us moving forward, looking forward. 
In the hours before slumber, the moon slows our forward momentum. Dulling the stresses of waking hours, the cool light reflects on the day from a different angle. 
But what happens when we go right from daylight to sleep, without the moon's repose.
Lying in bed, tormented by restless ruminations, there is no sleep on a moonless night.

Art Song Lib (2012)

Art Song Lib

 (2012)

for Singer, Pianist, and Scribe

text by Ray Hsu

Written for and performed by Phoebe MacRae and Rachel Iwaasa as part of VISI Art Song Lab 2012.

I have collaborated with Ray Hsu on a number of projects, including the founding of Art Song Lab, an innovative program that teams composers with poets as part of the Vancouver International Song Institute's SONGFIRE festival in partnership with the Canadian Music Centre.

For those of you who don't know our work, it is an understatement to say that we skirt the status quo... We started this project in a café, Ray asking, 'what can we do that would be awesome?' Knowing that we were writing for soprano Phoebe MacRae (a goddess of musical comedy) and pianist Rachel Iwaasa (who can rise to any challenge), our answer was to turn the entire experience of a madlib into an art song. Integrating audience suggestions into the song, no two performances will be the same!

Click here for a PDF of the Score.

Compassion & Sacrifice (2012)

Compassion & Sacrifice (2012)

for Speaking Violist and Speaking Pianist

Premiered by Chantal Lemire, viola; and Michael Park, piano

Click here for a PDF of the Score.

Compassion & Sacrifice is many things to many people.

For the composer, it is a speaking duo for viola and piano. For the performers, it is the unique challenge of having to speak while playing their instruments. For arts lovers, it is a critique of how arts funding is portrayed in the right-wing media.

Compassion & Sacrifice is the latest creation from one of Vancouver's most vibrant collaborative teams: Michael Park and Ray Hsu.

In response to the jaw-dropping Sun News Media interview between Krista Erickson and iconic dancer, Margie Gillis, Michael and Ray discussed the interview at length, becoming obsessed with the ideas of media analysis, copyright, and fair dealing. Using those discussions as the basis, Ray sculpted a dialogue between musicians nested with quotations from the interview. By musicalizing that dialogue, Michael has ensured that it's not one you'll soon forget.

In his rather puckish way, Ray Hsu live tweeted from the world premiere that, "The concert ranged from the beautiful, the weird, and the feel good. I think mine was the weird one."

The original video that started it all is available online at the Sun News Network's website, original aired June 1, 2011. It features Krista Erickson interviewing iconic dancer, Margie Gillis.

http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/971454253001

Well, Is It Just Me, Or Is Everything Getting Shittier? (2011)


Well, Is It Just Me, Or Is Everything Getting Shittier? (2011)
for Tenor and Piano


This song is a setting of the same-titled poem by Ontario poet, Shannon Duncan.  The song was written for tenor, Drake Dantzler and pianist, Erika Switzer for performance at the second annual Art Song Lab.  

Well, Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Getting Shittier? by michaeljpark
performers: Drake Dantzler, tenor; Erika Switzer, piano

Click here for a PDF of the Score.

Stories Men Tell (2011)

Stories Men Tell

(2011)

1. Veteran

2. How I Fell in Love

3. Three Little Pigs

for Speaking Pianist

An exploration into the art of storytelling.  Playing and speaking, the pianist recounts stories: of a war veteran, how a man met his wife, and a daughter’s favourite fairy tale.

The following recordings of movements 1 and 3 were performed by pianist, Christopher Morano.

Click here for a PDF of the Score.

More Than Containers (2010)

More Than Containers (2010)

for Baritone and Piano

 

A short song for baritone, setting a poem by Ray Hsu as a conversational dialogue between piano and voice.  This song was premiered by baritone, Michael Broder and pianist, Laura Lowen at the Vancouver International Song Institute as part of the inaugural Art-Song Lab

 

Click here for a PDF of the Score.

Gramps Ain't No Namby-Pamby (2010)

Gramps Ain't No Namby-Pamby (2010)

for Bassoon and Baritone

 

Using text written by the composer, this piece is a dialogue between a grandfather and grandson where the audience only ever hears half of the conversation.  By having the bassoonist perform their role, playing the rhythm and contour of the (un)spoken text, this piece explores the power of music to create syntactical meaning through the association of speech and musical gesture.

Commissioned by bassoonist, Susan Durnin, Gramps Ain’t No Namby-Pamby has also been performed by bassoonists Margaret Fay, and award winning soloist, Allen Harrington.

 

Click here for a PDF of the Score.