2 Feb 2019

Sound Lounge: 2019 Grammy-nominated Air Glow by Du Yun is a daring work for trumpets and laptops; Mason Bates's Liquid Interface depicts water moving through all its states

From Sound Lounge, 9:30 pm on 2 February 2019


2019 Grammy nomination - Air Glow by Du Yun

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Du Yun was born and raised in Shanghai, and is currently based in New York.  She’s a multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, activist and curator for new music.

Du Yun's daring Air Glow for 5 trumpets and laptops has been nominated for the Best Contemporary Classical Composition award at this year's Grammys. To be eligible for this category a work has to have been composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year.

Air Glow was commissioned by Festival of New Trumpet Music in 2006, and revised in 2018. The Grammy-nominated recording is from Du Yun's new album Dinosaur Scar featuring the International Contemporary Ensemble. It's a live performance from Du Yun Composer Portrait Concert at the Miller Theatre.

DU YUN: Air Glow
International Contemporary Ensemble
Tundra tun 011

Mason Bates - Liquid Interface

Mason Bates - Soundchecking at Santa Cruz's Cabrillo Festival

Mason Bates - Soundchecking at Santa Cruz's Cabrillo Festival Photo: Ron Jones

Water has influenced countless musical endeavors — La Mer and Siegfried's Rhine Journey quickly come to mind — but it was only after living on Berlin's enormous Lake Wannsee did I become consumed with a new take on the idea. If the play of the waves inspired Debussy, then what about water in its variety of forms?

Liquid Interface moves through all of them, inhabiting an increasingly hotter world in each progressive movement. "Glaciers Calving" opens with huge blocks of sound drifting slowly upwards through the orchestra, finally cracking off in the upper register. (Snippets of actual recordings of glaciers breaking into the Antarctic, supplied by the adventurous radio journalist Daniel Grossman, appear at the opening.) As the thaw continues, these sonic blocks melt into aqueous, blurry figuration. The beats of the electronics evolve from slow trip-hop into energetic drum 'n bass. The ensuing "Scherzo Liquido" explores water on a micro-level: droplets splash from the speakers in the form of a variety of nimble electronica beats, with the orchestra swirling around them.

The temperature continues to rise as we move into "Crescent City," which examines the destructive force as water grows from the small-scale to the enormous. This is illustrated in a theme and variations form in which the opening melody, at first quiet and lyrical, gradually accumulates a trail of echoing figuration behind it. In a nod to New Orleans, which knows the power of water all too well, the instruments trail the melody in a reimagination of Dixieland swing. As the improvisatory sound of a dozen soloists begins to lose control, verging into big-band territory, the electronics — silent in this movement until now — enter in the form of a distant storm. - Mason Bates

MASON BATES: Liquid Interface
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra/ Michael Tilson Thomas
SFS Media SFS 0065

Tim Deighton (vla), Dan Armstrong (perc)
Atoll ACD 202

From the same album ...when expectation ends

Keith Gates - Sonatina for flute & piano

Keith Gates was a Pennsylvania-based composer who described his music as Neo-Romantic. Composed in 1991, his Sonatina for Flute and Piano was a tribute to flutist Judy Hand “for her wonderful talent and our close friendship over many years” and was also the result of a barter agreement – payment for Judy teaching Keith’s daughter flute lessons at the time.

KEITH GATES: Sonatina for flute & piano
Judy Hand (fl), Keith Gates (pno)
Summit Records DCD 254

Eve de Castro-Robinson - Releasing the Angel

EVE DE CASTRO-ROBINSON: Releasing the Angel
David Chickering (cello), New Zealand SO
Atoll ACD 141

DU YUN: dreams-bend
International Contemporary Ensemble
Tundra tun 011

Adam Willets - Diggy from Up! Up! EP

Adam Willets live at Shirley Library, Christchurch

Adam Willets live at Shirley Library, Christchurch Photo: Supplied

Christchurch experimental musician Adam Willets uses a modular synthesizer to compose and perform his electronic music, crafting percussive and textural pieces that are raw and minimal yet ceaselessly shifting, fracturing, collapsing, transforming and evolving.

His music has been described as “spellbinding passages of Empyrean gurgly elegance and lustrous harmony from the graduate of transportative modular synth forms.”

Adam Willets (electronics)

Listen to more music by Adam Willets

11:05 Relevant Tones: Outtakes

There is so much great music in the world and we’ve discovered a lot of great works for programs. Sometimes we find so much great music we can’t possibly fit it all into a one-hour program. ‘Outtakes’ is a sample of fantastic music that we weren’t originally able to air on shows like Drum Kit: Problem Child, Vinyl, Zygmunt Krauze, and more. (WFMT)