Gentleness-suddenness : for mezzo-soprano, violin, percussion and piano
by Bruce Crossman (2012)
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Gentleness-Suddenness: is a meditation on love and creativity inspired by and a fusion of texts drawn from the Chinese Opera tradition of Kunqu, specifically the Peony Pavilion, and Judaic-Christian biblical texts from Genesis, Psalms, Song of Songs and Revelation. The work is structured in two parts concerned with elemental themes. The first part, Water and Fire, is structured in one arc beginning and ending in silence with cathartic outpouring at the centre: the central static underpinning of Filipino gong music structure is at its heart. This movement explores a fusion of a contemporary avant-garde harmonic language with Southeast and East Asian modal sounds, Jingju and Cantonese Opera rhythmic movement, Jingju melodic shape and Cantonese vocal line inflections with musical gestures inspired by calligraphical painting. The second part, Spirit, is also structured in one arc. Beginning in stillness, the music builds to frenetic and raucous movement at the center, before subsiding back to stillness. Quiet understated moments permeated by fragments of Kunqu melody with Shang-tia mode-based interval-colour sonorities flank the center section; their resonances of interval-colour with vibraphone and Japanese Temple bowl resonances providing suggestions of the spiritual, creative and erotic stillness of "zhe yi sha tian" (this brief moment).
Instrumentation: Mezzo-soprano (including clap-sticks), violin, percussion (1 player: kulintang, crotales, vibraphone, suspended cymbal, hi-hat cymbals, Peking Opera gongs [middle, high], Japanese temple bowl [high], k’kwaenggwari [suspended], ching [suspended], Thai nipple gong, bass drum, 1 Tom-tom [middle], 3 bongos [low, middle, high], wood block [suspended]), piano.
Duration: 40 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Advanced — Complex rhythmic detail and changing colour nuances
Dedication note: Dedicated to Colleen, my beautiful wife of twenty-five years
Commission note: Commissioned with funds provided by Australia Council. Music Board, Campbelltown Arts Centre.. Commissioned for the performers Lotte Latukefu (mezzo-soprano), James Cuddeford (violin), Claire Edwardes (percussion) and Bernadette Harvey (piano) with filmmaker Iqbal Barkat for performance at the New Music Series 2013, Campbelltown Arts Centre
The composer notes the following influences/genres/styles associated with this work:
Chinese Opera (Kunqu, Cantonese Opera, Jingju), Filipino kulintang; Peony Pavilion and Judaic-Christian biblical texts from Genesis, Psalms, Song of Songs and Revelation; intercultural Asian-Pacific.
Resonate article: Living colours - from Chinese opera to an Australian music theatre work by Bruce Crossman
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