We are so grateful to the Chinese Fine Arts Society and to their Artist-in-Residence Yuan-Qing Yu for curating our upcoming concert inspired by Yiyun Li’s stories in Gold Boy, Emerald Girl.
Join us for this concert on Sunday, April 15 at 2:00 PM at the Harold Washington Library Center. In the meantime, allow us to tease you with these concert notes from the curator:
Literature and music are inseparable; both are the essence of enlightenment. Goethe once said: “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry every day… in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”
When I was asked to curate this concert in support of YiYun Li’s “Gold Boy, Emerald Girl”, I was very excited to combine my two loves. Li’s book is a collection of short stories, each rich with emotions and is beautifully crafted. I want this concert program to be the perfect union for this wonderful book.
Cursive for Flute and Piano – Chou Wen Chung
I chose “Cursive” with “Kindness” in mind, not only because one of the characters in “Kindness” is a flutist, but also because the venerable Chou Wen Chung’s works are always based on principles drawn from traditional Chinese paintings and Chinese theories of ‘Yin/Yang’ and ‘I-Ching’. These qualities resonate with what the New York Times’ reviewer said about Li, “What’s distinctive about YiYun Li’s work is the contrast between its emotional intensity and its calm”.
Being for Clarinet and Viola – Huang Ruo
Huang Ruo’s “Being” is chosen because of the title, and the alliance of the Clarinet and the Viola despite the distinctions between the two. This reflects the heart of the story “A Man Like Him”.
C.A.G.E for Piano – Tan Dun
Tan Dun’s “C.A.G.E.” is written in memory of composer John Cage. The restrictive nature of the piece, (the entire piece is composed from only four notes, C A G E), and the play on the word “cage” is the perfect pairing of Li’s third story “Prison”.
My Hometown Far Away – Bin Li *Migratory Journeys World Premiere
Chen QiGang’s Le Souvenir is a direct link by title to Li’s story Souvenir. Bin Li’s “My Hometown Far Away” is a tribute to YiYun Li’s life as an immigrant. In Lei Liang’s Five Seasons, the Pipa and the String Quartet “achieves exuberant synergy together” and reaches “expressive extremes”. Aren’t these the emotions mirrored by the longings and desperate desires portrayed in Li’s stories?
Vivian Fung: Miniatures for Clarinet and String quartet
Vivian Fung’s “Miniatures” serves as the ideal summary of the nine stories in “Gold Boy, Emerald Girl”. Whether this sonic program gives you the feeling of pleasure, melancholy or despair, I hope the union of literature and music from today’s program will leave you satisfied.
Performers include pipa virtuoso Yang Wei, members of Fifth House Ensemble, Spektral Quartet and Camerata Chicago.