Early Spring that No One Sees
for viola, percussion and piano (2012)
Viola 1 Percussionist (Filipino kulintang or Cambodian korng thomm, crotales, vibraphone, hi-hat cymbals, suspended cymbal, Thai nipple gong, Peking Opera gong , Japanese Temple bowl [high], Korean ching [suspended], 2 bongos [high, middle], 2 tom-toms [middle, low], wood block [high/hollow], bass drum) Piano
duration: 14′ 00″
Early Spring the No One Sees draws its inspiration from Kunqu—the mother form of Chinese opera, specifically Wendy Li Mark’s translation of the Peony Pavilion with its fragile transitory image of emergent hidden beauty that ‘no one sees.’ This is used in my music as a metaphor of hidden moments of sonic colour on the cusp of emerging, that suddenly then flourish as ecstatic climaxes. Labyrinths of emergent sonic colours recur as hidden moments throughout the piece. The viola’s use of subtle variations of vibrato, harmonics and noise techniques merge with transient East and Southeast Asian gongs (including either Filipino kulintang or Cambodian korng thomm) and bowed crotales and vibraphone; all of these are undergirded by moments of overtone resonances from stopped-strings and interval-colours on piano. Momentary utterances of Sydney Blue Mountain frog-inspired rhythmic counterpoint, largely on viola, abruptly interrupt the quieter hidden colouristic textures, before combining with kulintang-driven repeated note rhythms jousting with free-jazz inspired chains of fourth-based chords on piano. The macrocosmic structure works as emergent colours towards two swirling climaxes of ecstatic joy with the quieter colours weaving around them and utilising vocalizations to reveal the poetic heart of the work—the sensory moment of ‘zheyi shatian’ (this brief moment).
Performance History Early Spring that No One Sees is dedicated to my friends Susan Ung (viola) and Lynn Varton (percussion) for performance in Los Angeles, USA.
score available from