May-Tchi Chen - The Scintillating Snow

Workshop performance video

I stared into the snow in the middle of winter and experienced serenity. The line is at times solid, sometime broken. The motion of snow falling has a timeless quality, which aspires to the sonority of ancient Chinese zither Qin. The strokes and the melodies of the viola and the cello in the middle of the piece resonate the Qin music. Meanwhile the tremolos of the violins assimilate silver lights shimmering on the snow.

The passages have a chasing and playful quality among parts yet there is an undercurrent of thoughtful reflection, like melancholy or joyful incidences, which have happened, and passed away, cherished and remembered.

Thoughts are the shorebirds scurrying back and forth just beyond the edge of oncoming waves.

Composer: May-Tchi Chen

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Photo of May-Tchi Chen

Chen’s most prominent work is a new opera The Firmiana Rain, which is based on a love tragedy in the 900's well known to most Asians. The New York City Opera selected The Firmiana Rain for their Vox 2002: Showcasing American Composers. A full production was premiered at National Theater, Taipei, Taiwan. The opera was also performed in Beijing, and at Minado-Mirai in Yokohama, Japan.

She collaborates with excellent musicians worldwide for new works, such as flutist Pierre-Yves Artauds, renown violinist Cho-Liang Lin and pipa virtuoso Wu Man. Groups that have performed her works include the University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble, Shanghai Silk and Bamboo Ensemble, Darmstadt Ferienkurs Ensemble, Taipei Municipal Chinese Classical Ensemble, Cincinnati Philharmonic Orchestra, Taipei Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra 2001, Pulse Percussion Group, Relâche Ensemble, and the French Ensemble 2e2m. Her music was played worldwide, and appeared in films.

The Cincinnati Enquirer described her orchestral work Continuum as 'mesmerizing to watch as to hear,' and also commented 'Chen displayed an ingenuous use of timbres and virtuoso writing.'

The New York Times called her percussion piece, Beyond the Festival, 'compelling – the metrically complex structure exhibits an aggressive edge that gives it both drama and drive.'

Having explored a variety of contemporary aesthetics and composition techniques in earlier pieces, Ms. Chen's recent works have incorporated Oriental influences, ranging from the ancient Chinese Elegant Music found in the Japanese and Korean Court Music to Taiwanese folk theater music.


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