Taiwan takes over Hartford!

1 May

There seems to be a theme emerging this year of music inspired by Taiwan. We had a recent post about Robert Carl’s new woodwind quintet based on Taiwanese birdsong, and now here’s an entry by oboist Charles Huang on Feng-Hsu Lee‘s Phantasy for oboe and English horn. This work will be opening the festival this Saturday, but in the meantime, you can listen to Oboe Duo Agosto‘s performance here (along with the composer’s performance notes).

Phantasy for Oboe and English horn was commissioned by Oboe Duo Agosto for the inaugural Asian Double Reed Conference in 2011, which took place in Bangkok, Thailand. We wanted a piece that had a strong Taiwanese influence, to reflect our mixed backgrounds. Charles was born in Taiwan, but raised in America; Ling-Fei’s family emigrated from Taiwan to Montreal, Quebec when she twelve. Feng-Hsu, a Taiwanese composer pursuing his doctorate at The Hartt School, used a traditional folk melody from the Atayal people, a tribe of Taiwanese aborigines (melody is posted below).

We love this piece for its use of the folk melody in many forms and fragments, oftentimes with strong dissonances or in different rhythmical contexts. Even though there are only two melodic lines, his counterpoint creates a very dense texture at times. The variety with which he uses these ideas comes to fruition in the form of a “phantasy,” a single movement work that features multiple sections with contrasting rhythms and character, yet with unifying ideas.

— Charles Huang

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