Premiered by Alice Chung, Mezzo soprano; Adriane Hill, flute; Larissa Fedoryka, cello; Heena Yoon, piano/composition, June 8, 2014, Santa Barbara, California
(Click performers' name to see their website)
Text: Sara Teasdale's poem, "A Prayer"
A Prayer - Sara Teasdale
When I am dying, let me know
That I loved the blowing snow
Although it stung like whips;
That I loved all lovely things
And I tried to take their stings
With gay unembittered lips;
That I loved with all my strength,
To my soul's full depth and length,
Careless if my heart must break,
That I sang as children sing
Fitting tunes to everything,
Loving life for its own sake.
나 죽을 때 나에게 말해 주세요
채찍처럼 살 속을 파고들어도
나는 휘날리는 눈을 사랑했다고요
그 모든 아름다움을 사랑했노라고요
그 아픔을 기쁘고 선한 미소로 받아들이려 애썼다고요
나의 심장이 찢어진다 해도
나의 영혼이 닿는 데까지
깊숙이 혼신을 다 바쳐 사랑했노라고요
나의 삶 그 자체를 사랑하며
모든 것에 곡조를 붙여서
A Prayer (poem by Sara Teasdale) - Heena Yoon
00:00 / 00:00
For String Quartet, Pre-recorded nature sound, and Penguin toys!
“If all glaciers melt away by global warming, what would happen?”
"how can a music piece be more vocal in social issues, in a humorous way?"
"how to invite the audiences into the performance-making (and help them not touch their phone), as active participators, stepping out of the passive "sit back and enjoy the music" attitude?"
"how to bridge between a children's book, string quartet, environmental sound, and props in the simplest way?"
On the journey to find answers to those questions, severe wildfire and the following mudslide in California (again, global warming issue) seriously impeded the workshop and rehearsals of this piece. In the difficult time, however, collaborators' understanding and support truly compensated the problematic process - it was a true god-send.
First, I had Andrew Tholl, a violin player of the Formalist Quartet, as my current composition advisor while writing this 'weird' piece. Severely delayed by the natural disaster, the tight schedule of writing- rehearsing- performing became even more unpredictable, however, the fact that I had him as my current advisor and performer turned out that I had reserved enough time to talk about the piece before the natural disaster. Therefore, the performance became possible thanks to his, and all quartet members' deep understanding of the piece in a limited time.
Second, another VIP, Very Important Part - audience participation with penguin toys! Here I had a great fortune to be supported by designer G.young Lee, a founder of Repengur, with her hand-painted penguin blocks, book, floor mat, and other props- it was a quite adventure to transport all the heavy wood penguin blocks from Seoul to California! It was more than it sounded - because of my hectic flight schedule, those penguins flew with me from Seoul-Beijing-New York (and New Jersey)-Dallas-Los Angeles, and finally Santa Barbara. Those penguins were the highlight of the audience-participation.
This piece was written right after participating in the Balinese Gamelan workshop in Bali, Indonesia. Derived from the Balinese Gamelan music, short fragments of 2-4 notes accumulate in the course of repetition, change and improvisation. The high degree of repetition allows the players to feel at ease, but motivated. It also deepens the audience’s interest by keeping them guessing about when the repetition will end. An abrupt halt and departure may puzzle listeners in a productive way. Even after all the sound stops, I hope that the fragments will be indelibly imprinted on the players’ and audience’s memory and continue to stimulate them.
This piece was written as an homage to Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, inspired by his authobiography Die Welt von Gestern (The World of Yesterday) and his suicide letter.
On February 22, 1942, Stefan Zweig and his second wife Charlotte Elisabeth Altmann committed suicide together in Petrópolis, Brazil. In his suicide letter, Zweig wrote:
“Every day I learned to love this country more, and I would not have asked to rebuild my life in any other place after the world of my own language sank and was lost to me and my spiritual homeland, Europe, destroyed itself.
However to start everything anew after a man’s 60th year requires special powers, and my own power has been expended after years of wandering homeless. I thus prefer to end my life at the right time, upright, as a man for whom cultural work has always been his purest happiness and personal freedom – the most precious of possessions on this earth.
I send greetings to all of my friends: May they live to see the dawn after this long night. I, who am most impatient, go before them.”