“Lost in Colors” – Kay He, composer, piano
Edward Goodman, saxophone; Jackie Glazier, clarinet
Cecilia Cristina Palma, cello; Daniel Linder, piano
February 12, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Crowder Hall, $Free
The Fred Fox School of Music welcomes Yuanyuan (Kay) He to the faculty. Dr. He is an award-winning composer and video artist with roots in China. Her works often explore and intertwine various forms of media to create unique audiovisual experiences that engage the audience and involve collaborations with choreographers, dancers, video artists, audio technicians and stage lighting and design artists. At the University of Arizona, she teaches composition, electro-acoustic music and orchestration.
On the Excenter of a Blind Spot (2016)
Yuanyuan (Kay) HE, piano
Edward Goodman, alto saxophone
Daniel Linder, piano
On the Threshold of a Drizzly Reality (2013)
Cecilia C. Palma, cello
On the Arch of a Monochrome Rainbow (2016)
Jackie Glazier, clarinet
Love YOU … niverse (2015)
Audiovisual fixed media
LOST in COLORS (2020)
Daniel Linder, piano
HEAT it UP! (2019)
Jackie Glazier, clarinet
Yuanyuan (Kay) HE, piano
Please join us for a reception in the Green Room following the performance.
“On the Excenter of a Blind Spot,” for Piano and electronics, was inspired by the famous children’s book Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The story tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. It seems like a simple fairy tale, but it goes much deeper than that. Carroll describes a struggle with self-identity in a very controlled existence, which is conducted by a series of bizarre events. Feeling lost becomes a recurring theme in the book as Alice regularly expresses uncertainty about who she is after she enters Wonderland.
In my piece, the piano, electronic music, and video all become increasingly more distorted until they collapse. The scene becomes a hallucination. In Alice’s story, she discovers the world through uncertainty and self-questioning. Her whole world is based on an experience of hallucination. Hallucination is a mental disorder in some traditional conceptions, but hallucination also often reflects the nature of the mind, perception and our knowledge of the world. How do we perceive the world? Is it an existence of a series of hallucinations?
“On the Threshold of a Drizzly Reality” for cello and electronics is dedicated to cellist Nora Karakousoglou. The piece attempts to describe a mixed world of both my ideals and the stone-cold realities of my life. Everyone and everything enters my life for a certain reason, and at a certain time. This piece, too, came into my life with a purpose. It is a soul-searching piece for me. It describes the powerful emotion of my beautiful mind and imagination, and also reveals the various hard aspects of the reality that intrude on my life all the time. Perspective – drowning in illusion or dancing on the threshold of the reality.
The cellist is on the stage alone, which is the reality of how I individually exist in this world. The electronics, based on pre-recorded sounds of the cello, are the illusion. Processed cello reveals a mysterious world, which sings simultaneously with the live cello. They are tangled with each other. The audience is unable to distinguish what is real and what is the “illusion”. In the middle rhythmic section, the repeating notes travel through stage and surrounding speakers. The effect represents how fantasy and reality seem so interfused sometimes. On stage mic’d cello with reverberation is used to present a spatial-temporal variation of reality.
I wrote “Crispy,” which is for cello and piano, this past summer (2017) while I was away from Austin. For Chinese composers, our musical roots do not include Jazz. I am not familiar with Jazz in any way. However, during the summer of 2017, I started to listen to Jazz-style music and I became fascinated with the driven rhythm and passion of the music and musicians. Even though I had no background or experience with Jazz, it was the time I had to look at myself and say “why not?” So, that is where Crispy came to be. Let me know if it’s jazzy enough for you.
“On the Arch of a Monochrome Rainbow” for clarinet and cello was inspired by Nancy Rubins’ sculpture “Monochrome,” which is displayed on the UT Austin campus. “Monochrome” stands nearly 50 feet high and stretches across 24th Street. It comprises around 75 Kayaks, canoes, and small boats, arranged together to form a giant silver tree, and has become a significant landmark in Austin, TX. “Monochrome” develops a sense of mass and scale that is accompanied with true grace. Balance becomes the main theme of the sculpture. The premiere of this piece will be in the area of the sculpture. The clarinetist stands under the canopy of “Monochrome,” where a bouquet of aluminum canoes and boats blossoms over a busy pedestrian intersection on the University of Texas campus.
The sculpture accompanies the tall trees on the sidewalk, mixing with nature. There are many extended techniques I use for clarinet solo, such as large-scale glissando, bending tone, multiphonic techniques, etc. These create a very interesting sound palette, which become the source of the electronic sound. Sometimes it’s gentle and beautiful, sometimes it’s odd and harsh, sometimes it’s aggressive and overwhelming, sometimes it’s colorful and joyful, just like nature. How do we keep the balance in the world to continue to live along with nature? How do we enjoy the different shades of nature, and be part of it? It just like dancing on the arch of a monochrome rainbow. It’s overwhelming and also joyful.
“LOST in COLORS” for piano and Kyma sound system is commissioned by pianist Daniel Linder. Colors and emotions have a very intimate relationship. The way different colors can affect emotions depends largely on a color’s brightness, shade, tone, temperature, and saturation. Colors can make us feel excited and satisfied, they can also make us feel anxious and agitated. Just like people who came in my life, they all brought distinctive colors into my life journey. The world is a beautiful place, but it is the people in one’s life to make it colorful. I am grateful for everyone who has painted on my life canvas. Let’s get LOST in COLORS.
The piece, “Love YOU … niverse” written for UT Austin CAET Launch attempts to describe a hidden love story from one of my dreams.
“I see my entire body as a brilliant and luminous object, which is radiating with love and gratitude. The energy of this love is filling all cells of my physical body, and lighting up every corner of my mind. I feel the undeniably strong connection towards to you, and then, this shinning connection destroyed my world. My world collapses with yours. Born into the nova in the Love You … niverse. ”
In the piece, atmosphere ambient music combines with astronomic video to reveal the love universe, which is sentimental, unreal, and full of adventures, creativities and conflicts.
“HEAT it UP!” for clarinet, piano, and electronics, was commissioned by clarinetist Jackie Glazier. Last summer (2018), I moved from Austin, TX to Tucson, AZ. Both cities’ summer can be extremely hot, but in different ways. While Austin tends to be humid and sticky, Tucson is much hotter and drier with periodic monsoon rains. While Austin is mostly flat with some rolling hills around its edges, Tucson is a desert oasis surrounded by rugged mountains where saguaro cacti thrive, which creates that signature southwestern vibe. While dry and dusty, since coming to Tucson, the beauty of Sonoran Desert has truly inspired me in many ways.
I often thought brownish yellow was the only color in the desert, but I have been surprised by the Sonoran Desert’s rich color palette. It has a burning pink sunset over the mountains, the purple Milky Way framed by gigantic pine trees on Mt. Lemmon, creosote bushes with their bright yellow flowers emit the “smell of the rain,” and the rich blue sky is decorated by high definition monsoon storm clouds. All the colors become hotter and brighter under the scorching sun. Immerse yourself in these inspiring colors and let the desert HEAT UP your imagination.
Dr. Yuanyuan (Kay) He is a composer and video artist with roots in China. Her works often explore and intertwine various forms of media to create unique audiovisual experiences that engage the audience. Many of her works involve collaborations with choreographers, dancers, video artists, audio technicians, and stage lighting and design artists. As a multimedia composer, she is very active in the music community. Kay serves as the Creative Director for Electronic Music Midwest (EMM), which is an annual music festival dedicated to programming a wide variety of electroacoustic music and providing high quality electronic media performances. She is also the founder and Director of the Turn Up Multimedia Festival, which works to promote Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Culture-Connecting, and Equality. She is currently Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona, where she teaches composition, electro-acoustic music, and orchestration.
During her career, Kay has won many awards and been selected for many performances in the U.S. and abroad. Of note, her piano trio Imprint of the Spring Breeze won the grand prize at the 2nd ACC International Composition Competition (Gwangju, South Korea). ISCM selected the flute and electronics piece On the Pivot of an Abandoned Carousel for 2016 World Music Days (Tongyeong, South Korea). Passeig de Grácia for orchestra was selected for ACO Underwood New Music Readings (New York, NY). On the Threshold of a Drizzly Reality for cello and electronics was selected for performances at the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) in Athens, Greece and the Root Signals music festival (Jacksonville, Florida). Shadow of Dewdrops was selected as a finalist for TICF (Bangkok, Thailand) and the installment of Gamma UT (Austin, TX). Legends of Old Peking won Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composition Competition. Dying Away won the DuoSolo Emerging Composer Competition (Cortona, Italy). And, Destiny of Sputnik was chosen for Beijing Modern Music Festival Young Composers Project.
Kay earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and her Master of Music degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin where she studied under Dr. Russell Pinkston and Dr. Yevgeniy Sharlat.