Eight Immortals and the Sea
Digital downloads of score/parts. Watch the premiere recording here.
Eight Immortals and the Sea was commissioned by Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia in 2022. It draws inspiration from the Chinese Taoism mythology. The Eight Immortals are considered to be signs of prosperity and longevity, so they are popular themes in ancient and medieval art. Among the literature on the subject, one of the work made during the Ming Dynasty (c. 14th–15th centuries) is called The Eight Immortals Cross the Sea. It is about the Immortals on their way to attend the Conference of the Magical Peach when they encounter an ocean. Instead of relying on their clouds to get them across, Lü Dongbin suggested that they each should exercise their unique powers to get across. Derived from this, the Chinese proverb “The Eight Immortals cross the sea, each reveals its divine powers” indicates the situation that everybody shows off their skills and expertise to achieve a common goal.
In the composition, the eight players who each musically represent one of the legendary Immortals depict a more abstract and loose-structured picture of the story. The music takes over its own logic beyond the inspiration and focuses on the collaborative and dramatic elements represented in the story. It also treats the “sea” as an equally important aspect to present the relationship between individual Immortals (each musician) and the Sea (composite sound world contributed by the entire ensemble).