Kung Fu

(2020)

  • For piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, Eb clarinet, 3 Bb clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 3 C trumpets, 4 horns in F, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, timpani, 4 percussion, harp, double bass, piano

  • Duration: 18 minutes

  • Commissioned by a consortium of 20 wind bands led by Glen Adsit and the Hartt Wind Ensemble

  • Program notes:

    When people talk about Kung Fu, they often think of China. However, as a composer born and grew up in China, my understanding of Kung Fu was somewhat ambiguous. True, Kung Fu has a strong link with Martial Arts, which has attracted hundreds of thousands of admirers and followers worldwide. However, on the other hand, Kung Fu has become an umbrella term that has come to encompass many aspects of Chinese people's daily lives, such as popular culture, exercise regimens, interpersonal relationships, aesthetics, philosophies, and so on.

    It was not until I encountered a documentary on Bruce Lee's journey with Kung Fu and Hollywood that I started to comprehend the core spirit that Kung Fu has in guiding one's endeavors and life pursuits. As a result, I decided to compose a work with my own reflection of Kung Fu and its spirit.

    In three movements, Kung Fu explores the different styles and levels of what Kung Fu represents to people in a universal way. A more general summary of the Wushu spirit in the first movement, a contrasting second movement focusing on the soft yet powerful Tai Chi, both lead to the final movement of "Jiang Hu." As Bruce Rusk, a professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, interpreted, "Jianghu...refers to a social space in which people are away from familial and local ties for extended periods that are governed by informal rules (officials away from home are not in jianghu). I couldn't find a good catchall translation. In this case, it could be "the scene," as Kaiser Kuo suggests, or even "everyone" (implicitly, everyone involved in martial arts)." Jianghu, in this case, is also a representation of my ultimate understanding of Kung Fu. It represents a universal rule, belief, and practice rooted in all of us. It catalyzes to connect people in different backgrounds for a more harmonized society.

    Kung Fu was commissioned by a consortium of 20 wind bands led by conductor Glen Adsit and the Hartt Wind Ensemble.

Stacking

(2019)

  • For concert band (piccolo, 4 flutes, oboe, clarinet in Eb, 3 clarinets in Bb, bass clarinet in Bb, bassoon, 2 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 2 horns in F, 3 trumpets in C, 2 tenor trombones, euphonium, tuba, 4 percussion)

  • Duration: 5 minutes

  • Program notes:

    Stacking was a failed grade 3 attempt because it ended up being grade 4. But more importantly, it is also a fun work exploring different scales, the most basic musical elements all musicians need to learn and practice. It evolves around major, minor scales, as well as whole-tone, octatonic scales with the energetic rhythmic driving forces.

The Last Hive Mind

(2019)

  • Available in multiple instrumentations (click grade levels to be directed)

    • Grade 6 (7 minutes): 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 Bb clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 2 horns in F, Bb trumpet, trombone, double bass, piano, 2 percussion

    • Grade 4 (5 minutes): piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 Bb clarinets, baa clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 3 trumpets, 2 horns, 3 tenor trombones, euphonium, tuba, piano, 3 percussion

    • Grade 3 (3 minutes, The Last Hive Mind II): piccolo, 4 flutes, oboe, 3 Bb clarinets, bass clarinet, bassoon, 2 alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 2 horns in F, 3 Bb trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, 4 percussion

  • Grade 3 version was commissioned by the ASPIRE Institute

  • Program notes:

    The Last Hive Mind was written for conductor Glen Adsit and the Foot in the Door Ensemble at the Hartt School. Inspired by the British TV series, Black Mirror, and the general idea of recent increasing debate around artificial intelligence and how it will affect our daily lives as human beings. I put some of my thoughts, perspectives, and imagination into this work. Thanks to Glen for coming up with the dynamic and matching title — it also helped in the shaping of how musical narrative navigates its way throughout.

    Mainly, I was struck by the idea in one episode of "Black Mirror," the "Metalhead." After the unexplained collapse of human society, a group of people tried to flee from the robotic "dogs," a vast hive mind with metal built bodies and powerful computerized "brains." The failure was almost predictable. However, a detail that struck me the most was the reason that these human beings got trapped in the crazy chase was because of their effort of searching a comforting gift for a very sick child — a fluffy teddy bear. In The Last Hive Mind, two forces fight with each other — the robotic, rhythmic, seemingly unbreakable "hive mind" music, versus the dreamy, melodic, and warm "lullaby" tune. Lastly, presented by the piano, the "lullaby" music is also a quote from my mini piano concerto, Canton Snowstorm. As the title indicates, this work depicts the struggle between the artificial intelligence, or the hive mind, and the dimming humanity; furthermore, the work implies the final collapse and breakdown of the last hive mind followed by its triumph.

The Last Hive Mind II

(2019)

  • Grade 3 (3 minutes): piccolo, 4 flutes, oboe, 3 Bb clarinets, bass clarinet, bassoon, 2 alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 2 horns in F, 3 Bb trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, 4 percussion

  • Commissioned by the ASPIRE Institute

  • Program notes:

    The Last Hive Mind was written for conductor Glen Adsit and the Foot in the Door Ensemble at the Hartt School. Inspired by the British TV series, Black Mirror, and the general idea of recent increasing debate around artificial intelligence and how it will affect our daily lives as human beings. I put some of my thoughts, perspectives, and imagination into this work. Thanks to Glen for coming up with the dynamic and matching title — it also helped in the shaping of how musical narrative navigates its way throughout.

    Mainly, I was struck by the idea in one episode of "Black Mirror," the "Metalhead." After the unexplained collapse of human society, a group of people tried to flee from the robotic "dogs," a vast hive mind with metal built bodies and powerful computerized "brains." The failure was almost predictable. However, a detail that struck me the most was the reason that these human beings got trapped in the crazy chase was because of their effort of searching a comforting gift for a very sick child — a fluffy teddy bear. In The Last Hive Mind, two forces fight with each other — the robotic, rhythmic, seemingly unbreakable "hive mind" music, versus the dreamy, melodic, and warm "lullaby" tune. Lastly, presented by the piano, the "lullaby" music is also a quote from my mini piano concerto, Canton Snowstorm. As the title indicates, this work depicts the struggle between the artificial intelligence, or the hive mind, and the dimming humanity; furthermore, the work implies the final collapse and breakdown of the last hive mind followed by its triumph.

Slippery Slope

(2014)

  • For 4 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, Eb clarinet, 3 Bb clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 4 horns in F, 3 Bb trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, timpani, 4 percussion, piano, double bass

  • Duration: 13 minutes

  • Winner of 2014 ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Prize

  • Program notes:

    As a composer, the first decision I have to make concerns process. The first note of Slippery Slope was put to paper only after I had the whole second movement in mind — at that time, this was one and only movement. And it was not until I had almost finished the movement that I developed ideas about the third movement, and the first, chronologically.

    There are several different levels or definitions interpreted about “slippery slope” in the piece. While the second movement, or the main movement explores various relationships between two different musical personalities (one rigid and angular, the other lyrical and emotional), and constrains every possible growth from developing into a final climax until the very last moment, the third movement offers the audience straightforward and undisguised excitement with the partially humorous, partially passionate journey as it takes so much effort to arrive the peak (the second movement is indeed the longest) before slipping down the slope. Consider the first movement as a mystifying preparation interrupted by several “trailers” — fragments from the subsequent two movements, that either reveal or obscure what will happen next.

    Slippery Slope is dedicated to my mentor Glen Adsit, and is a gift to The Hartt Wind Ensemble, where I served as pianist during my undergraduate school time.