Lalita (2015)

Lalita is the name of one of the eight principal gopis in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. She is known as Krishna’s loving consort, with a fierce and loving personality. She is beautiful, smart, and spontaneous. Like other female deities in Hinduism, she possesses the feminine energy that is charming and enigmatic.

I started writing the piece with a very simple melody with a dance-like accompaniment, yet it is soon fused with much complexity in harmony and rhythm in a way I did not foresee. The crafting process was almost effortless, and I barely spent any time on designing the tonal language and formal structure. The name Lalita came to me by accident after I completed the piece. Though the work does not have any religious references, and I consider it as a piece of absolute music, Lalita’s mysterious beauty captures the spirit of the piece perfectly.

The piece was commissioned by the American Guild of Organists Student Commissioning Project 2016. Premiered by Alex Meszler at Bales Recital Hall, the University of Kansas on April 26, 2016. 

See more details from the AGO website.

Trio for Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano (2015)

The piece is based on a Cantonese Melody, which is a lullaby sung by a mother to her son. It also contains hope for the son to grow up well and be a good member of the family. I imagine that the young son was trying to act naughty as he listened to the song, but he could not resist the kind voice of and gradually fell asleep.

Premiered by Shirin Abvabi (clarinet), Miriam Brack Webber (bassoon) and Teng Fu (piano) on October 20, 2015 at Swarthout Recital Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.


A Star Ferry Ride (2016)

Star Ferry is a major tourist attraction in Hong Kong. It has more than a hundred years of history, and the ferry carries passengers across the Victoria Harbour. As people wait for the ride and get aboard, one can hear the low-pitched ferry horn, beeps from the gates, lots of footsteps, and of course, water. I try to capture the sounds and the motion of the ferry in this piece.  The tuba represents the movement of the ferry, from getting ready to depart to its arrival on the other side of the Harbour, while the piano mimics the environmental noise where the ferry locates. The pitch content of the piece is completely taken from the opening gestures of the tuba part. They are arranged in a 9-chord series and are played several times before the series retrogrades.

Premiered by Max Gerhart (tuba) and Christina Liu (piano) on April 6, 2016 at Swarthout Recital Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. 

Also performed at:

  • 2016 New Music Festival, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.
    • Michael Casey, tuba; Brett Chittenden, piano
  • 2019 Music by Women Festival, Mississippi University for Women, Columbus, MS.
    • Jeremy Crawford, tuba; Jonathan Levin, piano

To Thee, With Love — A Cèilidh (2015)

Cèilidh, in Scottish Gaelic language, is a social gathering with many dances.The set was written for Margaret Lambie as part of the collaboration project of the composition and flute studios. Margaret expressed her interest in Celtic music when we met, while I was firstly exposed to Scottish fiddling when I attended Silkroad’s Global Musician Workshop in summer 2015. I thought it would be interesting to write a piece for her in different Celtic styles.

This set of flute solo work is eventually inspired by Celtic and American fiddle tunes and folk songs (yet only one folk tune, Little Mary Cassidy, is quoted in the third movement). The three movements are written in American, Scottish and Irish styles respectively, and the titles are taken from poems from the same region. It is arranged to tell a simple love story – from the initial electrifying attraction, to the sacred promise, and finally the happiness dwelling within.

  1. I’ll Love Thee for those Sparkling Eyes — A Country Dance
  2. I’d Shelter Thee, I’d Shelter Thee — An Air
  3. To Love You in the Old High Way of Love — A Hornpipe

Premiered by Margaret Lambie on April 6, 2016.

5 Sketches of Water (2014)

The 5 short pieces written in 2014 were inspired by 5 quotes from poems and Quran, all of which described different forms of water. The deeper meanings of the quotes, however, were related to memories, aging and death. I tried to mimic water on the piano by using different figures, and the form of each piece was modelled after the content in the text. The piece was written in loving memory of my Grandmother Huang Yeying (1932-2014), who passed away on the day I started working on the piece.

  1. The River
  2. Soft Rain
  3. Snow Flakes
  4. Vapor
  5. Still Water

Recorded by Qichen Jiang in October 2015, premiered by Neal Long on April 6, 2016.