Love Song from the Kalabai River

Love Song from the Kalabai River (2010)
for Solo Percussion and Orchestra

Commissioned by  Sayun Chang

World Premiere:
August 1, 2010
Taiwanese Aborigines Concert
National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan
Sayun Chang, percussion
Wen-Chen Chuang conducts Evengreeen Symphony Orchestra

1 Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets (Bb), 1 Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons,
1 Contrabassoon, 4 Horns, 2 Trumpets (C), 1 Trombone, 1 Bass Trombone
Timpani, Percussion (Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Suspended Cymbal, 3 Cowbells, Slapsticks, Claves, Tambourine, Bamboo Wind Chime), Solo Percussion (Marimba, 5 Wood Blocks, 3 Tom-Toms, Kick Drum), and Strings

Duration: 13 minutes

Program Notes

Love Song from the Kalabai River is commissioned by the percussionist Sayun Chang, who, like I, is studying for the DMA (doctor of musical arts) degree at the Hartt School, University of Hartford, CT.  She requested a piece for solo percussion and orchestra for her to perform with Evergreen Symphony Orchestra in the summer of 2010, and this piece had to be inspired by a folk song of Taiwanese indigenous peoples.

Sayun was born with the origins of the aboriginal Atayal, so I set out to seek for some tunes from the Atayal tribe and found an Atayal love song that could inspire the composition of the whole piece.  This love song describes a girl’s coyness when she is invited to the Kalabai riverbank by a boy.  Although it is common to have fun with friends near the riverbank, this girl has to deny because she is too young to promise the boy without asking her parents’ permission; or, she will be blamed for the lack of decorum.

In this piece, I not only quoted the tune of this Atayal love song but also recomposed it as a main composing element.  I tried to combine it with the other composing materials, particularly, quintal chords and parallel motions, yet frequently changed the musical gestures by reassembling different characteristics.  The general musical form of this piece is a fantasy with free development, constant transformation, and nostalgic expression.  I named this single-movement piece, Love Song from the Kalabai River, to emphasize on the link to the original Atayal one yet portray different kinds of emotion and love with the musical mimicry of water.

Lastly, I would like to thank the Council of Aboriginal Affairs of Taipei City Government for supporting me to compose this piece and making a premiere performance possible.

This recording is the world premiere performance.

The YouTube video is the the premiere live performance.





– Feng-Hsu Lee (July 10, 2010 Yunlin, Taiwan)

6 thoughts on “Love Song from the Kalabai River

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