A Poem of Mid-Autumn

A Poem of Mid-Autumn (2002)
for High Voice, Cello and Piano

World Premiere:
June 13, 2003
Feng-Hsu Lee MA Degree Recital
Recital Hall of National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
Hao-Fang Chuang, soprano; Ying-Ming Huang, cello; Min-Kuei Yang, piano

Duration: 16 minutes

Program Notes

On the night of September 11, 2001, I heard from the radio on the taxi about the collapse of the Twin Towers, the World Trade Center.  Later, the television news report corroborated the news; I saw two airplanes crashing onto two huge buildings.  The crash gave rise to the smoke that covered the sky and people ran for life in panic.  Debris scattered everywhere and devoured most people.  Many people’s lives, like dust in the wind, ended in nothingness, or like some fragments of books, burned to ashes.  At the sight of the tragedy, I learned the mutability of life and the vulnerability of human beings.

In October that year, I intended to compose a new work, and my main concern centered on what a composer could do about this tragedy.  I always think that as a composer, I have the responsibility of consoling people, be they dead or alive, for music has the power of communication and expression, the power of expressing people’s immediate emotion and assuaging their painful feeling.  I, therefore, composed one movement of the orchestral piece based on 911 incident, The Victims in the Crash of Orchestra (2002).  In the meanwhile, I encountered some difficulties and not until May of 2002 could I finish the whole work.

Before I composed The Victim in the Crash of Orchestra, I read Mr. Chen Li’s new poem on the Internet, “A Poem of Mid-Autumn.”  At first, I had no confidence in turning the poem into the ballade.  Indeed, not until I finished composing TheVictim in the Crash of Orchestra did I understand more about Mr. Chen’s poem, and gradually music came to me and flowed through my pen.  A Poem of Mid-Autumn for High Voice, Cello and Piano, therefore, came into being.

Seeing that the orchestral piece takes greater pains to perform, I adopt chamber music for soprano, cello, and piano and I also appropriate some motifs and notions of The Victim in the Crash of Orchestra.  Both pieces share the tone of the overlapping of the chord of the fifth and serve as the supplement to each other.

Lastly, I would like to dedicate my wholehearted gratitude to Mr. Chen Li for his kindly allowing me to compose this piece based on his poem.

– Feng-Hsu Lee (June 1, 2003 Taipei ,Taiwan)

“A Poem of Mid-Autumn”
Poem by Chen Li
English Translations by Yi-Yin Lee 

After the summer moon festival, two typhoons going away,
the weather is getting cold.  All of sudden, I feel I owe myself
or someone else a poem,
a poem of autumn.

Perhaps I owe the Bunung student transferred from the country.
I test him on twenty-four seasonal periods in the lunar calendar:
after the incipient summer comes the prime
and after the winter dew falls the frost.
He loves McDonalds’ stuffs—
sometimes a 20-dollar small pack of French fries,
or sometimes 10-dollar ice cream.
He knows his people in the Paqonan month will brew the wine: (1)
making wooden spades, they’ll begin cultivation with ceremonies,
at the very moment when he has the moon cake.

Perhaps I owe the friend who I haven’t met for a long time, who live so faraway,
who once lived near by the Hudson river, which reflected the shadow
of the New York’s tallest Twin Towers terrorists destroyed. (2)
The shadow of the Twin Towers gone,
people in the darker shadow remain.
Days and nights, no one sleeps tight.
I received a letter others transferred to me,
a letter written by a suspected hijacker,
who accused America of bombing his parents dead in the name of Justice.
In Arabia, many refugees died when Americans sang “God Blesses America.”
Between the shadow of the Twin Towers of the powerful and the powerless and of faith and justice lay I, sleepless as well. 

I am as sleepless as
a poem that I have failed to compose, a poem I have owed myself for years,
a poem of autumn.
It is the autumn when the typhoon of September secretly caused floods, higher than humans’ brains, which
overwhelm all the stuffs left in the attic, the basement, and the bottom of memory,
stuffs—damp and rotten—flowing out to streets,
when you looked afar from the reefs to the capricious fear you treasured and amazed,
and when stars of summer night shone in her eyes, from which fragrance emanated,
and love hovered above her with
the dark noise,

the terrorist of beauty.

We all try to grasp the moon in the river,
and to satiate ourselves with the pancake on paper we draw again and over—
a pancake so huge that we can never finish,
a legend complete but empty.
We always seem to owe ourselves or others
a poem, a poem like the laurel Wu-Gang fails to fell,
an laurel heals when it is wooded, a poem that cannot be accomplished,
a forever blank poem.

Notes
(1) Paqonan is the seasonal period when the Dan tribe of Bunang holds the ceremony of cultivation, at the time of September.
(2) The Twin Towers, commonly known for the two 110-flat buildings of the World Trade Center, collapsed when two hijacked Boeings crashed onto them on September 11, 2001.

This recording is the live performance from:
November 16, 2003
The Night of New Music
Bach Recital Hall, Taipei, Taiwan
Hao-Fang Chuang, soprano; Ying-Ming Huang, cello; Feng-Hsu Lee, piano

苦惱與自由的平均律

2001年9月11日台北的夜晚,我從車上的廣播聽見了美國世貿雙子星大樓倒塌的消息,從電視新聞中看見了兩架飛機應聲撞裂在兩棟巨大的建築物上,漫天的荒煙遍佈了整個空氣,人們驚慌失措,四處竄逃,而碎片瓦礫卻一瞬間吞噬了許多生命,像是塵土一般,風一揚起,又歸於無有,有如殘簡一般,火一燃起全化為灰燼。見到此情此景,萌起我譜曲的念頭,但面對這樣的悲劇,才發覺人的渺小,生命的短暫。

那年十月,我正計畫進行一個新作品,一直在思考這個問題,學作曲的我能為這事件做些什麼事情呢?覺得學作曲的有一種職務,可以使用音符去安慰過世與在世的人,音樂它具有溝通力與傳達力,它可以表達當下的情意,也可以撫慰人心。於是我以大型管絃樂團的編制,創作了為這事件譜了一個單樂章作品《灰燼中的犧牲者》(The Victims in the Crash for Orchestra, 2002)。由於當時我也遭遇到一些創作上的瓶頸,所以早從2001年10月起草,遲遲到2002年5月全曲才告完成。

早在創作《灰燼中的犧牲者》之前,我就在網路上讀到詩人陳黎尚未集結出版的的新詩《中秋逐詩》。起初看到這麼長大的敘事詩,不太有把握以此詩譜曲,直到寫完《灰燼中的犧牲者》之後,開始對此詩有更深的體會,音樂的感覺也逐漸從心裡產生出來,才決定以此詩譜曲。

由於大型管絃樂團編制的曲子,演出實屬不易,於是我採用了容易演出的小型編制(高音人聲、大提琴與鋼琴),也植入了《灰燼中的犧牲者》此曲中的一些動機與想法,尤其是這兩個曲子的特徵均為五度疊置和聲為基礎,像似個姊妹作一般,有相輔相成與互補的作用。

在此感謝詩人陳黎慷慨應允我使用他的詩譜曲。

– Feng-Hsu Lee (June 1, 2003 Taipei ,Taiwan)

〈中秋逐詩〉陳黎
選自《苦惱與自由的平均律》

過了中元節,送走兩颱風
天氣漸涼。忽然覺得欠自己
或別人一首詩
一首秋天的詩

也許欠鄉下轉來的那位布農族學生
我考他農曆二十四節氣
小暑後是大暑
寒露後是霜降
他喜歡吃麥當勞的東西
有時買二十元的小薯
有時買十塊錢的霜淇淋
他知道巴可那安月一到,族人們會釀酒
作木鍬,舉行開墾祭儀
就在現在,他吃著中秋月餅的這個月份

也許欠多年未見的遠方的友人
恐怖分子劫機撞毀紐約最高的雙塔
他住在塔影曾經印過的哈德遜河畔
如今再沒有塔影,卻活在更大的陰影
數日,數夜,不能安眠
我收到別人轉來的一封據稱是劫機者的遺書
說貼著「正義」標籤的美國炸彈炸死了他的
父母,在阿拉伯
許多難民死去,當「神佑美國」的歌聲在偉大
美國人口中響起。在強權與弱勢,信仰與正義的

雙塔陰影間,我同樣不能安眠。不能安眠,一如
一首積欠自己多年,一直沒有寫出來的
秋天的詩。是秋天
當無人知的九月颱,用高過人腦的積水
把遺忘在閣樓、地下室以及記憶深處的
事物淹漬,泡爛,並且浮向大街
當無常的恐懼讓你珍惜令你叫絕的
蘆中遠望。當夏夜的星空在她眼裡
流佈芬芳,而愛情在她頭上矜持著
黑色的喧囂

美麗的恐怖分子。我們都是

在水中撈月,在影印又影印
過的紙上畫餅充飢
一個永遠吃不完的巨大月餅
一個圓而空的神話
永遠欠自己或別人
一首詩,一首像吳剛所伐的桂樹,受創
隨合,永遠寫不完,逐不盡的
空白的詩

註︰
巴可那安月(Paqonan),布農族丹社群舉行開墾祭儀的時節,約在西曆九月。雙塔,紐約世貿中心高110層兩棟大樓之通稱,2001年9月11日,因兩架被劫持的波音客機之撞擊而焚毀。

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