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.

(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



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。




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









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