A Farewell Song

A Farewell Song (2014)
for Trombone, Percussion and Piano

Commissioned by Performance 20/20 of the Hartt School

Instrumentation of Percussion:
Vibraphone, 5 Roto-Toms (Bb, eb, ab, bb, e1), 4 Nipple Gongs (eb, ab, a, b), Rainstick, Glass Wind Chimes, Glass Bottle.

World Premiere:
March 30, 2014
Performance 20/20 Prism Concert
Berkman Recital Hall, The Hartt School, West Hartford, CT
Matthew Russo, trombone; Jianpeng Feng, percussion; Shuangning Liu, piano

Duration: 8 minutes

Program Notes

Song of Wei Town (Farewell to Yuan Er on His Mission to Anxi) is a Chinese Tang poem by Wang Wei (701-761):
The morning rains cleanse light dusts off Wei town;
The inn and green willows put on fresh gown.
Of wine, won’t you drink one last cup with me?
West beyond Yang Pass, no old friends you’ll see!
(Translated by Frank Yue)

A Farewell Song for trombone, percussion and piano is a commissioned work of Performance 20/20 of the Hartt School, and it is mainly inspired by the poem Song of Wei Town. Attempting to capture the poetic atmosphere, I first draw on several images from the poem, such as the morning rain of an early spring, the sound of waving leaves, blowing winds, and so on. Then the poem turns to portray a scene of valediction. From the depiction of the external world to the fond bidding of farewell to good friends, this piece changes as I emphasize more the feelings of friends who bid each other farewell.

In general, A Farewell Song is a through-composed form that a poem structure can be transcribed into a musical form. While music might vary greatly from the beginning to the very end, I put an ostinato throughout the whole piece to grant it a unified and consistent organization. Furthermore, I use some percussion instruments to symbolize some scenes and feelings presented in the poem. For example, drumming of roto toms represents a drinking scene where people get drunk, and the sound of nipple gongs depicts the emotion of those who say goodbye to their dear friends. With this valedictory sentiment and the fond memory of the familiar place and people, this piece is presented as my fond bidding of farewell to my dear friends.

為長號、打擊與鋼琴的《渭城曲》是美國哈特音樂院Performance 20/20的委託創作,這首曲子靈感也來自唐朝詩人王維的同名詩作《渭城曲》(送元二使安西):
「渭城朝雨浥輕塵,客舍青青柳色新。勸君更盡一杯酒,西出陽關無故人。」

試圖去捕捉詩意的氛圍,我嘗試著用音樂來描繪著詩中的意象,如初春的朝雨、隨風搖曳的樹葉聲音,等等。然後詩作轉而敘述與朋友告別的場景,曲子也跟隨著轉而描繪著與朋友離別的情緒。

《渭城曲》使用著通作曲式讓詩作原本的結構轉化成樂曲的形式。當音樂從頭到尾都可能截然不同,我在全曲置放入一個不變的頑固低音,讓整個曲子有著統一與一致感。再者,我用了打擊樂器象徵了一些詩作的畫面,例如擊鼓的樂段代表了醉酒的場景,鑼聲代表了與朋友再見的感傷。多愁善感的再會畫面有如收入回憶裡的那些曾經熟悉的人事物,曲中發散著濃濃又淡淡地與好友互道珍重的情感。

– Feng-Hsu Lee (Chinese New Year’s Eve, January 30, 2014 West Hartford, CT)

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