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