The Distant Mountain

The Distant Mountain (2019)
for High Voice, Cello and Piano

Commissioned by Yu Jung Bae

World Premiere:
September 20, 2019
Ensemble Yeon: “Old and New”
Voxman Music Building Concert Hall, School of Music, University of Iowa, IA, USA
Ensemble Yeon:
Yu Jung Bae, soprano; Yoo-Jung Chang, cello; Minji Kwon, piano
Ensemble Yeon Poster
Duration: 6 minutes

Program Notes

The Distant Mountain for high voice, cello and piano is commissioned by soprano Yu Jung Bae for performing in the Ensemble Yeon concert 2019 at the University of Iowa. As requested, this piece should be inspired by one of Korean folk tunes, and I also set out to look for suitable English lyrics for this song. Eventually, I adopted the very famous tune, Arirang, as motifs and materials, and I found that the poem “The Distant Mountain” from Rainstorm by Chen Li, a Taiwanese poet, might be a good one for this song. “The Distant Mountain” is originally written in Mandarin, and in this piece, I use the English translation version by Chang Fen-Ling, who is the poet’s wife. Both Arirang and The Distant Mountain have an image of hills, so I highlight this connection and try to depict the mountain by the musical lines of ascending and descending pentatonic scales and represent the atmosphere of the chromatic harmony, while giving very lyrical melody to the vocal line. Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Chen Li for his kindly allowing me to compose this piece based on his poem.

“The Distant Mountain” from Rainstorm
Poem by Chen Li and English Translation by Chang Fen-Ling

The distant mountain gets more and more distant.

Once, in the morning of childhood,
with each day’s new-born ideal,
it rose like a morning song on the heart’s flagpole.
It was once the stands in the baseball stadium, a badge on the chest,
the screen of dreams, the piggy bank of tears.

The distant mountain grows up with you, and watches you grow old.

Between the afternoon wind and antennas,
between the human dusk and filth,
behind houses, cars, cords, and knives, all kinds of
regular and irregular non-blocks—
the distant mountain         is talking to the distant mountain.

It tells you the silence that is never spoken.
When you are in love, the distant mountain
comes close again overnight.

為高音人聲、大提琴與鋼琴的《遠山》是受到女高音 Yu Jung Bae 的委託而譜寫,會在美國愛荷華大學 2019年的 Ensemble Yeon 的音樂會中首演。委託的內容是這個曲子的靈感來源必須來自韓國民謠,所以我開始尋找適合的英文歌詞。最後,我決定使用《阿里郎》這個非常著名的旋律做為動機和素材,然後我找到台灣詩人陳黎選自《小丑畢費的戀歌》的詩作〈遠山〉,或許適合使用在這首歌曲中。〈遠山〉原本是使用中文書寫,這裡我使用詩人的妻子張芬齡翻譯的英文版本。在《阿里郎》和《遠山》都有著同樣的山的意象,所以我把這個意象做為曲子中心思想,試著在極度半音的和聲氛圍中使用著上升與下降的五聲音階線條描繪著山的模樣,同時給予人聲非常抒情的旋律。最後在此謝謝陳黎老師總是慷慨應允我使用他的詩譜曲。

〈遠山〉選自《小丑畢費的戀歌》 陳黎

遠山愈來愈遠了

曾經,在童年的早晨
跟著每一天新生的理想
晨歌般升起於心的旗台;
曾經是棒球場的看台,胸口的徽章
曾經是夢的屏風,淚的撲滿

遠山跟著你長大,又看著你老去

在午後的風與天線間
在人間的暮色與污濁裡
在房子,車子,繩子,刀子,種種
規則與不規則的非積木後面——
遠山    向遠山說話

告訴你不曾說出的沈默。
遠山,在你愛的時候
一夜間又近了

– Feng-Hsu Lee (August 29, 2019 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

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