Image Credit: Ucchin Chang (1917-1990)

 
Dawn Chorus (2020–2021)
for Brass Quintet
I. Spark of Divinity
II. Where your gentle wings hover…

Axiom Brass
Michael Hawes, Trumpet in C
Dorival Puccini, Jr., Trumpet in C
Matthew Bronstein, Horn in F (F part of the full double horn tuned a sixth tone lower)
Corey Sansolo, Trombone
Kevin Harrison, Tuba

Recording Session, the Center for Contemporary Composition at the University of Chicago
Christopher Willis, Sound Design
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago, IL
May 23, 2021



Duration: ca. 10 minutes

Image Credit: Ucchin Chang (1917-1990), Trees and birds, 1978, Colored pencils, markers on paper

Program notes
     The title, Dawn Chorus, is drawn from the electromagnetic phenomenon of the same name, caused by electron wave-particle interactions in the air in the early morning. The acoustic result of this phenomenon, is very similar to the natural dawn chorus–the dazzling chirpings of all kinds of birds singing together in front of the rising sun. As Messiaen pointed out, birds sing most joyously at dawn or dusk, enjoying the moment when the colors of world become most vivid, resonating with the rising or dying light.

     2020 was a very arduous year for humankind and also a crisis of humankind. Beside the quarantines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been wildfires of unprecedented scale in North and South America, refugee crises caused in some part by global warming, mega-level tropical cyclones in East Asia, and the highest recorded temperature in Siberia area, etc. This global level crisis induced billions of individual sufferings, including my own health and those close to me.

    Rather than expressing the grief of these anguishes and agonies, I wanted to write a piece which celebrates our awakenings. There was a Beethoven’s 250th birthday, and I adapted the (movement) titles from his 9th Symphony. Beethoven eagerly wanted the enlightenment of man, both politically (Symphony 3) and spiritually (Missa Solemnis), and 9 was the pinnacle.

    It is time for us to see the world with another enlightenment, to see through nature's eyes, as interconnected beings. While Schiller’s text has been interpreted as a higher (wo)men’s language, I want to reinterpret it as an inner creature’s voice, “An den Brüsten der Natur–At nature’s breast.” Therefore, the harmonies and melodies I deploy in this piece are not in equal-temperament system, but derived from natural overtones.

     This is the time that we need to celebrate, sing, and prepare the earth’s new dawn. As you can expect, it can be either apocalyptic, or a turning point toward the age of full of rose colored “kisses and wine.”