Leading up to the concert on April 24th at the Center for New Music we will be talking to our composers and performers to get an idea of how their brains work and releasing one or two per day leading up to the show.
Per usual, the composers will initially be anonymous, but you are welcome to read this (spoilers!) and give yourself a competitive advantage in guessing before the official announcement!
Introducing composer Jon Yu:
Who are you? How did you get here?
I’m Jon Yu. I got into music by playing guitar in punk bands throughout high school and started studying it formally during my junior year of college. The last couple of years have been an interesting, and on-going, process of reconciling my rock music roots and my current composerly pursuits. Because of that, I think a lot of my concert music has a strong presence of the former. One thing that I’ve found interesting and endearing about the new music community is that it’s very similar to the DIY punk rock community that I grew up around. People engage with one another on a personal level and take it upon themselves to get things done. I think the communal and collaborative nature of this process is one of the major things that drives me to write music.
What drew you to this project?
I love what GCG is doing. It brings performers and composers together in mutually beneficial ways. And it’s a luxury to be able to work closely with an ensemble as great as Jarring Sounds and write music for them. They even gave us a mini performance during the workshop so that we could see their dynamic as a duo. How great is that?
What’s your poem?
I chose a poem by James Joyce called “Nightpiece.” The thing that appealed to me about this poem is its relationship with the original source of inspiration: Joyce had visited the Nortre Dame cathedral of Paris in 1903. Later on, he had a dream about this experience which he recorded in his journal. And years later, in 1915, he wrote this poem based on the journal entry. So the original experience had gone through three layers of abstraction (i.e. a dream about an experience, the recollection of the dream, and a poem based on the recollection). I decided to add another layer to the mix by setting the poem to music. And the composition itself has a fractured and dissociative quality that is inspired by both the content of the poem and its genesis.