Tell us more about the work that you're doing for the concert.
As a composer, when one is given a piece of poetry to set, then that
is a different kind of a process than when one simply writes a piece
of instrumental music. If you're writing instrumental music, then
you make all the decisions about how long the piece should be, what
the form of the piece should be - with a beginning, a middle, an end,
etc. When you're setting a poem, every poem has its own rhythm; it
has its own structure. You have to, as a composer, respect that rhythm
and that structure, and determine what your role will be in terms
of creating music. So, I've taken this poetry and tried to find the
essence of what it's about, which seemed to be about love and longing
and commitment, and trying to reflect that somehow in the music. We'll
see if it worked!
You want to share any of the poem?
Sure! It's organized in a quadrangle, a group of four lines, so I
organized my music in this sort of four-line group. For example, a
recurring theme in the poem is the three-word line, "How many
miles?" And this recurs several times. The first time is in the
second quadrangle where the poem reads:
I have actually taken those three words and made that sort of the
theme of the song. That is a recurring motif, and I have that music
entered at the beginning, returned in the middle, and returned at
the end just sort of to round it out. In the final moments of the
song, that actually appears purely musically without the words, and
then the singer comes back in for a final time to close it out. The
theme is of longing, of wishing to know how long it will be before
one is reunited with one's loved one.
Tell us also about conducting Fred Karlin's, "The Peace Seeker."
That's right! Ah, this is going to be quite a large and challenging
work to organize. We have a 60-piece orchestra, and sort of in the
middle of that 60-piece orchestra, we'll have a folk rock group of
four instruments. Now, that in itself, is two different worlds that
are being put together in a way that one doesn't normally find. Usually
one thinks of a rock group and an orchestra as completely different
entities. But in fact, they'll be there as two of the large elements.
Then we'll have a Boys choir, the Pasadena Boys choir, which is another
element. And of course, you're dealing with children's voices, which
is something that is a fairly unique kind of sound.
Karlin, who is also a world-class jazz trumpet player and flugelhorn
player, has written himself some spot to play, which is why he didn't
want to conduct - can't conduct and play at the same time. And then,
we have a female vocalist to accompany the folk rock group, and also
three actors who will do recitation of poetry as well. So, this will
be a big job to coordinate.
And then, you also worked on the introductory video for the Supreme
Master Ching Hai?
That's correct! In this case, it's a seven-and-a-half-minute
documentary highlighting Her various achievements and background.
My job was to compose music that reflected these various aspects of
Her character. It will be quite a mixed bag. I can't think of any
other event where so many different kinds of diverse music will be
together on the stage. I think that it reflects the title of "One
World" very well.
How do you feel working with the Supreme Master Ching Hai International
Well, they're certainly a very dedicated bunch of people (smiling!)
I don't think they sleep very much. I think they mostly work around
the clock. And it's certainly been, I think, a warmer kind of feeling
than you get from just working for your average client. It's been