Dr. Chinary Ung, Composer ---- 2024 Keynote Speaker
Chinary Ung is often associated with that group of Asian-born composers whose music incorporates aspects of eastern musical characteristics into a western classical music setting. Aside from specific cultural and generational distinctions, the principal difference between Ung's work and theirs is that for many years he was prevented from engaging directly with the source of his cultural heritage as his native country was being torn apart by the scourge of the Khmer Rouge. Indeed, as the people and culture of Cambodia were being systematically destroyed, Ung took it upon himself to rescue some facet of the traditional music he had known as a child, reconstituting Cambodian musical traditions through his performances on the roneat-ek -- the Cambodian xylophone. This project reflects the qualities of responsibility and of hopefulness that are so strongly a part of Ung's personality.
Ung's Cambodian roots are woven into the fabric of his identity, but the musical aspects are, as a result of his peculiar circumstance, keenly related to memory. For many years -- through the late 1980's -- Ung's music had a plaintive character in its modally-inflected, melodic behaviors, as if he were reaching back to another time uncorrupted by political tumult. Ung's work of this period established him as a major figure in American music, winning citations from virtually every major musical arts institution in his adopted country. He was the first American composer to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award, for Inner Voices. That work, along with the Spirals series indicates a self-referential artistic project where one seeks spiritual strength and inspiration through meditation and quiet contemplation, traits of Buddhist spiritual exercises. The Spirals series in particular shows an affinity for the connection between pieces.
The creative impetus draws from many sources -- such as dreams -- and there is a distinct pictorial and spiritual basis to Ung's music. Aura, a large work for two sopranos and chamber ensemble written in 2005, refers to the multicolored aura surrounding the Buddha's head. The work's extensive amplification draws the listener into the performance space, as if invited into the healing light of the Buddha. Rain of Tears, a concerto for chamber orchestra composed in 2006, commemorates the victims of natural disasters in Bandeh Aceh and New Orleans. Its many variants on rising and falling figures present a staggering interpretation of wave imagery. In this work, Ung invokes the Buddhist concept of Shunyata, which he describes as spiritual openness, in order to inspire four distinct statements of compassion.
Ung's extensive orchestral catalog has been commissioned and performed by major orchestras throughout the United States and abroad, including those in Philadelphia, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Tokyo, Sydney, Basel, as well as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the American Composers Orchestra. Boston Modern Orchestra Project released a recording of Ung's orchestral music in 2015. Ung's work has been commissioned by the Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ford, Koussevitsky, Joyce, and Barlow Foundations. In 2014 he was given the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award by the New York-based Asian Cultural Council.
Ung recently participated in the Pacific Rim Festival at University of California Santa Cruz, where his work entitled Singing Inside Aura III, for Amplified Singing Violist and Korean Traditional Orchestra, received performances at both UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. This piece, commissioned by the Gugak Center, is projected to receive another performance in Seoul, Korea, December 2017. Additionally, the National Endowment of the Arts has extended support for the forthcoming Therigatha Inside Aura, dedicated to the peacemakers of tomorrow. This spring, Chapman University will present a Chinary Ung Portrait Concert at the new Musco Center for the Arts, and he begins his residence at Scripps College in March 2018, where Therigatha Inside Aura will be performed and recorded.
By any measure, Chinary Ung is an astonishingly prolific composer, yet his focus is rarely turned inward. Indeed, one notes in his activities as a cultural leader and educator a profound sense of responsibility to a broader cultural and societal context. In the years since the holocaust Ung has worked with numerous institutions and individuals who share his dedication toward preserving Cambodian culture and forging cultural exchanges between Asia and the West, such as The Asian Cultural Council. He was President of the Khmer Studies Institute in the U.S.A. between 1980-1985, and was an advisor for the Killing Fields Memorial and Cambodian Heritage Museum of Chicago and a member of the Cambodian-Thai cultural committee.
As an educator, Ung has taught courses in Southeast Asian music and he has instructed generations of young composers at several institutions in the United States, and now, through a series of residencies, in Asia as well. In this regard he follows the example of his mentor, Chou Wen-chung. He holds appointments at University of California, San Diego, where he is Distinguished Professor of Music, and at Chapman University, where he is a Presidential Fellow and Senior Composer in Residence. For the 2017-2018 academic year he is the Karel Husa Visiting Professor in Composition at Ithaca College. He and his wife Susan direct the Nirmita Composers Institute each summer, with the goal of providing compositional direction and opportunity to musicians from Southeast Asia.
His music is featured on recordings released on Bridge, CAMBRIA, CRI, New World, Argo, and oodiscs, among others. Chinary Ung's compositions are published exclusively by C.F. Peters Corporation and they are registered under BMI.
(Bio by UCSD)
Dr. Leilehua Lanzilotti, Composer ---- 2024 Commissioned Composer
Leilehua Lanzilotti (b. 1983) is a Kanaka Maoli composer / sound artist. A "leading composer-performer" (New York Times), Lanzilotti’s work is characterized by expansive explorations of timbre. Lanzilotti’s practice explores radical indigenous contemporaneity, integrating community engagement into the heart of projects. By world-building through multimedia installation works and nontraditional concert experiences/musical interventions, Lanzilotti’s works activate imagination around new paths forward in language sovereignty, water sovereignty, land stewardship, and respect. Uplifting others by crafting projects that support both local communities and economy, the work inspires hope to continue.
Lanzilotti was honored to be a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Music for with eyes the color of time (string orchestra), which the Pulitzer committee called, “a vibrant composition . . . that distinctly combines experimental string textures and episodes of melting lyricism.”
As a 2023 SHIFT – Transformative Change and Indigenous Arts Awardee, Lanzilotti is partnering with Te Ao Mana to provide free hula, language, and cultural workshops, creating space to come together as a community in the week leading up to their new opera project, Liliʻu. These workshops are not just to create space to learn, but more to create space to come together through language and culture, and to celebrate the diaspora.
Previous honors include a 2023 MacGeorge Fellowship at the University of Melbourne, 2021 McKnight Visiting Composer with the American Composers Forum, a MAP Fund grant for [Switch~ Ensemble] for development and performance of hānau ka ua, a National Performance Network Creation & Development Fund grant for ahupuaʻa, a Native Launchpad Artist Award, an OPERA America: Discovery Grant, the New World Symphony BLUE (Build, Learn, Understand and Experiment) Alumni Award, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, an Empowering ʻŌiwi Leadership Award (E OLA), and a First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership Fellow among other accolades.
As a composer, Lanzilotti’s works have been performed at international festivals such as Ars Electronica (Austria), Thailand International Composition Festival, and Dots+Loops—Australia's post-genre music and arts series. Lanzilotti has written new works for ensembles such as Roomful of Teeth, Argus Quartet, ETHEL (with guest Allison Logins-Hull), [Switch~ Ensemble], and the Borderlands Ensemble. Additionally, Lanzilotti is part of the network of musicians / artists in the Wandelweiser collective.
Lanzilotti has collaborated with The Noguchi Museum on several commissions, writing compositions honoring Noguchi sculptures in conjunction with installations. Most recently, the work beyond the accident of time (2019), for percussion and voices, honors Noguchi’s never-fully-realized Bell Tower for Hiroshima (1951). A text version of this score is included in Walking From Scores, a bilingual anthology of text and graphic scores to be used while walking, from Fluxus to the critical works of current artists, through the tradition of experimental music and performance. “Lanzilotti’s score brings us together across the world in remembrance, through the commitment of shared sonic gestures.” (Cities & Health) A new project in collaboration with The Noguchi Museum and the Toshiko Takaezu Foundation will include a concert program of new works and interactive installation piece for an upcoming national tour.
As a recording artist, Lanzilotti has played on albums from Björk's Vulnicura Live and Joan Osborne's Love and Hate, to David Lang’s anatomy theater. Lanzilotti has premiered many new works including Wayfinder—a viola concerto by Dai Fujikura inspired by Polynesian wayfinding. in manus tuas—Lanzilotti’s solo viola album debut—was featured in Steve Smith’s Log Journal Playlist (Live life out Loud), Bandcamp’s Best Contemporary Classical Albums of 2019, and The Boston Globe’s Top 10 classical albums of 2019, and was called “an entrancing new album” by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross.
To reach new audiences and share contemporary music, Lanzilotti has published articles in Music & Literature and Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, and written program notes for the London Symphony Orchestra and liner notes for Kaija Saariaho / Jennifer Koh among others. Lanzilotti's dissertation is an analysis of Andrew Norman’s The Companion Guide to Rome showing the influence of architecture and visual art on the work. As an extension of the research, Lanzilotti created Shaken Not Stuttered, a free online resource demonstrating extended techniques for strings. Upcoming written publications include contributions to a new monograph honoring the life and work of Toshiko Takaezu to be published by Yale University Press, and to Tuning Calder’s Clouds, edited by Vic Brooks and Jennifer Burris, which will be published in fall 2022 in a collaboration between the Calder Foundation and Athénée Press. It is the first book to explore the artistic, technological, and political intersections of Alexander Calder’s sculptural Acoustic Ceiling.
As an educator, Lanzilotti has been on the faculty at New York University, University of Northern Colorado (Director and founder of the experimental UNCOmmon Ensemble and Asst. Professor of Viola), Casalmaggiore International Music Festival, and University of Hawaiʻi—Mānoa in both composition and viola.
Dr. Lanzilotti studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Yale School of Music, and Manhattan School of Music. In addition, Lanzilotti was an orchestral fellow in the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and New World Symphony, participated in the Lucerne Festival Academy under Pierre Boulez, and was the original violist in the Lucerne Festival Alumni Ensemble. Mentors include Hiroko Primrose, Peter Slowik, Jesse Levine, Martin Bresnick, Wilfried Strehle, Karen Ritscher, and Reiko Füting.
Texu Kim (b.1980) is “one of the most active and visible composers of his generation” (San Francisco Classical Voice), writing music that’s fun, sophisticated, and culturally connected. Drawing on his personal affinity for humor, his background in science, and his fascination with everyday experiences, Kim’s work radiates positivity, offering “major-league cuteness” (Broadway World) while demonstrating “surprising scope.” (San Diego Story) As a Korean-American, Kim explores the localization of imported traditions, incorporating cross-cultural elements into his work in “impressive and special” ways so that “many orchestras and conductors around the world are taking an interest in [his] music.” (KPBS) By highlighting the interaction between folk culture and external influences, Kim creates meaningful depth while maintaining a signature playfulness and exuberance that is listener-friendly and engaging. Characterized by “exuberant, colorful washes of sound… punchy bass lines, snappy brass fanfares, and suave... solos” (San Diego Story), Kim’s music is at times “explosively virtuosic” (Wall Street Journal) but always uplifting and rewarding for both listeners and performers.
Kim’s work has enjoyed an impressive international performance history from a roster of top orchestras and ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the Oakland Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Korea, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Reconsil Vienna, New York Classical Players, Ensemble 212, AsianArt Ensemble Berlin, Ensemble Mise-en, Fear No Music, San Diego New Music, Ensemble TIMF, Northwestern University New Music Ensemble, Indiana University New Music Ensemble, Cardinal Singers, NOTUS, C4: Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, Red Clay Saxophone Quartet, the Verona Quartet, and more. Having served as the Composer-in-Residence of the Korean Symphony Orchestra, Kim has appeared at Yeowoorak Festival, Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, PyeongChang Music Festival and School, Bruckner Festival, SONiC Festival, Mizzou International Composers Festival, June in Buffalo, Aspen Music Festival, SCI National Conferences, Composers Conference, and Oregon Bach Festival. The Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and the Piece & Piano Festival featured Kim’s balanced and well-crafted arrangements, which may also be heard on numerous commercial albums. A frequent collaborator with choreographers, filmmakers, and educators, Kim has received awards and honors from the Barlow Prize, American Modern Ensemble, Copland House, SCI/ASCAP, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and Isang Yun International Composition Prize, to name a few, in addition to winning a Silver Medal in the 1998 International Chemistry Olympiad (Melbourne, Australia).
Kim’s recent/upcoming projects include the world premieres of Ritus Sanitatem by the Verona Quartet in 2023, co-commissioned by Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas at Austin and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art in honor of its 2023 centennial ; the performance of Zzan!! by the San Diego Symphony (also a part of the California Festival) in November 2023; Līlā commissioned by the Barlow Endowment being premiered by (Carnegie Hall presented in March 2024), the London Sinfonietta, the Oakland Symphony, and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and a concerto for four violinists and string ensemble to be premiered by the Sejong Soloists in May 2024 (also at Carnegie Hall).
An associate professor of music at San Diego State University, Kim formerly taught at Syracuse University, Portland State University, and Lewis & Clark College. Kim was also the Artist-of-the-Year of the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra and the director of the Korean Symphony Orchestra’s Composers’ Atelier program, educating and commissioning up-and-coming composers; he has also served as co-director of Ensemble 212’s ‘New Music for Young Audience’ series, and acted as a curator and board member for the Korean Cultural Society of Boston’s ‘New Music Symposium.’ Having earned his D.M. from Indiana University and prior degrees from Seoul National University, Kim’s greatest mentors include Unsuk Chin, David Dzubay, Sven-David Sandstrom, Claude Baker, and Sangjick Jun.
(Bio by Aligned Artistry)