Exploring Mixed Ensembles Series #17

John Oliver: Monkey Running (world premiere)

Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra / Chih-Sheng Chen / National Recital Hall, Taipei, Taiwan 2014.11.18.

Welcome to the year of the monkey. Monkey Running is a fun energetic piece full of mischief. Three monkeys visit the music: a slow big monkey, a smaller monkey who likes to sing, and the tiny spider monkey who squeaks. Monkeys crave fun, activity and stimulation, and they like to show off.

This inter-cultural work for Chinese ensemble with guitar, bass, and drum set added, takes the notion of monkeys running in the jungle as the starting point. But these monkeys are citizens of the world! As the music proceeds, they dance a waltz, a tango, a flamenco.

My heartfelt thanks to Mr. Jin Zhang for erhu lessons and for translating the title into Chinese characters, and to Ms. Mei Han for zheng lessons, and to the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble for commissioning and performing the original work in 2004.

In 2014, the artistic director and conductor of the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, Chih-Sheng Chen invited me to Taipei to perform the guitar part of Monkey Running on a concert that also featured the premiere of my work Scenes From an Inter-cultural Marriage, which he commissioned for the occasion. I revised the music, and the premiere of this version took place at the National Recital Hall, Taipei, Taiwan on 2014-11-18.

~ John Oliver