Exploring Mixed Ensembles Series #4

Owen Underhill: Homecoming Ode
Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, Turning Point Ensemble / Owen Underhill / National Recital Hall, Taipei, Taiwan. 2018.6.9.

Homecoming Ode/ Gui Qu Lai Ci is a new composition written for two members of Turning Point Ensemble – bassoon (Ingrid Chiang), harp (Janelle Nadeau), and two members of Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra – pipa (Ying-Chun Chen) and sheng (Wan-Yu Chang). The combination of two wind instruments and two plucked instruments appealed to me as an opportunity for both blending and contrast.

This work is part of a series of pieces I am composing that include Chinese traditional instruments and are based on historical Chinese calligraphy. In this case, this piece alludes to The Homecoming Ode scroll which was created by Shen Du in the Ming Dynasty. This work is in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. The calligraphy is both bold and delicate. It refers to a famous earlier poem by Tao Yuanming which tells the story of purposefully rejecting court fame and wealth in order to return to a rustic and simple life in the countryside. The music, both peaceful and active, finally comes to rest at the end, at last a homecoming.
~ Owen Underhill