Choral Work

Leah Stein Dance Company & Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia present

Fairmount Water Works
June 27 & 28, 2015 · 7:30PM

RSVP for Free Tickets

In TURBINE, the audience is immersed with music and movement in an outdoor performance along the water. The project was created for the 200th Anniversary of the Fairmount Water Works—an urban environmental center on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia—and is available for other civic waterways.

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Leah Stein, choreographer
Alan Harler, conductor/music director

Duration: variable (circa one hour)
Commissioned and performed by Leah Stein Dance Company and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, conducted by Alan Harler, choreographed by Leah Stein

Preview Quote
“Site-specific virtuoso choreographer Leah Stein and composer Byron Au Yong create an experience with performers and audience moving throughout the entire site at the Fairmount Water Works.”

Merilyn Jackson, Philadelphia Inquirer

· Fairmount Water Works
· PhillyH2O
· Turbine Residency Notes, October 2014

Special Thanks
Lora Allen, Alan Harler, Hermitage Artist Retreat, Michelle Hollander, Adam Levine (Philadelphia Water Department), Deenah Loeb (City Parks Association), Edward McNally, Leah Stein, Leah Stein Dance Company, Library Company of Philadelphia, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, New Music USA, Rebecca Thornburgh and Family, Schuylkill Banks, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Richard Tolsma, William Penn Foundation, Karen Young (Fairmount Water Works)


2014 was a year of meeting new artists and musicians to create interdisciplinary work. Exhibitions, performances, residencies, plus teaching happened in Blacksburg, Houston, Manasota Keys, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. Additionally, it was great to learn more about future art initiatives by serving on panels in Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Here’s a snapshot of this fulfilling year.

Exhibitions & Performances

Piano Concerto – Houston
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts · University of Houston

In this conceptual piano concerto, composer Byron Au Yong and artist Susie J. Lee gathered 11 Houston-based pianists to share stories during an open rehearsal. The interviews and audio/video recordings informed an installation of solo video portraits and an ensemble audio sculpture. Piano Concerto – (name of host city) is available for museums and other cultural venues.

The Orphan of Zhao (趙氏孤兒)
American Conservatory Theatre · San Francisco
La Jolla Playhouse · San Diego

Carey Perloff directed this classic Chinese play about revenge and sacrifice. Original music included three ensemble numbers, six solos, and musical transitions for the 25 scenes. It was an honor to work with the award-winning cast and creative team.

March Music Moderne IV · Portland

For the 100th anniversary, of Erik Satie’s Sports et Divertissements. composer/curator Bob Priest invited composers to respond to Le Tango Perpétuel. Tangosa, for string trio, is available for future performances. Another trio called Lost Fireflies – for violin, cello, piano – is available for dedication and first performance.

Visit Calendar for a full list of 2014 exhibitions, performances, residencies, service, and teaching.

Upcoming Free Events

January 2015
Frye Art Museum · Seattle
May 2015
Leah Stein Dance Company
Mendelssohn Club · Philadelphia

Become Involved

Mo Sheng 墨声: Ink Sound

Chamber Music/Museum Performance
for string quartet

January 18, 2015
Frye Art Museum presents…
Mò Shēng 墨声: Ink Sound
performed by the Passenger String Quartet

Mò Shēng 墨声: Ink Sound relates the simplicity and density of sound to the amount of ink on a brush. The string quartet plays with a calligraphic impulse, inspired by Pan Gongkai’s Exhibition.

Duration c. 45 minutes
Instrumentation two violins, viola, cello
Commissioned by the Frye Art Museum *

Program Notes
Mò Shēng 墨声: Ink Sound, a newly commissioned work by composer Byron Au Yong (歐陽良仁), will be created and performed on the occasion of the Frye Art Museum’s exhibition Pan Gongkai: Withered Lotus Cast in Iron, on view from October 4, 2014 to January 18, 2015.

A contemporary master of Chinese ink painting and current president of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Pan Gongkai (潘公凯) creates large-scale, site-specific ink paintings without interruption, in sessions that often last more than 12 hours. He views this physically demanding process as a key performative element of his work. This is the first U.S. exhibition of Pan’s art.

As a Chinese American composer based in Seattle, Au Yong has a complex relationship with China. His new music translates Pan’s Exhibition to evoke a local resonance. The music will be premiered by the Passenger String Quartet in the Frye Art Museum galleries.

Musicians use techniques that vary the bowing pressure, similar to the textures of ink density that respond to both Pan’s art as well as the exhibition environment through the shifting spatial placement of the musicians. Au Yong’s notation contains precise musical gestures that can be read in any order by the string quartet, similar to how an ink brush painting can be experienced.

Mò Shēng 墨声: Ink Sound is commissioned by the Frye Art Museum, with additional support from Nanette Fok and Brad Tong.

* Free programs at the Frye Art Museum are made possible by community support. To contribute, please contact Kate Godman by email at KGodman@fryemuseum.org or telephone at (206) 432-8217.

Pan Gongkai: Withered Lotus Cast in Iron at Frye Art Museum
Pan Gongkai: Dispersion and Generation at Zhejiang Art Museum

Trigger Residency

TRIGGER is a choral initiative prompted by the April 16th Tragedy at Virginia Tech, where a Korean-American student shot 32 people, then killed himself. Local university faculty, staff, students, and community leaders perform this full-length musical work. Developmental residencies culminate in performances and events leading up to the 10-year memorial in April 2017.

October 27 to November 9, 2014
Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech

Interviews & Meetings
– Conversation NRV
– Gene Deisinger, deputy chief of police/director of threat management
– Nikki Giovanni, poet/professor
– Jacob Grohs, engineering/education Ph.D candidate
– Holly Lesko, community engagement research faculty
– Students for Non-Violence
– VT Expressions

Events & Performances
– Aspen Sante Fe Ballet
– Basetrack Live
– Bretano String Quartet
– Stories We Carry

Guest Teaching
– Peace and Violence class

The theatrical performance serves as a touchstone for TRIGGER COMMUNITY: thematically-related artistic, scholarly and technology resources in the form of academic panels, digital stories, site-specific events, spoken word slams, street performances, and more developed by local groups in consultation with the creative team. TRIGGER COMMUNITY, considers the word “trigger” as an adjective and verb, as well as noun. Groups are invited to think about belonging and isolation, forgiveness and justice, freedom and safety, along with other themes in relation to education, guns, race, and other topics sparked by TRIGGER. Individuals from campus clubs and civic organizations converse through the creation of art as strategies to prevent public shootings.

Turbine Residency

In May 2015, over 88 singers and nine dancers will perform TURBINE at the Fairmount Water Works in Philadelphia. This large-scale site-responsive choral work is co-commissioned by Leah Stein Dance Company and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia for the 200th anniversary of this historic site. The Water Works was the first urban public water supply system in the United States.

October 12-26, 2014

Meetings & Rehearsals
Fairmount Water Works
– rehearsals with Leah Stein Dance Company
– interpretive center research

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia
– attended Big Sing rehearsal
– noted various placement of singers

TURBINE Round Table
– Byron Au Yong, composer
– Michelle Hollander, water resources engineer
– Adam Levine, consultant, Philadelphia Water Department
– Deenah Loeb, executive director, City Parks Association
– Leah Stein, choreographer
– Karen Young, executive director, Fairmount Water Works

Research & Resources
Visual Culture Program at the Library Company of Philadelphia
– illustrations & photographs of the Water Works
– found article that talked about the necessary “din of industry”
– noted how smokestacks and pastoral scenes co-existed in paintings

Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center
– water treatment, hands-on displays, historic details, ecological action steps
– quotes from Charles Dickens and Frances Trollope

Philadelphia Water Department (Philly H20)
– interviewed author/historical consultant Adam Levine
– learned about newspaper clippings & historic cartoons
– received copies of sheet music inspired by the Water Works from the 1800s

Philadelphia Wastewater Treatment Plant
– visit with Adam Levine and Leah Stein
– gathered wood templates from the 1920s
– saw incoming sewage area
– received Imagining Philadelphia: Travelers’ Views of the City from 1800 to the Present

River Boat Ride (Schuylkill Banks)
– named Pennsylvania’s 2014 River of the Year
– Schuylkill feels more like a canal with concrete sides

– Eiko: A Body in a Station
– Kenny Endo, Kaoru Watanabe, Sō Percussion

Guest Teaching & Site Visit
– Science Leadership Academy
– Sidney Hillman Apartments

Summer 2014

International Festival of Arts & Ideas Residency
Writer Aaron Jafferis and composer Byron Au Yong develop Trigger, a theatrical oratorio about belonging and isolation prompted by the Virginia Tech Tragedy. Along with creating the foundation for this new project, they interact with artists, scholars and performances at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven. Below are two related public events:

June 27 Can Art Mediate Conflict? Yale Center for British Art
June 28 Developing New Work Broadway Lofts

The Orphan of Zhao (趙氏孤兒) U.S. Premiere Production
A classic Chinese play about revenge and sacrifice in a new adaptation by James Fenton, directed by Carey Perloff. The music for this production includes three ensemble numbers + six solos, as well as numerous musical transitions for the 25 scenes. This is a play with music scored for voices, xun, kubing, violin, cello, cymbals, drum, gongs, and water.

June 4-29 American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco
July 8-August 3 La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego

The Orphan of Zhao

The Orphan of Zhao (趙氏孤兒) is a classic Chinese play about revenge and sacrifice. This new English adaptation by journalist and poet James Fenton, receives its U.S. premiere, co-produced by American Conservatory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse.

The music for this production includes three ensemble numbers + six solos, as well as numerous musical transitions for the 25 scenes. This is a play with music scored for voices, xun, kubing, violin, cello, cymbals, drum, gongs, and water.

Upcoming Performances
June 4-29, 2014
American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco

July 8-August 3, 2014
La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego

Creative Team
Carey Perloff (director)
Byron Au Yong (composer)
Stephen Buescher (movement)
Daniel Ostling (scenic design)
Linda Cho (costume design)
Lap Chi Chu (lighting design)
Jake Rodriguez (sound design)

Marie-France Arcilla
Stan Egi
Philip Estrera
Nick Gabriel
Cindy Im
Orville Mendoza
Paolo Montalban
Brian Rivera
Sab Shimono
Julyana Soelistyo
Daisuke Tsuji
BD Wong

Philip Estrera, violin
Jessica Ivry, cello
+ members of the cast

Press Previews
KTSF-TV (Chinese-language video with interviews and rehearsal footage)
Stage and Cinema (historical details about the work)

The Orphan of Zhao

Rehearsals started earlier this week for The Orphan of Zhao (趙氏孤兒). Here’s the sign on our rehearsal room. The ensemble songs are definitely not quiet!

The new production runs at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, from June 4 – 29, 2014, and La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, from July 8 – August 3, 2014. Here’s the trailer…

Opening April 8

photo © Joe Freeman

Media sculptor Susie J. Lee and I work on Piano Concerto – Houston.

In late January, we visited Houston and interviewed pianists. In early March, we gathered & recorded pianists. Now we are in Seattle editing audio & video + building the installation. Piano Concerto – Houston (part of the 11 Pianists Project) was commissioned by the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts for the inaugural CounterCurrent Festival. The exhibition opens April 8.

Visit 11pianists.com for details about the pianists, score, exhibition, & more.