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PT @ La Jolla SummerFest 2003
East Meets West
Wu Man plays the pipa The theme of La Jolla SummerFest 2003 explores the cross-cultural currents that have blown between the Western and Eastern worlds for more than a century. Fred Child joins Artistic Director and violinist Cho-Liang lin, pianist Aleck Karis, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, and Cambodian-American composer Chinary Ung, on stage at the Bishop's School in La Jolla.

La Jolla SummerFest photos ©2003 Ken Jacques Photography
Pianist Aleck Karis & violinist Cho-Liang Lin
Pianist Aleck Karis and violinist Cho-Liang "Jimmy" Lin
Violinist Cho-Liang Lin and host Fred Child
Jimmy Lin and Fred Child
Performance of Philip Glass's 'Suite from the Sound of a Voice'
Performance of Glass's Suite from The Sound of a Voice
Pipa virtuoso Wu Man
Pipa virtuoso Wu Man
Composer Chinary Ung and host Fred Child
Composer Chinary Ung and host Fred Child
Cellist Felix Fan
Cellist Felix Fan

audio iconListen to Part 1 (22:31)

CLAUDE DEBUSSY: "The Moon that Shines on the Temple" from Images, Book II
Aleck Karis, piano -- bio

CLAUDE DEBUSSY: Sonata for violin and piano, Mvt 1. Allegro vivo
Cho-Liang lin, violin -- bio
Aleck Karis, piano

CHINESE TRADITIONAL: "Little Bright Moon" (Xiao Yue Er Gao)
Wu Man, pipa -- bio
Note supplied by Wu Man:
This work is a popular short tune for pipa from the Shanghai area (Cong Ming Island), which is not far from my hometown, Hang Zhou. It was written toward the end of the 19th century, though the tune itself is very much older.

audio iconListen to Part 2 (23:54)

PHILIP GLASS: Suite from The Sound of a Voice (excerpt)
Cho-Liang Lin, violin
Felix Fan, cello -- bio
Marisela Sager, flute -- bio
Wu Man, pipa
Steven Schick, percussion
-- bio
The composer supplied the following program note:
The Sound of a Voice was originally composed as an opera, based on a play by David Henry Hwang, and premiered at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in June 2003.

The instrumental ensemble for that production consisted of flute (doubling on piccolo and bamboo flute), pipa, cello, and percussion. I had met Wu Man several years ago and her virtuoso performance on the pipa had captivated me. I had been meaning to write music for her for some time and David's play, with its strong Asian influence, seemed like an opportunity made to order for this purpose.

This short concert suite is an adaptation from five scenes of the opera. The violin part was added to fill in some of the vocal material (which otherwise is not present in this instrumental version) as well as to give a more satisfying balance to the present arrangement.

CHINARY UNG: Music from Spiral for Cello, Piano, and Percussion: opening section
Felix Fan, cello
Aleck Karis, piano
Steve Shick, percussion
Susan Ung supplied the following note for Spiral:
Spiral was composed during the summer of 1987 through a commission from the Massachusetts Council on the Arts for the Aequalis Ensemble, a new group composed of a cellist, a pianist and a percussionist. Because of the unusual combination of instruments, one of the ideas for the work was to explore new and unusual timbral relationships. Aequalis subsequently recorded it, and performed it more than 300 times, all over the U.S., to many enthusiastic audiences. It has since been played many more times all over the world. Spiral is also featured in the Norton Recordings and the Norton Scores (copyright 1999, "The Enjoyment of Music, edited by Kristine Forney, 8th edition), a teaching guide for music teachers and students across the country.

When questioned about how he would describe the style of this work, Chinary Ung has described it as a kind of "eastern romanticism." Perhaps more realistically, part of its appeal has been its "universal" romanticism. Ung has said: "When coaching cellists on this piece, I tell them to play it in the style of 19th century western music.romanticism in the sense most of us are accustomed to." He believes that there is not much difference between the romanticism of the East, and that of the West, when it comes to executing the music, even though an audience member might find in Spiral the fusion of sound worlds derived from both Eastern and Western cultures.


Spiral was the first of about eight of Ung's works, both chamber music and orchestral, which uses "spiraling" as an invented compositional tool. It is not only a device to generate melodic lines, but is also largely responsible for creating the formal structure of the piece. At a local level, a certain set of notes can be recalled in succession to form ever-newer phrases, extending the length of the passage. He also recalls certain passages in an alternating fashion on a larger scale, affecting the formal structure of the work. He felt at that time that these concepts had the power to set him free from any musical conventions, and put him on a kind of liberating, spiritual path.