New Li Po Songs

an impression of the  New Li Po Songs for ROSE PETAL JAM

 for voice, Adapted Viola and percussion 

on text by Everett Ruess

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artwork by Everett Ruess

I have been one who loved the wilderness—
Swaggered and softly crept between the mountain peaks
I listened long to the sea’s brave music;
I sang my songs above the shriek of desert winds.

Say that I starved; that I was lost and weary;
That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun;
Footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases;
Lonely and wet and cold … but that I kept my dream!

Lisa Illean – LU
for voice, Adapted Guitar and Adapted Viola
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Christian Smalt – JINGTING

for bass clarinet and alto recorder

Scordatura’s invitation to create a “new Li Po song” came in August 2016, and I quickly selected the poem below for its strong final line.  In December I was fortunate to experience some real sights and sounds of China.  This music carries these impressions.  I dedicate Jingting to Amos Wu and her fellow students at Xinghai Conservatory in Guangzhou.

Alone at mount Jingting  – Li Bai (699-762)

A flock of birds across the horizon
A lone cloud drifting away
We watch each other until
Only the mountain remains__

Christian Smalt – JINGTING

voor basklarinet en altblokfluit

Toen Scordatura ons in augustus 2016 uitnodigde om een “nieuwe Li Po song” te schrijven, viel mijn keuze op onderstaande tekst met zijn sterke slotregel.  In december kreeg ik de kans om zelf de beelden en klanken van China te ervaren.  Mijn indrukken zijn verwerkt in deze muziek.  Ik draag Jingting op aan Amos Wu en haar medestudenten aan het Xinghai Conservatorium in Guangzhou.

Alleen op de berg Jingting  – Li Bai (701-762)

Een vlucht vogels aan de horizon
Een eenzame wolk die doelloos wegdrijft
Wij blijven naar elkaar kijken
Alleen de berg blijft


The poem in Chinese, Calligraphy by Shi Bo

for variable instrumentation and Max App
The text of my poem is a modern-day Amsterdam reflection on the poem Just Before a Thunder Shower written by James Wright, an American poet from the Midwest, who was inspired by the Chinese poet Li Po. James Wright believed that the tenderness for places and living creatures in Chinese poetry could save us from the corruptions in modern day life. I too believe that the sensibilities we practice by taking time to listen and reflect keep us awake and make us wiser.
My poem, inspired by James Wright who was inspired by Li Po:

Just before the rain
Bikes swarm through city streets
beneath the low clouds.
The wind zings around corners, whistling news.
The sky hides its secrets
Before the water spills.
A young woman, her thoughts held
Between her headphones, looks up
and pedals down the street.
Raindrops bounce off her yellow jacket.

Anna Mikhailova – SURUAH SIRAJO
for voice, oboe/basclarinet, alto/tenor flute, viola, objects, vinyl record player

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the cover van Suruah Sirajo door Anna Mikhailova

“The translation of Suruah Sirajo (from the Minang Kabau language in Indonesia) is  ‘give a command to the King’, which I interpreted as ‘mind your steps’, as meaning that THINKING is the king who rules our days and only by commanding to our mind -thinKing- we fall into the future. This song I intended to be as a time machine in a way and the cover represents that the music instruments, playing music, performing sound, and resonating the frequencies, is what makes us think and see different worlds”.

Miranda Driessen – THESE THINGS
for voice,  Adapted Guitar Ib (self invented adaptation), Kithara I, Diamond Marimba, Bass Marimba.

These things that we support most well
have nothing to do with us,
and we do with them
out of boredom or fear or money
or cracked intelligence:
our circle and our candle of light
being small,
so small we cannot bear it,
we heave out with Idea
and lose the Center:
all wax without the wick,
and we see names that once meant wisdom,
like signs into ghost towns,
and only the graves are real.

Charles Bukowski – The days run away like wild horses over the hills (1969)

Samuel Vriezen- A YEAR
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A collection of 360 pieces, one for each day in the year. They may be performed separately.

Bij deze het begin van mijn partituur A Year. Het volledige stuk zal bestaan uit 360 identiek gestructureerde zettingen van een en hetzelfde gedicht van Robert Creeley, en zal zeker twaalf uur duren. Maar je kunt er ook één, of een paar, van doen.

Aart Strootman – Small Talk

Aart built for us a Diamond Marimba, it was finished in March 2018. That was also a good reason to ask him for a New Li Po song for this instrument. It has become a  piece that explores the outside edges of the instrument, the notes travelling up and down, accompagnied by soft whistling sounds and a soft Adapted Guitar.


Amsterdam-based ensemble performing music using new tuning systems and microtonality

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