Kye Ryung Park 


Program Notes

 Reminiscences (2008)

consists of a collection, or suite, of five short piano works commissioned by pianist Enrico Elisi, on the occasion of his appointment at Penn State University.  I indulged myself pleasant memories from the time before I came to the United States, during the years when I was growing up in Korea.  Each piece included in Reminiscences captures a revived impression.  Yet, to reminisce is to recall, or suggest something else.  I hope that these sound-memories will inspire the imaginations of performer, and listeners alike to generate personal, vague, and perhaps more vivid impressions of their own.

The opening movement, E..., begins the suite rather peacefully, and revolves around the pitches of E and E flat.  The second and fourth movements Jaeun and Old Memories, respectively, share the same pitch materials, while implying the tonality of D.  Jaeun is a very dear friend of mine who lives in my homeland, Korea.  As a young pianist, she distinguished herself for an unusual ability to play rapid, awkward figurations at the piano, a trait that fascinated me as a young woman and that I have tried to recapture in this piece.  I decided to utilize awkward piano figurations, which I later harmonized.  Herein lies the challenge for the performer: to win over the complex piano triplet figures, and, in the end, attain a peaceful, smooth, texture
The third movement, Bari & Bori, is based on minor and major seconds, which depict my special friends.  The Finale does not have a real title.  Rather it closes the entire suite by recalling elements from all of the previous movements.  Its tonal center shifts around C and C#.

I am a fervent believer that composers and performers should have the opportunity to work closely.  (After all, can you imagine what could happen if we were to lock artistic thoughts in a box?)  The collaboration between Elisi and I started in 2007, when he premiered a chamber work of mine at the Nevada Encounters of New Music.  At that time we spent much time rehearsing and discussing the music.  We have continued this mutually enriching dialogue right down to the present.

Erneuerung for Violoncello and Piano (2007)

Erneuerung means “renewal” or “renewed” in German.  The title expresses my inner conflicts about who I am as a composer.  Having been raised on Western classical music in Korea

The sound of Korean music has profoundly inspired my musical language and the structural ideas since I moved to Los Angeles.  It is easy to find Korean allusions in this piece.  However, Erneuerung blends my different approaches to music by incorporating the various melodic materials into the harmonic ones which do not exist in Korean traditional music.

The first two movements resemble Korean court music flowing constantly without established melodies or harmonies.  The cello illustrates many vibratos, sliding tones, and microtones as expressing a feeling of stasis.  However, these gestures and moods are interrupted by several melodies.  The first melodic figure of the piano is borrowed from a famous Korean children’s song.  This Korean melody is used throughout the whole piece.  The third movement accelerates and finishes the piece excitingly.  The piano opens the movement with a syncopated Korean rhythmic pattern along with the memorable cello part. 

Arirang for Soprano, Flute, and Piano (2005)

is the most famous Korean folk song while there are several passes in Korea called "Arirang Pass."  It appeared as the theme song of the 1926 movie Arirang, Korea’s first feature film.  This song became the Korean resistance anthem during the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea.

My piece is based on four different types of Arirang: Gyeonggi , Jeongseon, Jindo, and Sam Arirang from four regions.  The text follows these Arirang lyrics.  I expanded the refrain “Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo” from Gyeonggi Arirang and “Ari arirang, seuri seurirang” from Jindo Arirang.  "Arariyo" and "seurirang" are both meaningless words which are simply plays on "Arirang."

L’Horloge for Soprano, Clarinet, and Piano (2004) 
Text by Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) from Les Fleurs du mal [1857, The Flowers of Evil]

Baudelaire evokes the obsession with time in this poem.  He expresses this idea in a symbolic form through the meaning of words as well as in their sound by setting up a 6 syllable rhythm.  He intentionally sets up the 6 stanzas consisting of 4 lines, which implies 24 hours.  Baudelaire also metamorphoses the dark aspect of human emotions by warning a man who wastes his life and runs to death.  Inspired by his personal conflict between the ideal and the sensual, my music follows the cluster of images from the poem.  Consequently the discord between the beautiful tonal melodies represented by soprano and the wild clarinet and corrupted piano becomes inseparable.

Ohne Grenzen for Solo Flute (2002)

Ohne Grenzen consists of four movements.  The title means “no limit” or “no boundary”, which implies a Korean concept that music exists like water, freely flowing in nature.  This gesture gradually expands throughout the piece.  The music begins slowly with a feeling of stasis and accelerates as each movement proceeds.  More Korean allusions are appeared by sliding tones, microtones, and subtle vibrations.

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