Shiaw-Wen Chuang
Yuji Takahashi (1938)
Hiroko Ito (1960)
Fred Weihan Ho (1959)
Il-Ryun Chung (1964)
Stefan Hakenberg (1960)
Lei Liang (1972)

Saitoh Tetsu
Stone Out
originally for 4 koto, bass, and percussion


Instruments: Composer/School: Title:
koto solo Shinichiro Ikebe (1943) Kohru (Freeze) (1977)
koto solo Sawai Tadao (1937 – 1997) Tori no youni (Like a Bird) (1985)
koto solo Yatsuhashi Kengyo (1614-1685) Midare (17th Century)
kayagûm, changgu Sûng Kûmyôn (1923 - 1986) Kayagûm Sanjo
Sông Kûmyôn School (Korea)
20th century
kayagûm, changgu Ken Ueno (1970) ...where Ginkgo grow in Borromean knots (2005)*
kayagûm, changgu Hwang Byung-Ki (1936) Bidan'gil (Silk Road) (1977)
zheng solo Chiu-Yu Chou Xia Qing (2008)
zheng solo Wang Jianming (1956) Xiyun (Rhyme Play) (1993)
zheng solo Shandong School Si duan qu
(Four short pieces)
zheng solo Kejia School Yaishan ai
(The sorrow of cliff mountain)


Three Zithers and a Pair of Scissors for kayagum, koto, zheng, and changgu (1998)
Composed by Stefan Hakenberg (1960) Germany/Alaska
I. Clang
II. Hum
III. Pep
IV. Hold
V. Concurrent

Commissioned for the opening of the Asia Center, Harvard University 1998

"My montage "Three Zithers and a Pair of Scissors" was commissioned for the inaugural celebration of a new Asia Center at Harvard University. This new center is planned to provide a new institutional frame for intercultural studies on Asian topics. Instead of scholars interacting in the new institute, in my piece musical material originating from China, Japan, and Korea is composed to interact. It is an ad hoc serenade playing with the cultural roots of the performers and listeners. The four high-level performers in 'Three Zithers and a Pair of Scissors' represent the excellence and mastery of the traditions in which they grew up and live. As an ensemble they manifest a vision of the potentials for the development of their respective arts in an international musical setting. Their coming together in this piece exposes their musical heritages - the media of their cultural identities - to interaction with each other. This allows for interesting new nuances of musical expression and reaches into strange new sound worlds that no wo/man has heard or played before.

"When I began thinking of this piece I went to Harvard's Sackler Museum, a museum for Asian art for inspiration. There I found a set of golden statuettes representing five flying Bhotisatvas each playing a different instrument: a pair of cymbals, a lyre, a drum, a flute, and a lute. One Bhotisatva at a time I composed quasi improvisando sounds inspired by these instruments. The musical material for my composition I found in recordings of outstanding interpretations of traditional music by the three zither soloists that played the premiere performance. I picked the koto piece "Midare" composed by Yatsuhashi Kengyo, a kayagum sanjo as recorded by Ji Aeri, and the Chinese traditional melodies and musical themes "Lofty Mountains Running Water," "Fisherman's Song at Dusk," "The Little Cloud Festival," and "The Skirts of Rainbow" recorded by Wang Changyuan. I then cut these original compositions into pieces and arranged them into the five musical montages of 'Three Zithers and a Pair of Scissors.'"
— Stefan Hakenberg, Cambridge, MA.

Stefan HAKENBERG was born in Wuppertal, Germany, and now permanently resides in Juneau, Alaska. His compositions include works for a wide variety of media, from solo chamber music, to stage works, to interactive multimedia installations, to film. His contributions to Hans Werner HENZE's "Alternative Cultural Projects" led to the development of his own projects such as "Der Kinderkreuzzug" (The Children's Crusade) for the Opera of Cologne. Composing in collaboration with amateurs, and the integration of players from the folk music world or of non-western background are particularly important aspects of HAKENBERG's creative thought. His music has been described as "highly original," "dramatic and memorable," and "creating strong musical expressions in a densely contrapuntal style." Full of formal and structural innovations his work is an ongoing reflection on todays musical styles which he finds along an international career that brought him from Cologne's New Music scene of the 80s to Boston's multicultural urban scene of the 90s, to the particularly Asian mix of cultures in Seoul at the turn of the millennium, to creating new music along the southeast Alaskan Alexander Archipelago.

HAKENBERG attended the conservatories of Düsseldorf and Cologne where he studied composition with Hans Werner HENZE. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University where he studied with Bernard RANDS and Mario DAVIDOVSKY. Other grants and fellowships brought him to the summer festivals in Tanglewood (where he studied with Oliver KNUSSEN), Aspen (where he studied with John HARBISON), and Fontainebleau (where he studied with Betsy JOLAS), to the artist colonies "The MacDowell Colony" in New Hampshire, "Yaddo" in Saratoga Springs, and the "Atelierhaus Worpswede" in Lower Saxony. Meet the Composer, the Alaska State Council on the Arts, various Alaskan arts and humanities councils, and the Endowment for the Arts in North-Rhine Westfalia have sponsored his work repeatedly.

HAKENBERG is a founder and artistic director of the Alaskan contemporary music organization "CrossSound", which won the ASCAP-Chamber Music America Award For Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. His collaboration with film-maker Theo LIPFERT, "The Displacement Map," in which HAKENBERG's score is the only audio on the sound track, became an official selection for the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, won a number of awards in the best documentary or best experimental film categories at other festivals. It continues to be presented all around the world.

HAKENBERG's music is published by AUGEMUS Musikverlag, Bochum, Germany and TONOS Musikverlag, Darmstadt, Germany. Recordings are available on the Capstone Records label, Brooklyn, New York. More information at

Invisible Garden for kayagûm, koto, zheng, and two pairs of rocks (1998)
Lei Liang (1972) China/USA

Commissioned for the opening of the Asia Center, Harvard University 1998

"Hsi K'ang, the third century philosopher, painter, poet, and great zither player, once remarked, 'Music manifests nature's harmony; it does not express human emontion.' In writing this piee for the opening of the Asia Center, certain images occurred to me: the form of the performers on stage in the shape of a crescent moon, symbolizing a silent garden; and rain drops (represented by rocks) falling into the crescent, awakening the garden, and unveiling the beauty of its sounds (represented by the three Asian instruments). Unexpectedly, the rain brings an end to the blooms — the garden is again veiled in silence." — Lei Liang, Cambridge, MA.

Lei LIANG was born in November 1972 in Tianjin, China and raised in a musical family in Beijing - received his first piano lessons at the age of four, and began to compose since he was six. He received several awards in China for composition and piano performance. After attending the Extension Division of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing for two years, Lei Liang left for the US in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protest at the age of 17. He studied piano with William Race in Austin, Texas and then, from 1992-1998, he completed both a Bachelor's and a Master's degrees in composition with high academic honors and distinction in performance at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where his principal teacher was Robert Cogan. Lei Liang was named an Honorary Professor of Composition and Sound Design at the Wuhan Conservatory of Music, China in 2000. Liang is currently completing a Ph.D. at Harvard University under Mario Davidovsky.

Bendings for kayagum, koto, guzheng, and Korean percussion – changgu and ching (2003)
Composed by Il-Ryun Chung (1964) Berlin

"Bendings is a piece for the ensemble IIIZ+: kayagum, koto, guzheng and Korean percussion - changgu and ching. It is inspired by the fact that most of the instruments were built to imitate the human voice singing, producing all kinds of pitch-bendings: glissandi, portati and vibrati. Three Asian soul-divas singing melodic lines full of bent notes and traditional vibratos — and a drum/gong which ties them to the earth is what came to my mind when writing the piece. A curve or a bent line is also the aesthetic ideal for the form of the whole piece. Bendings is meant to be tense, to tighten something which then has to be released." — Il-Ryun Chung, Berlin, Germany.

Il-Ryun Chung was born in Frankfurt/M. in 1964, the child of Korean parents. From 1967 to 1971 he lived inSeoul/Korea. Chung’s musical development began rather late, at the age of 16, when he taught himself to play the guitar. In 1984 he went to Berlin, where he found his first teacher and supporter, Carlo Domeniconi. A further encounter of great significance was his acquaintance with the Korean master drummer Kim Duk-Soo,who introduced Chung to Korean percussion music and thus made a lasting impression upon Chung’s rhythmic perception. In 2000-2001 he worked on a concerto for SamulNori and Orchestra

From the very beginning, the collaboration between composer and interpreter has been central to the working out of Chung’s compositions, which despite acute concern for idiomatic instrumental writing always place the highest technical demands upon the performers. Performing as solo guitarist, chamber musician and drummer for traditional Korean music remains an integral part of Chung’s musical life. 1997 he founded together with the violinist Matthias Leupold „Duo Saitenwege“ for Violin and Guitar; and in 2000 he founded together with Jocelyn Clark the EnsembleIIIZ+ for contemporary and classical Asian music.

Awards include a composition stipend from the Berlin Senate in 1992, and in 1994 he was awarded at the Berlin Festival for Guitar and Chamber Music, for his Movement in Circles II for flute and Guitar. In 1993, 1997 and 2003 the Berlin Senate gave him composition commissions. More info at

Suite for Matriarchal Shaman Warriors (2005)
Composed by Fred Ho (1959) New York
for IIIZ+: Chinese 21-string guzheng, Japanese 13-string koto, Korean 12-string kayagûm and Korean changgo percussion

(for Yuri Kochiyama)
(for Mary Choy)
III. EARTH IS EVERYTHING: Stop the Mother-Rapers Who Degrade Her, Our Mother!
(for Moritsugu "Mo" Nishida)
(for Richard Aoki)

Composed in residence at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming August, 2005.

Commissioned with a grant from Meet the Composer's Commissioning Music /USA program (made possible with support from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, and The Target Foundation)


"From the tears and soil of suffering will emerge the spring-like freshness of resistance and the satisfaction from dedicated and determined struggle in the eventual self-government of producers. The aesthetic concept for this suite is post-primitivist ancient avant-garde possessional and processional music.

"All instrumentalists can freely interpret with ornamentation, stylistic embellishments and adlib to enhance the intent and feel/meaning of the work. Traditional Asian "feels" and "stylisms" are welcome as well as more experimental techniques and out-isms.

An explanation for each movement follows:

"1. An Exorcism for Imperialism conjures all forces to remove the ecocidal, exploitative, irrational system of profiteering that threatens to be the immanent planet killer. The music requires the evocation of energies from all spheres and levels from the spiritual to the political. A higher level of consciousness and activity must be summoned, with the ability for simultaneous precision and flexibility. Passion, purpose, and political might must be exercized to be an effective exorcism.

"2. Mothers Make It Happen is a recognition and celebration of the Mother right and the coming-into-being of mother-centeredness (or matriarchy, the logical overthrow of patriarchy). It is an affirmation of the most fundamental and essential condition of production: that without the reproduction of life, labor and social relations, nothing would happen among the human species. This music is also affirmation and assertion that women and mothers are the main force of production by bearing all of the world's children, growing most of the world's food, doing most of the world's work (albeit un- and under-paid), but earn 10% of the world's income and own less than 1% of the world's property. The elimination of this systemic oppression and exploitation will mean the end of Father right (or patriarchy). It asserts the dominant importance of women to the species, to society, to social revolution and to sustainability.

"3. Earth is Everything: Stop the Mother-rapers Who Degrade Her, Our Mother! is a call to action by all necessary means to stop the vile and obscene rapists who defile, degrade and destroy the eco-sphere. This movement was inspired by my time and experiences at the Ucross Foundation in Clearmont/Ucross, Wyoming and the struggle to oppose Coalbed Methane extraction (under the sucker slogans of "Independent Energy" and "Fighting Terrorism"), which threatens to pullout billions of gallons of underground water, salinate the soil, toxify the above ground water runs, risk potential explosions and fires, ruin the landscape, drive off wildlife and ruin the quality of life for farmers and residents. All for the sake of speculative energy profiteering that in most estimates would only provide one year of domestic supply for the U.S.A. The short-sighted, insatiable, perverted lust for profits is Rape.

"4. Sanjo for a Soulful Socialism seeks to undo the errors and re-work the socialist experiments world-wide withan infusion of creativity, self-criticism, summation, and soulful compassion and conviction to expand and deepen human freedom, equity, social justice, redistribution of resources, and to end suffering, misery, hopelessness, consumerist addiction, and social and environmental degradation all for the sanctity of profit and accumulation."
— Fred Ho, August 9, 2005, Ucross, WY
Fred HO is a Chinese-American baritone saxophonist, composer, writer, producer and leader of the Afro Asian Music Ensemble and the Monkey Orchestra. Since graduating from Harvard University with a Bachelor's degree in sociology in 1979, he has developed an "Afro Asian New American" multicultural music that weaves together the most soulful and transgressive forms of African American music with the musical influences of Asia and the Pacific Rim. Over the last twenty years Ho has written over a half dozen operas, music/ theater epics, cutting edge multimedia performance works, martial arts ballet, and oratorios. Ho has received numerous awards, including three Rockefeller Foundation Multi-Arts Project grants (1999, 1998, 1991); two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (Opera/Musical Theater, 1994 and Jazz Composition, 1993); a 1988 Duke Ellington Distinguished Artist Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Musicians Conference, and many others. See for more information.

Goblins’ Lagoon - for koto, kayagum, guzheng and changgu (2006)
Composed by Hiroko Ito (Japan/L.A.)

I. Small Sparks of Fire
II. Crescent Moon
III. Time of the Hourglass
IV. Morning Mist

"Goblins’ Lagoon is written for and dedicated to IIIZ+. Each instrument, from different regions of East Asia, has its own distinctive voice and yet blends well so naturally. The piece attempts to bring out the special characteristics of each instrument, and at the same time, blend the voices as an ensemble. In order to save the traditional spirit of the instruments in my nontraditional composition, traditional fixed tunings are used, with minor adjustments.

"Goblins’ Lagoon is a suite consisting of four short movements in the form of a solo chamber concertino. The subtitles of the movements represent fire, light, time and air, 4 elements that are different and yet exist together and blend naturally. The first movement features kayagum, second guzheng, third changgu and fourth koto." — Hiroko Ito, Los Angeles, CA.
Hiroko Ito obtained her Ph.D. in Music Composition from Harvard University. Her primary teachers include Mario Davidovsky, Stephen Mosko, Mel Powell, and Bernard Rands. Her work has been presented at concerts and festivals including the Tanglewood Music Center, Akiyoshidai International Music Festival and Seminar, Composer's Conference at Wellesley, Aspen Music Festival, Seinen Kaikan Hall in Tokyo, The CrossSound Music Festival in Alaska, the Nashua Chamber Orchestra Children's Concert, and in Halifax, England. She is a winner of the1996 Blodget Composers Competition.

Following receipt of her undergraduate degree in literature in Tokyo, she earned a Masters degree in composition and conducting from the California Institute of the Arts where she was actively involved in premiere performances of fellow composers' new works.

Dr. Ito is also working on a reference book addressing problems and issues associated with composing and performing works for ensembles using non-western instruments. She has presented her research paper related to this topic at the Music Conference at Hamilton College, Clinton, NY.

Twining Voices - for koto, kayagum, guzheng and changgu (2007)
Composed by Yuji Takahashi (Japan)

East Asian traditional instruments have been modernized in different ways and degrees toward speed, tension, equalization, and loudness. Modernization is through westernization in many cases. As a result, music accelerates toward virtuosity and roughness. In this piece, musicians are asked to loosen the tight control of their instruments and music. Through listening to the sounds of their own instruments and the surrounding air, the minute changes of tone quality affect timing and vice versa. On each zither, the historical sense for different intervals forms a portion of the timbre. The entiwining three zither voices is interrupted by the forceful end-rhyme of the changgu. Percussion without traditional jangdan patterns responds to or breaks the flow.

Yuji Takahashi

1938 born in Tokyo / Studied composition with Shibata Minao and Ogura Roh

1963-1966 lived in Europe and worked with Iannis Xenakis

Pianist for Xenakis, John Cage, Toru Takemitsu and others

1966-1972 lived in the U.S.A. as a pianist for contemporary music and studied computer music

1976-2006 Collaboration with the painter Tomiyama Taeko for narratives using slides and music about Asian Women in the age of (neo-)colonialism and war

1978-1985 the Suigyû Band (Water Buffalo Band) for Asian protest songs

1983- improvising with piano and computer

1990- composing and performing more with Japanese traditional instruments and voice

2006 Grant from Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York

"I am interested now in small voices and traditional Japanese instruments, or music of different colors and timing in layers, made of intentionally incomplete fragments, sketches, composed or appropriated. Music can become an informal mode of two-way traffic between the living body (i.e. mind) and the changing world." — Takahashi Yuji

Trio for Three Zithers and Changgu (2008) — composed by Shiaw-Wen Chuang (Taiwan)

"To name or give a title to a musical work always exposes the composer's intention to transmit or express his original idea in creating the piece. People believe that a musical work can in some way express feelings, scenic landscapes or say something narrative. However, music, as a descriptive language, is very different from literature. It is questionable that music can do any of these things.

"To call this piece 'Trio,' a term defined specifically in musical terms, tells us that the composer believes that music itself is not able to transmit, express, or to tell a story. The enjoyment of listening to music comes from listeners' individual dialogue with the moving notes inside a piece, which evoke their experiences. In this way, an extra so-called introduction to a musical work is sometimes unnecessary."
— Chuang Shiaw-Wen, Tainan, Taiwan 2008


Solo/duo Works:

Koto Solos

Tori no youni (Like a Bird) (1985)
(6 or 9.5 min)

"If I could fly like a bird in the big, open sky . . . . Everyone has had a dream like this. Usually we only have this dream when we are deep asleep and are not conscious of our thoughts. But sometimes something breaks through and we open our eyes: when we aspire to something, when we are happy, dreams fill our hearts and we float in the sky, like a bird." — Sawai Tadao

Tori no youni is one of Sawai's best-known works and it demonstrates his talent in creating enchanting melodies that use the koto's unique characteristics. It combines a wide variety of modern and traditional playing techniques.

Sawai Tadao (1937 – 1997) Japan — was born in Aichi Prefecture in 1937. Under the influence of his father, a shakuhachi player, he began his studies of the koto at the age of 10. At the age of 11, he performed on NHK radio for the first time, and in 1959 he was awarded the NHK "Hope of the Year" award for promising new artists. After graduating from Tokyo National University of Find Arts and Music in 1960, Sawai embarked on a series of recitals through which he sought o develop a new world for the koto, building on the work of the legendary koto composer Miyagi Michio (1894 – 1956).

Sawai composed more than 100 works, and as a performer, made more than 100 recordings, ranging from classic koto compositions to his own and other contemporary composers’ works. Sawai was known for his dynamic playing style, willingness to experiment and improvise, and talent in challenging the limits of modern koto playing. His compositions for the 17-string bass koto have been particularly important to the development of that instrument. His compositions range from experimental avant-garde compositions to works that are accessible to amateur koto players. He has also composed for shamisen and shakuhachi.

Koto Solos
Kohru (Freeze) (1977)
(8 min.)

" In tablature notation, these two pieces, which form a pair, seem completely identical. They were composed with regard to the koto's exceptional instrumental characteristics: different sound-effects arise within the same "te" (basic melody), depending on the change of the strings' tuning; as a result of "oshite" (pressing the string to raise the pitch with the left hand) the first piece leaves the classical way of playing behind, while the other one approaches the classical way. The title "kohru" reflects my own state of mind: I've let my mind "freeze," so to speak (Kohru = freeze), in order to make this system clearly recognizable.

"Tsumugu (spin)" for 20-strings koto, "kageru (be obscured) " for 17-strings koto, as well as "kohru", constitute a koto trilogy."

Born in Mito, Japan, in 1943, Shin-ichiro Ikebe studied composition with Tomojiro Ikenouchi, Akio Yashiro and Akira Miyoshi. He graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music with a Masters degree in 1971. As one of Japan's busiest composers of our times, he has actively engaged in a wide range of compositional media, including symphonies, operas and theater pieces, as well as music for radio, television and movies.

He won the first prize for composition at the 35th Japan Music Competition in 1966. Since then he has received numerous awards including Salzburg TV Opera Festival Award for Death Goddess (1971), Italian Broadcasting Corporation(RAI) Prize and International Emmy Awards for Carmen(1989). One of his recent works, Les Bois Tristes for Orchestra, was awarded the 1999 Otaka Prize.

Also for film scores, he has received Mainichi Film Music Prize three times and the Japan Academy Music Award six times. His recent works include Dreams (Akira Kurosawa, 1989), Rhapsody in August(Akira Kurosawa, 1991) and The Eel (Shohei Imamura, 1997, Palme d'Or of Festival de Cannes). In addition to these activities, he has published some essays, and also serves as consultant for several concert halls.

He is currently the chairman of The Japan Federation of Composers and a professor at the Tokyo College of Music.

Koto Solos

Midare (17th century)

belongs to a genre of solo koto works called "dan-mono" — theme and variations pieces that have a strict number of beats per section. Midare, meaning literally "chaos," was considered experimental and daring for breaking out of the conventional structure of fifty-two beats per section.

Yatsuhashi Kengyo (1614-1685), or blind "Master" Yatushashi, was the most prominent koto composer and player in the history of the koto. He established the tunings and techniques that are used today. Before him, only one tuning was used; it was never changed.

Kayagûm & Changgu Duos
...where Ginkgo grow in Borromean knots (2005)
for Kayagum and Changgu (ossia)
for Jocelyn Clark
(8 min)

Instead of approaching the composition of this work for traditional Korean instruments by either conforming to the stylizations of the traditional repertoire, or adapting the instrumental forces to speak in the grammar of the contemporary music of the West, I sought to create a middle ground by imagining a fictitious folk tradition.

On the island of N’shima, native Ainu people play instruments imported from Korea. The people of N’shima are tree weavers (in fact, the whole island is a boat whose hull is the complex woven roots of the Gingko trees – the fruits of which are the only export of the island). The natives, living on such an island (the island constantly floats between oceans and time) have developed a great sense of memory, but have no sense of beginning or end (or East or West) or chronology. In their cosmology, the real, the symbolic, and the imaginary and inextricably linked. The structure of their music is also related to their unusual geographic condition: the music consists of nuclear gestures, which constantly weave between and against each other, creating patterns which seem to repeat at different intervals; and, as in complex knots (or weaving patterns), it is difficult to clarify which link is linked to which link, but they are all dependent upon each other.

Ken Ueno (1970) USA — Twice commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for orchestral works, the 2006-2007 Rome Prize recipient, Ken Ueno, is a composer who actively involves himself in a wide range of activities in order to evangelize for modern music. As DJ Moderne, he hosts and produces a weekly live half-hour public access television show devoted to introducing new music and new music composers and performers to the public at large.

Ensembles and performers who have played Ken’s music include the Bang on a Can All-Stars, eighth blackbird, Frances-Marie Uitti, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the American Composers Orchestra (Whitaker Reading Session), the New York New Music Ensemble, the Prism Saxophone Quartet, Relâche, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Dogs of Desire, the Orkest de Ereprijs, and the So Percussion Ensemble. His music has been performed at such venues as Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hopkins Center, Spoleto USA, and at the Norfolk Music Festival, where he was guest composer/lecturer. Ken’s piece for the Hilliard Ensemble, Shiroi Ishi, continues to be featured in their repertoire, recently being performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall in England, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and aired on Italian national radio, RAI 3.

Awards and grants that Ken has received include those from the American Academy in Rome, the Aaron Copland House, Meet the Composer (3), the Belgian-American Education Foundation, Sonic Circuits X, First Prize in the 25th “Luigi Russolo” competition, and Harvard University. The Fromm Music Foundation has commissioned him twice for orchestral works. Upcoming projects include a multimedia theatre work for Kim Kashkashian and Robyn Schulkowsky, which will be a companion piece to Berio’s Naturale; and a chamber orchestra work for the Netherlands Youth Orchestra to be conducted by Stefan Asbury in the summer of 2007.

A former ski patrol and West Point cadet, Ken holds degrees from Berklee College of Music, Boston University, the Yale School of Music, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is a co-founder/co-director of the Minimum Security Composers Collective and is the vocalist in the experimental improvisation group Onda.

Currently, he is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Electronic Music Studios at the University of Massachussetts Dartmouth. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at the Berklee College of Music.

Kayagûm & Changgu Duos
"The Silk Road" (1977)
(15 minutes)

Hwang Byung-Ki Writes, "The discovery of a Persian wine glass with its mysterious translucence in an old Shillan Tomb inspired this composition. The Silk Road indicates two things: one being the east-west trade route of ancient civilizations, and the other, the Shillan fantasy of a remote West.

"The first movement comprises a melody of mystical beauty on subtly changing rhythms portraying joy and sadness. The second movement is in fast 4-beat rhythm with a melody which gradually ascends to the highest register and ends with a rhythmic and harmonic outburst. This is followed by the third movement where the quiet theme is ornamented harmonically. Later, the rhythm in the low register adds an exotic effect. In the third movement a new technique is employed whereby together with a singular dispersal of high notes, a low note is sounded four times to create a dreary mood. This is followed by a cluster of low notes driving on like a storm that are stopped as it were by the sound of a bell, again sounding four times. In the end, the theme of the first movement reappears and the whole work comes to an end."

HWANG Byung-Ki (1936) composer and kayagûm master graduated from Seoul National University with a degree in law in 1959. In 1951 he entered the National Classical Music Institute as a researcher specializing in kayagûm performance and composition where he studied with such noted teachers as Yongyun Kim, Yundok Kim, and Sanggon Shim. Between 1965 and 1973 he won the National Traditional Music Competition three times, the Korean Cinema Music Award in 1973, In 1990 he was named Performing Artist of the Year by the Korean Critics Association for his work in exchange of North and South Korean musicians, and in 1992, he won the Chung'ang Cultural Prize. He has performed and recorded extensively in Europe, Japan, the United States, and Southeast Asia since 1964. In addition to composition and performace, he has taught in the music departments of Seoul National University, the University of Washington in Seattle, and Ewha Women's University where he is presently a professor. Dr. Hwang is also a member of the Intangible Human Cultural Assets Committee, and is the president of the Korea Chapter of the International Society for Contemporary Music.

Kayagûm & Changgu Duos -

Kayagûm Sanjo
Sông Kûmyôn School (Korea)
20th century
(12-15 min)

Sanjo, literally meaning "scattered melodies or modes" is a virtuosic instrumental folk genre that originated around 200 years ago in South Korea. In kayagûm sanjo, the small sanjo kayagûm (as opposed to the larger court kayagûm) enters into a dialogue with an accompanying changgo (hourglass drum). Sanjo has many different versions, which are divided into schools. The Sûng Kûmyôn School of kayagûm sanjo is tightly pieced together with thrift and simplicity, basic qualities Korean traditional music. It is also known as one of the longest extant sanjo — over one hour — but today, it will be pieced together into about fifteen minutes of music.

Sûng Kûmyôn (1923 - 1986) was born in Tamyang, South Cheolla Province in 1923 and passed away in 1986 in Hawaii, where she had immigrated in 1974. She, along with Hwang Byung-Ki, was the first to transcribe sanjo into western notation after WWII. In 1968 she was designated Important Intangible Human Cultural Asset no. 23 for Kayagûm Sanjo by the Korean Government, but was stripped of the honor with her move to the US.

Sûng studied kayagûm with An Kiok (1905-1968) [a student of Han Sukku (1870-?) whose sanjo was derived from Chôlla province p'ansori traditions] and Pak Sanggûn (1905-1949) [a student of Pak Palkwae and Pak Tôksu (dates unknown) whose sanjo was derived from the shinawi traditions of Ch'unch'ông and Kyônggi Provinces where the kutkôri rhythm is deeply rooted]. Sûng Kûmyôn's school of sanjo is carried today by her daughters. It contains both improvisational and fixed elements.

Zheng Solos

Xiyun (Rhyme Play) (1993)
(7 min)

This is an improvisational piece that uses elements of traditional Peking opera such as “chang”(to sing), “nian”(to recite), “zuo”(to act), “da”(physical gestures) as its source material, while at the same time introduces new concepts and techniques. The piece is varied in its melodies, tempi (fast, scattered, slow), rhythms, and ornaments.

WANG Jianming (1956) China — was born in 1956 in Wuxi. He is currently professor of composition and theory at the Shanghai Conservatory.

Wang started his musical studies in Wuxi on the cello. In 1977 he graduated from the Nanjing Academy of Arts in composition and entered the Shanghai Conservatory composition department, graduating in 1987.

Since then, Wang has composed everything from songs, to dance music, to television music to instrumental music solo, chamber music, and symphonic works. Prizes include second prize in the "6th National Music Work Appraisal," the "Ministry of Culture '95 East Cup for Outstanding Works," and 3rd prize in the national "Tianshan Character and Style" competition. In all, over 30 of his pieces have received awards.

His works have been played by the Chinese Symphony Orchestra, the Central National Philharmonic Prchestra, the Chinese Broadcast Symphony Orchestra, the Central Ballet Troupe Symphony Orchestra, the Chinese Opera Opera House Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Nationalities Philharmonic Orchestra, the Shanghai Conservatory Nationalities Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as orchestras in Taipei, Japan, and Moscow. His pieces have been included in over 20 published CD's.


Si duan qu
(Four short pieces)
traditional Shandong School)
(3 min)

This is a suite of four programatic pieces each of 68 beats: “The Charm of the Zither” imitates the gliding sounds of the 7-stringed fretless zither of the literati, or qin; the “Wind Blows the Green Bamboo” is self-explanitory; “The Tinkle of Bells at Night” depicts a tranquil night on the road, when unexpectedly in the distance a line of cavalry appears; and using adjacent strings and sliding ornaments, “Rhyme Book” immitates the sound of an old literatus reading a poetry book outloud.

Shandong School — This school branched from the Henan School when steel and copper strings began to be used at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty 1644). The Shandong zheng traditionally had 15-16 strings of steel and coiled copper and was plucked with ivory or tortise shell. Shandong pieces are generally in the key of G.

Yaishan ai
(The sorrow of cliff mountain)
(traditional Kejia School)
(6 min)

This piece describes an event in the history of the Kejia (or Hakka) people. In 1297 at the end of the Song Dynasty, Mongolian Yuan troops invaded. The last Southern Song Emperor Zhao (age 9) fled south to Guangdong, but became trapped in Yaimen. Lu Xiufu, the prime minister, carried the young emperor and jumped into the ocean at Yaishan killing them both before the Mongols reached them and thus dying for their country. The piece commemorates his actions.

Kejia School — Kejia means "guest peoples" and refers to the Hakka who who lived in the Zhouyuan region around Henan, but were forced to move south to the area between Guangdong and Guangxi (Canton) after Mongolian invastions in northern China. The Kejia style of zheng playing originally came from the Henan School, but was influenced by the music of Guangdong and Guangxi after the move south, and thus developed into its own style. As with the Shandong style, the Kejia zheng uses metal strings and are generally in the key of G, but uses bamboo picks.