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Taiwanese composer debuts new work in virtual performance

  • Date:2020-05-24
Taiwanese composer debuts new work in virtual performance

The world premiere of Taiwanese composer Li Yuan-chen's (李元貞) new work "Syn Sym Sing," which was performed by the Avery Fisher Prize-winning cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, streamed online on May 24. The virtual performance was followed by a Q&A session with both the composer and the performer that was moderated by American Composers Orchestra (ACO) President Ed Yim and ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel.

In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on composers and performers, ACO initiated a short works commission project for solo instrument or voice — "Connecting ACO Community" — to support musicians who need financial assistance and to also hold virtual, interactive performances for ACO's supporters, patrons, and members of the general public.

Under the project, each composer will receive US$500 to create the piece and each performer will receive US$500 to perform the work, with the rights to stream for six months. In April alone, premieres of seven new works took place online through the ACO program.

Li, a music composition major, arrived on Taiwan's contemporary music scene in 2000 with her chamber music piece "Zang (葬)." Since then, the talented musician has won major honors and awards, worked with Grammy-winning ensembles, and presented music in master classes for esteemed composers.

In addition, the University of Chicago graduate has created works that have been programmed in many concert series and global festivals, resonating with audiences regardless of their backgrounds and nationalities.

Commenting on her new work "Syn Sym Sing," Li said it is a tribute to human sociability and innate love for group gatherings at a time when social distancing has become a daily reality for so many. Even with the inexpressiveness of the face mask, the desire for person-to-person interaction remains strong and humans will always care for each other as a community, said the Portland-based artist.

Touted as a player "with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone" by the New York Times, cellist Zeigler is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the US President's Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts, and the Chamber Music America National Service Award.

Admired as a potent collaborator and unique improviser, Zeigler is the cellist of the vocal punk band "(M)iyamoto is Black Enough" and has produced dozens of commissioned works. Currently the label director of National Sawdust Tracks, Zeigler has led collaborations and tours with distinguished artists and performed as a soloist with many international symphony houses.

All the proceeds from the US$5 entrance ticket sales will solely go to fund artists involved in this project. The recorded session will be available on ACO's website and social media platforms and "Music on the Rebound," an online festival for participating in live events as well as a platform for streaming concerts.