The news had just hit about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut when Roosevelt University composer Kyong Mee Choi sat down to write a new piece of music for the New Music Ensemble at Western Michigan University.
Choi, an associate professor of music composition in Roosevelt’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, recalls being unable to create much of anything as she tried to comprehend the killings and loss being experienced by families who lost children.
“I remember seeing some of the parents on the news. Some were so forgiving and others were so angry, and it got me thinking that I’d like to reach out to them through my music,” said Choi, whose nine-minute piece, Tender Spirit, premiered on March 22 at the New Music Festival at Western Michigan University.
Written for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion and featuring electronics, the piece is about human madness and how those impacted by it transcend to a peaceful state, according to Choi.
“I could not possibly imagine how the parents of the children who were killed could handle things so I wrote this music with the thought in mind of cradling these beautiful young children and treating them nicely before they leave the Earth,” the composer said.
Composer of the multimedia opera, THE ETERNAL TAO, Choi was selected to write the piece for the School of Music at Western Michigan University because of her proven ability in incorporating visual arts and electronics into her compositions.
“The piece is very forceful – rough and sharp in a lot of ways. It really penetrates the listener,” said David Colson, director of the School of Music at Western Michigan University who conducted the premiere of Tender Spirit as performed by the School’s New Music Ensemble.
“Interestingly enough, it also has this secondary layer that is quiet and gentle in a comforting kind of way,” he said.
As a sequel to the piece, Choi’s Tender Spirit II for video also premiered this month during the Chicago Electro-Acoustic Music Festival. Both pieces can be played together for greater impact and immediacy.
Listen to Tender Spirit:
Listen and watch Tender Spirit II
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