LI Tao

Doctoral Degree Recital

November 5th, 2018, 7:30pm

Bei--Initial Salutation for cello, percussion and voice (2015)

This piece is greatly inspired and influenced by the Great Compassion Mantra (大悲咒) which is one of the most important mantras in Buddhism. The title Bei comes from the Chinese pinyin of 悲 which, in this context, means compassion. The text sung in this piece is the initial salutation of the mantra. The Great Compassion Mantra is written in Sanskrit and was translated into Chinese in the 7th century. In this piece, I set the Chinese Pinyin pronunciation.

Text: (Sanskrit transliteration)

Great Compassion Mantra

Initial Salutation:

nā mo hē là dá nà duō là yè yé
nā mo a lī yé. wó lú jié dì shuò bō là yé
pú tí sà duǒ wó yé mó hā sà duǒ wó yé mó hā jiā lú ní jiā yé

English translation

Adoration to the Three Gems, adoration to the noble Avalokiteśvarā, the enlightened sentient being, the great being, the merciful (one)!

Xun 寻 (2016)

Xun (寻) in Chinese means searching. The searching in this piece can be between two instruments and it can also be the searching of each instrument on their own. It could be a searching of the timbres of the instruments or the expressive language. What are the instruments searching for and do they find it?

Gu Yan Er 孤雁儿 (2015)

Text: (In Chinese)


李清照 (1084 - ~1151)


English translation:

A little wild goose

Li Qingzhao (1084-~1151)

Translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, Edited by Li Tao

This morning I woke
In a bamboo bed with paper curtains,
I have no words for my weary sorrow,
No fine poetic thoughts.
The sandalwood incense smoke is stale,
The jade burner is cold.
I feel as though I were filled with quivering water.
To accompany my feelings
Someone plays three times on a flute
"Plum blossoms are falling
in a village by the river."
How bitter this spring is.
Small wind, fine rain, hsiao, hsiao,
Falls like a thousand lines of tears.
The flute player is gone.
The jade tower is empty.
Broken hearted-we had relied on each other.
I pick a plum branch,
Heaven and earth;
There is no one to give it to.

Chou Xi 丑戏 (2015)

Xi means play or opera: this piece is inspired by Peking opera. There are five categories of character in Peking opera and Chou is one of them. Chou's role in Peking opera is to entertaining and this character never sings. Instead it has a lot of body movements and a lot of different ways to walk, sometime with long passages of speaking normally accompanied by percussion from the orchestra.

Shui Sheng Hua 水生花 (2018)

Shui Sheng Hua -- translated as water spawned flower -- is written for solo flautist. Originally I wrote this piece for Linda for a collaboration between her and OCF composers to explore the sonic world of solo flute.

Water Sapphires (2017)

Water Sapphires is inspired by the astonishing scene of Ruth glacier in Denali National Park, Alaska. I came cross pictures of the Ruth glacier from National Geographic. The glacier appears in a triple color of different degrees of blue. The purity of the blue colors looks like liquid sapphires. The trio instrumentation of this piece perfectly represents the tri-color of the nature scene. The two sections symbolize my two interpretation of the glacier: the torrential flow and the stationary gem.

photo: Aaron Huey

Shan Shui Song cycle 山水歌集 (2015)

Shan Shui Remix 2017 (part 1 and part 2) is based on my acoustic song cycle Shan Shui which was originally composed for soprano and bassoon. The song cycle has four songs, all setting poems by Li Bai from the Tang dynasty China. In these two remixes, I try to maintain the form of the acoustic songs, mixing in electronic elements to archive a fuller dimension of text painting that was impossible with only acoustic instruments.

Four Scenes from the West (2018)

Four Scenes from the West for flute, clarinet, haegeum and cello is inspired by four specific photographs that I took of the astonishing scenery of the American West coast, specifically, sunbeams through the forest, sand formation, colorful twilight, and stormy surf. In the piece, four musical sections paint sonic impressions of these scenes.