Friday, November 1, 2019

Composer Profile: Qing Olivia Yang in Conversation with Christian Baldini

On November 9, I will have the pleasure of conducting the US premiere of Qing Olivia Yang's work "Alice", with the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in Sacramento. Below is a nice exchange we had with Olivia, in preparation for the performance.

Christian Baldini: Olivia, it will be a pleasure to welcome you in Sacramento as a composer and performer to bring your piece to life in California for the first time. The work is written for voice, sampler/electronics and orchestra, and it is not very usual to have the composer serve as the performer as well, so a special treat in many ways. Please tell us about the genesis of this work, based on a lonely whale. How did you get this idea and its inspiration for your music?

Qing Olivia Yang: Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to work with the Camellia Symphony Orchestra and you! I happened to read about Alice on the Internet and heard the real voice sampling of this whale. It was unable to communicate properly with other whales and was lonely because the whale had a frequency of 52Hz, compared with 15 to 25Hz for normal whales. Alice's situation reminds me of myself, and I often feel lonely like Alice: whenever some thought or action is not understood by others, especially those close to me... But I never give up expression, looking for my soul mate, just like Alice!
After seeing it, I immediately had a lot of inspirations. And I imagined expressing the resonance between human beings and animals in the form of orchestral music, electronic music and human voice: orchestral music is the sea, electronic music is Alice itself, and human voice represents human beings. These three voices sometimes appear in isolation, sometimes appear in each other indistinguishably.
I also have a unique design about the structure and style of the music. Depending on Alice's own sound motive, I develop it into a new melody, and gradually moving from impressionist music style to a contemporary music stylefinally back to the original voiceI want to express the change of Alice that from happiness in the sea originally to pain, loneliness cause the unique voice of itself when it finds that and finally it calms down and go on seeking the bosom friends.

The work premiered at the opera hall of the Central Conservatory of Music(Beijing, China) on June 25, 2018. The conductor was Mr.Hao Shen(professorof CCOM), and UNAM-CCOM orchestra and I played it. After the first performance, I received a lot of good comments.

CB: Who would you say are your main influences as a composer?

QOY: There are a lot of composers I like very much. Their work impressed when I was a child, such as Bach, Vivaldi, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ligeti, and active in modern XiaogangYe, Jianping Tag, Wenjing GuoDun Tan, Guoping JiaWenchen QinChangyuan Liu, Binyang Li, Simon Steen Anderson, and so on.

CB: What do you try to communicate with your own music? What is special about symphonic music? Would you be interested in writing an opera?

QOY: I don’t want to limit my music or my expression by making music into a single style, but I would like to express an idea clearly in each work by “music”because I think the form should serve the content. So before each creation, I often imagine and choose a theme to express the spirit, and then determine the appropriate form, style and structure. Of course, I am very interested in opera, I love singing since I was a child, I think the voice is one of the most direct way to express music emotions. I've written several musicals, and I want to write an opera very much!

CB: Tell us about your background. You grew up and studied in China. Who were the main influences and teachers in your life?

QOY: I started to learn the keyboard when I was five years old. After one year of learning, I could play Bach's Gigue, then my first music teacher Mr. GuohuiQiao discovered my gift and recommend me to engage in music. After a few years, I studied music composition in the middle school attached to Central Conservatory of MusicProfessor Changyuan Liu is my first teacher of music composition, he is a very famous Chinese composer alsoAnd I studied fothe bachelor and master degree in the composition department of the CCOM, under Professor Jianping Tang and Guoping Jia, who are also very famous composers in China. I really appreciate all three teachers for their help with my studies and the inspiration they gave me in the road of music composition.

CB: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What would you like to be doing?

QOY: I'm not sure where I will be after 10 years. I love traveling, maybe I will be in the Antarctic when we contact one day in the future. But no matter where I am, of course I will always write as a composer, this is my career, I can't live without music.

CB: Thank you very much for your time, and we look forward to featuring your considerable talents as singer and composer in Sacramento.

QOY: Thank you, Christian. Thank you everyone! I'm looking forward to the performance on the evening of 9th November!

Qing (Olivia) Yang (born in 1992), young composer, is a resident composer of the China Broadcasting Art Troupe. Qing is also a member of the Chinese National Orchestral Society.

Qing graduated from the Attached Middle School of Central Conservatory and got her bachelor’s degree of composition from Central Conservatory of Music. In 2015, she was recommended as a graduate student majoring in composition in Central Conservatory of Music. Qing was tutored by several great Chinese composers, including professor Changyuan Liu, professor Jianping Tang, professor Guoping Jia, etc.

During her study in CCOM, Qing won a considerable amount of prizes, honors, and scholarships. Qing Yang composes an extensive range of works. The compositions have won her several prizes. Qing composes works from serious music to popular music, from classical music to fusion music, even movie soundtracks. As it comes to the genres she composes, there are solo music, chamber music and symphony for both Chinese traditional instruments and western instruments.

Qing’s compositions are well performed both domestically and internationally. Her works have been performed in Beijing National Center for the Performing Arts, Zhongshan Concert Hall, Beijing Concert Hall, Central Conservatory of Music Concert Hall, Beijing Century Theatre, Peking University Centennial Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Center Concert Hall, Taipei Zhongshan Hall, etc. There are also overseas performances in cities in Europe and North America, for example, Toronto, Tallinn, Nuremberg.

Qing cooperated with some brilliant orchestras, including China Broadcasting National Orchestra, China Broadcasting and Film Symphony Orchestra, Central Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra, China Youth Symphony Orchestra, Xi'an Symphony Orchestra, Taipei City Orchestra, Camellia Orchestra, Yuanyang Chamber Music Group, etc. Qing also have cooperations with Jiapeng Peng, Ling Li, Tao Fan, Hao Shen, Christian Baldini, Chunquan Qu, Bingbing Zhang, Yujue Ji and many other outstanding conductors.

The representative works of Qing can be categorized into several genres. She wrote symphonies including The Flowing River Runs into the Heart, and Alice; the symphony for national orchestra, named Overture of the National Costums; the fusion work called Screaming, solo piece called The Memory of the Tashilhunpo Monastery for the instrument Sheng; the piece for chamber music called Samatha; national symphony with a small arrangement called Songs of Chu; Concertino named Road for Konghou; soundtracks for the movie Embarrassments in Vietnam; music for stage shows called Castle in the Sky and The Magic of Panda Fairy; music for contemporary primitive dance Women of the Dai Minority in Mountains; popular song called Shining Star.

In 2017, Qing’s work Road-Trilogy was selected in the Young Composing Talent Program of the China National Arts Fund. In 2018, Qing held an exclusive concert titled Screaming performing her compositions, which was highly praised by the audiences.