I recently had the privilege of participating in the UMass Fine Arts Center's Codemakers Series as part of their Asian and Asian American Arts and Culture Program. During the post-concert discussion, a question arose about our relationship to the canon while working in classical music, an art form originating from Western Europe. As an American artist of the global ethnic majority living and working in the West, this is a question that holds a lot of significance for me, and I was grateful to be in conversation with other artists on the program, Vijay Iyer and Texu Kim (video of the talk here). My relationship with the canon has evolved from my student days to my professional life with the Chiara Quartet. Now it’s evolving again on a new musical journey with the Del Sol Quartet, a group that performs mainly non-canonical contemporary works. The borders of the canon, who and what defines it, and the perceived importance of it, all recede into background noise. It feels good to rebuild and reframe the relationship with the canon on my own terms.
Some upcoming events with the Del Sol include Huang Ruo's Dust in Time and the Angel Island Oratorio at the National Museum of Asian Art in Washington D.C. and performances of Angel Island at SIFA in Singapore. The oratorio is a moving work that tells the stories of Chinese immigrants detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station in the early 20th century. For those who happen to be in D.C. or in Singapore, don't miss this opportunity to see the Del Sol Quartet in action as we bring the stories of the past to life and celebrate the resilience and strength of immigrants in the U.S.
The program at the UMass Fine Arts Center (video above) included the World Premiere of Convivio for solo violin composed by Texu Kim interweaved with J.S. Bach's Adagio and Fugue from Sonata No. 3 in C Major. He writes, "Convivio addresses the evolution and diaspora of heritage…incorporating first notes from the fugue as symbolic and musical material. The material appears in various forms…including avant-garde or folk music. Symbolizing other possible descendants of the material that have not been embraced by mainstream history, they contest the hierarchy and celebrate their imaginary coexistence – hence the title, Convivio, referring to a feast or living together."