“This music attempts to be a conscience in a time of oblivion. She dared, in
An Eye for an Eye, to counter abuses of moral authority with an internal, personal sound using the string quartet as a witness, a reminder that music and creativity are part of a continuing web of responsibility. Alexandra du Bois, for one, looked out at the world and heard an urgent, inward sound revered by western composers since 1750 as the repository of some of their deepest thoughts. Alexandra found a voice where many were speechless”
- David Harrington,
Composer Alexandra du Bois discovered music through the violin, playing the instrument from the age of two years old and later began composing at age fifteen. Her music has been performed on four continents at venues including Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Barbican Hall in London, The Théàtre de la Ville in Paris, among many others. Alexandra du Bois’ music has been commissioned by ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet, Bargemusic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, The Beaux Arts Trio, Merkin Concert Hall, The Piano Project at the Kaufman Center in New York and many others.
In 2003 Alexandra du Bois was chosen from over 300 composers from 32 countries as the inaugural recipient of the Kronos: Under 30 Project commission. As a result, du Bois wrote Oculus pro oculo totum orbem terrae caecat (An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind) for the Kronos Quartet. Alexandra du Bois’ second commission from Kronos Quartet resulted in Night Songs. For this work, Alexandra was inspired by the life, journals and letters of the young writer Etty Hillesum (1914-1943), who died in Auschwitz in 1943 and left one of the great moral documents of the 20th century. The Kronos Quartet premiered Night Songs at Stanford University and Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in 2006. Southwest Chamber Music will perform several of du Bois’ compositions during the Ascending Dragon Music Festival here in Los Angeles and in Vietnam. She is writing From Within Me, Wood Grows for the Ascending Dragon Music Festival premiere at the Hanoi Opera House in March 2010.
Composer and violist Kurt Rohde lives in San Francisco. His music has been described as being “filled with exhilaration. It’s a mirror of our times, It is dark music, lit up by peckings, clackings, snaps and slides. It sounds eerie, but lyrical; sustained, but skittish; free-form, yet dancing.” San Jose Mercury News, Richard Scheinin.
Conductor Kent Nagano has also remarked that “Kurt Rohde is an artist whose creative talent reminds one of our great personalities of the past. Both a fluent and brilliant solo and ensemble performer, he is also flexible, prolific and a deeply gifted composer.
Recipient of the 2008 Rome Prize, Kurt Rohde has also received the Charles Ives Fellowship and the Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and commission awards from the Koussevitzky Foundation of the Library of Congress, the Fromm Foundation of Harvard University, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Hanson Institute for American Music. Kurt Rohde was a recipient of the Berlin Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin. He has served as composer in residence at the Yellow Barn Music Festival, and as guest composer at the Wellesley Composers Conference. He has received numerous commissions from Kent Nagano in both the United States and Europe. Southwest Chamber Music will include his Oculus for String Orchestra, Seeing Things, and Under the Influence in its repertory for Ascending Dragon. Threnody will have its world premiere at the Hanoi Opera House in March 2010.
Pham Minh Thanh was born in 1978 in Hanoi. He studied piano and composition at the Vietnam National Academy of Music under the tutelage of composer Do Hong Quan until 2000. From 2000-2006, Minh Thanh studied composition at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory with Professor Konstantin Batashov. His compositions have been performed and broadcast throughout Vietnam, as well as in Moscow. He is currently teaching composition at the Musicology /Composition /Conducting Department at the Vietnam National Academy of Music. Minh Thanh is honored to be part of the Ascending Dragon Music Festival.
Vu Nhat Tan is a Vietnamese composer of experimental orchestral/chamber/piano and electro/computer and multimedia works. His compositions have been performed in Australia, Cambodia, China, France, Germany, Mongolia, Switzerland, the U.S., and Vietnam, including at the Roaring Hoofs Festival in Ulaanbaatar, and the Louisiana Festival of Contemporary Music in Baton Rouge, among others. Tan studied piano at the Vietnam National Academy of Music in Hanoi, where he earned a certificate in 1987 and degrees in secondary education in composition and musicology in 1991. He then studied composition and musicology there from 1991-95. He later studied computer music and new music at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne in 2000-01, on a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. In addition, he studied composition with Chinary Ung at the University of California at San Diego in 2002 as a guest student. His honors include Third Prize in the composition for traditional instruments competition of the Vietnam Composers Association in Hanoi and First Prize in the Saint-Germain-en-Laye competition. Most recently, he received a grant from the Asian Cultural Council which enabled him to research contemporary music and ethnomusicology in the U.S. He is also active in electro/computer music and multimedia performances. His Pho, a description of the busy streets of Vietnam, will be premiered during Ascending Dragon at the Hanoi Opera House in March 2010.
Nguyen Thien Dao was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1940. He arrived in France in 1953, entering the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris in 1963. His decisive meeting with Olivier Messiaen in 1967, in whose class he received the 1st prize for composition, led him to discover the path that would become his own. At first filled with images from his childhood and long meditations on nature, possessed by "celestial and imaginary polyphony", and then Vietnamese and Chinese poetry, he sees himself as "heir to two civilizations; oriental and occidental". He tried to "work out a synthesis by constructing a music based on micro-intervals, sound colors, rhythmic structure and time duration.” Southwest Chamber Music will be performing his Au dessus du vent for solo harp and 12 strings, A Mi K Giao Tranh, and Doi during Ascending Dragon.
Born in Hue in 1933, Ton That Tiet went to Paris in 1958 to study composition at the French National Conservatory of Music. He attended Jean Rivier and André Jolivet classes for composition. Ton That Tiet has written the music of Tran Anh Hung's three films: The Scent of Green Papaya, Cyclo and At the Height of Summer. He has also collaborated with Régine Chopinot on two of her dance pieces: Parole de feu (1995) and Danse du temps (1999). In 1993, he founded the "France-Vietnam Music Association" to promote the development of music in Vietnam. Southwest Chamber Music will be performing his Mémoire de la rivière, Les jardins d’autre monde, and Poèmes for Flute, Viola, Harp and Vietnamese Instruments during