Composer of the Day!

Today’s Composer of the Day is Chinary Ung!

(b. 1942)

Chinary Ung was born in Cambodia in 1942. He is an expert in traditional Khmer music and a master of the roneat-ek, a xylophone-like instrument (this is what it sounds like). He came to the United States in 1964, subsequently studying with Mario Davidovsky and George Crumb. He currently teaches composition at U.C., San Diego.

Not surprisingly, his compositions are a kind of fusion of Eastern and Western music. This is how he describes his music:

I believe that imagination, expressivity, and emotion evoke a sense of Eastern romanticism in my music that parallels some of the music-making in numerous lands of Asia. Above all, in metaphor, if the Asian aesthetic is represented by the color yellow, and the Western aesthetic is represented by the color blue, then my music is a mixture -- or the color green.

This is a recent review of his music by Allan Kozinn:

The main attraction of Chinary Ung’s “Spiral I” (1987), scored for cello, piano and percussion, is the seamlessness with which it blends contemporary Western harmonic conventions and Asian melodic influences. Asian timbres are approximated as well, with the cello line, played by André Emelianoff, sometimes sliding between pitches.

And here is a middle-school masterclass given by Chinary and his wife, Susan. If only more middle-schools had a music program like this one...

Lastly, this is a link to Art of the States, where you can listen to a really, really cool piece for percussion and cello (with both of them singing at points). It’s called Grand Alap: A Window in the Sky, written in 1996. You can also find the program notes there.

You should listen to his Asian-Euro-American-flavored music!


Sator Arepo said...

How is sliding a timbre?

Aaron said...

Yay! My favorite DR feature returns.

Empiricus said...

I figured someone would catch the timbre thing.

I'm glad the COD is back, too.

Anonymous said...

Like to see the CODs...

but this "master"class has too much talking and not enough music!

Dreadfully boring and barely informative.

Search "Beijing opera" in youtube for Chinese music.

Empiricus said...

Well anon.,

The "masterclass" was intended for middle-school students. Sorry if you found it boring. I found it cool on so many other levels than just its entertainment/information value.

Either way, you should listen to his music! And I should listen to more Chinese music. Yum. Thanks for the comment.