Undergraduate composers share virtual premieres of new music

Clare Longendyke at the piano
May 5, 2020

As the final project for Postdoctoral Researcher Ashkan Behzadi's winter quarter composition studio, the four young composers in his class (Diana Kalima, Gareth Ramsey, Huiji (Victor) Cui and Mingji Wang) each composed a short piece for piano solo. With the generous support of Prof. Augusta Read Thomas and the wonderful collaboration of piano artist in residence Clare Longendyke, and thanks to the financial support of the University of Chicago’s Joel and Carol Honigberg Fund, Behzadi and his students had the chance to premiere these four new compositions on April 14th. Due to the growing coronavirus pandemics planned. Characteristically for the University of Chicago, faculty and students got creative, producing a streaming concert online instead. In this short but rich concert, Clare Longendyke masterfully performed four pieces of varying aesthetic qualities, all crafted with advance levels of artistic integrity. 

In the videos below, you can hear the recording of brand new music by Gareth Ramsey, Mingji Wang, and Huiji Cui’s.

Mingji Wang: Machine Memories

Machine memories is a study of the collage of nostalgic poetics and mechanic indifference that a person may experience in a modern city.

Gareth Ramsey: Fundamental

Fundamental started as a piece for trumpet and piano exploring the interactions between the B-flat harmonic series of a natural trumpet and the 12-tone equal tempered piano. This influence can still be seen in the final piano solo version with the focus on pitches in the B-flat harmonic series and the resonances of the note B-flat.

Huiji (Victor) Cui: Lyric Pieces

Lyrics Pieces is a collection of five short miniatures for solo piano, starting with a slow stroll in Messiaen’s dreamy garden and closing off by a dirge-like elegiac to Dr Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who is the whistler blower for COVID-19, and later died from saving lives.

I. In Messiaen’s Garden
II. Broken Toy
III. Folksong
IV. Cage
V. Elegiac, for Li Wenliang