top of page

Shallow Breath and Stealth program notes

 

I will never forget the first time I heard THE CROSSING - their clarity, exquisite precision, beautifully formed expression, profound dedication, and transformative performance gave me a moment of biblical intensity that I had never quite experienced prior.

 

I first heard The Crossing in 2011, when I subbed as a violinist with the remarkable new music group ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), we were all performing the American premiere of Scottish New Complexity composer James Dillons’ 3-evening multimedia extravaganza, NINE RIVERS– a piece of such extreme demands, it was dubbed “one of the most cancelled music projects of all time”.

 

From that moment on, THE CROSSING was the sound I had in my head whenever I imagined a group of singers.  Theirs were the choral sonorities I imagined when writing my opera, THE LIFE AND DEATH(S) of ALAN TURING, in which the chorus plays an unprecedentedly large role in the sonic and narrative landscape.  The first version of TURING included choral sections considered much too complicated by standards of traditional opera chorus.  It hadn’t occurred to me that traditional opera choruses memorize their music – I am still wondering if any chorus will be able to memorize the streamlined versions that I’ve written since.  The other great difficulty of Turing was the finale – a bubbling conglomeration of everything that had come before, in a polyrhythmic prismatic stew- about 4 times more complex than its 2019 form.

 

Imagine my tremendous joy, when in 2018, I discovered that Donald Nally had agreed to act as choral director for the orchestral workshop of TURING.  And.  Oh, my goodness, the first rehearsal of TURING is still an experience that gives me chills – what a profoundly exciting experience it was to hear my choruses realized with such precision, empathy, and exquisite musicianship.

 

When Donald Nally showed me Jena Osman’s Poem MOTION STUDIES, I was simultaneously extraordinarily excited by the prospect of translating Osman’s dizzyingly beautiful, haunting, whimsical, and terrifying work, and deeply moved and surprised that making this work was something Donald imagined I could achieve.

JUSTINE F. CHEN

COMPOSER AND VIOLINIST

BREAKING NEWS:
BEST WORLD PREMIERE 2023!
Our "Fantastical, evocative, and nuanced" opera THE LIFE AND DEATH(S) OF ALAN TURING was just named BEST WORLD PREMIERE of 2023 by Chicago Tribune today! Thank you, David Simpatico, Chicago Opera Theater, and American Lyric Theater!!!!

SAVE THE DATE! - THE CROSSING CD releases our creation to the world: SHALLOW BREATH AND STEALTH! APRIL 5, 2024!

Check out my spotify track for Mighty Matt Haimovitz's extraordinary performance of IRIDESCENT GEST!


Come Join Us!
March 25, 2024 - THE FORUM, Columbia's gorgeous concert venue! The Harlem Chamber Players will be performing my string quartet
6:30 PM! 


THANK YOU to the cast and crew of THE LIFE AND DEATH(S) OF ALAN TURING!!  Chicago Tribune  COT Interview Out Chicago
What to do in Chicago
Crain's Business
The Economist
Chicago Tribune


CHECK OUT my Know Them Now video on YouTube! Thanks, BMI!

 All content in this website, including text,

most images and sound files, is ©Copyright 2023 by Justine Fang Chen.

bottom of page