Motion_Studies
Motion_Studies

Image of Justine in Ai Wei Wei's surveillance playground in the Park Avenue Armory. 2017

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Motion_Studies
Motion_Studies

Image of Justine in Ai Wei Wei's surveillance playground in the Park Avenue Armory. 2017

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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:
SO EXCITED to announce the long-awaited WORLD PREMIERE production of my opera with librettist David Simpatico, THE LIFE AND DEATH(S) OF ALAN TURING!! March 23, 25, 26 2023!
Get your tickets here!


TREMENDOUS GRATITUDE to the amazing, wondrous performers in our workshop of SEVEN SISTERS at Manhattan School of Music 4/8/22!

BRAVI to the terrific students of UMD's prestigious School of Music and Maryland Opera Studio, in their phenomenal performances of my residency concert
2/12/22!!

THANK YOU to THE Divine CROSSING
and Donald Nally performing the world premiere of my SHALLOW BREATH AND STEALTH on WRTI.ORG 12/19/21!

 

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