Rush for pipa and string quartet (1997) (world premiere)
Commissioned by the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival
with the assistance of the Canada CouncilMelissa Hui, born in Hong Kong and raised in North Vancouver, BC., received degrees from UBC, the California Institute of the Arts, and Yale University. Recent commissions include works for ensembles and organizations such as the orchestras of Vancouver and the National Arts Centre, the Hammerhead Consort in Edmonton, and the CBC. She composed the soundtrack to this year's Oscar-winning documentary short subject, Sunrise over Tiananmen Square, produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Hui's works have been performed by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, and at Gaudeamus Music Week in Amsterdam and Focus Festival in New York City. Her numerous awards include the Grand Prize at the 1996 CBC Young Composers' Competition and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Current projects include commissioned works for the Kronos Quartet, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and the Peninsula Symphony with Stanford Taiko and Symphonic Chorus. Her works have been released on Centredisc and UMMUS and CRI's Emergency Series. She has been an Assistant Professor of Music at Stanford University in California since 1994.In Hui's notes she writes: "Rush was commissioned by the Vancouver Recital Society for the 1997 Vancouver Chamber Music Festival with financial assistance from the Canada Council. The work was completed during the early summer of 1997 while I was in residence at the Djerassi artist colony in Woodside, California. With the recent migration of virtuosic pipa players and composers from China to North America, there has been an explosion of contemporary music incorporating the Chinese lute. Among traditional Chinese instruments, the pipa's sound colour, playing techniques ad expressive potential lend themselves especially well to Western orchestral or string quartet instrumentations. I began work on this piece after renting a pipa and taking a few lessons on the instrument. What attracted me most were the flamenco guitar-like qualities of the instrument's most idiomatic techniques as well as its ability to inflect or bend pitches, an element also characteristic of Chinese speech. In order to develop a feel for the sound of the pipa, I listened to recordings and live performances of Classical Chinese pipa literature, which is predominantly diatonic in nature. Thus, I found it ironic that this two-movement work ended up containing some of the most chromatic passages in all my pieces."
[Note]: Melissa Hui’s “Rush” was premiered by Liu Fang with Ruggero Allifranchini (violins), KAI GLEUSTEEN
(Violin), NOKUTHULA NGWENYAMA (viola), YEGOR DYACHKOV (cello)
Cello at the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival on July 28, 1999.