Tributes to Isang Yun

A composer cannot view the world in which he lives with indifference. Human suffering, oppression, injustice… all that comes to me in my thoughts. Where there is pain, where there is injustice, I want to have my say through my music. – Isang Yun, 1983“

Tributes to Isang Yun celebrates the centennial of composer Isang Yun’s birth in 2017. This extensive project includes commissioned works, international performances, and a recording production. Pianist Eunmi Ko collaborates with contemporary composers to develop a solo piano recital program, with each piece being commissioned for this particular project serving as a modern tribute to Isang Yun and his music. The project will showcase diverse styles of piano music and a variety of performances.

Aug 27 New Piano Collective, San Franisco Conservatory
Sep 16 Seoul Arts Center
Sep 22 EAFIT, Colombia
Oct 10 University of Richmond
Oct 19 University of South Florida
Feb 8 Hong Kong Baptist University

Christos Samaras
Ingrid Stolzel
John Liberatore
Seunghee Lee
Fabio Massimo Capogrosso
Eduardo Costa Roldan
Girolamo Deraco
Alejandro Roman
Marco Alunno
Mateo Soto


UNUS MUNDUS, Ingrid Stolzel
Unus Mundus was commissioned by pianist Eunmi Ko for the centennial celebration of Isang Yun’s birth. I have long been fascinated by Yun’s compositional technique of “Hauptton” (main tone) which one can hear in his piano solo piece Interludium A, with pitch-class “A” being a centering main tone. Every time I listened to Interludium A, I was struck by a section about five minutes into the composition where he indicates a meter for the first time. This section starts with a disarming B-Major triad, which gets reiterated the line below and suffused with quartal harmonies. I decided that this moment would become the soundworld that I would inhabit for my composition. I also felt that taking a moment in time as my inspiration aligns with Taoist philosophy, a strong influence on Yun’s music, in which the part is the whole and the whole is the part, and in which the dark and the light are intertwined with each other. I believe that music in its deepest expression has the power to fuse opposites to create oneness that cannot be fragmented, because as Carl Jung says “everything divided and different belongs to
one and the same world.” This concept, which Jung called “Unus Mundus” from Latin “One World,” seemed like a fitting title for a composition honoring Isang Yun.- Ingrid Stolzel

LINE DRAWINGS II, John Liberatore
A “drawing” suggests a two-dimensional space. It is an art form that enters the eye instantaneously, but one that the mind may comprehend more slowly. Jonathan Kramer wrote concerning an experience he called “vertical time,” likening certain musical experiences to the visual arts, saying:

“… we are free to walk around the piece, view it from many angles, concentrate on some details, see other details in relationship to each other ….”

Line Drawings is an ongoing collection of short piano pieces. I think of these pieces as drawings; they are meant to be immediate—that is two-dimensional, rather than linear. But at the same time, each piece is a continuous line of some kind. This second book of Line Drawings was commissioned by pianist Eunmi Ko as part of a tribute concert for the composer Isang Yun as part of a centenary celebration at the Seoul Arts Center in September 2017. The subject of line drawings seemed appropriate for this tribute to Yun because of his consistent interest in “Hauptönne,” a kind of living line that runs through nearly all of his music. In preparation for this piece, I spent a great deal of time immersed in Yun’s music, and though I haven’t drawn any material directly from the composer, I’m sure his imprint can be found in the score. This work is dedicated to Eunmi with gratitude and admiration. – John Liberatore

Imjing, Eduardo Costa Roldan
Imagine a river from it’s source to its end and the histories it carries. Think of the river Imjing that runs accros Korea. This river has been witness to many dramatic moments in history but it hasn’t always been like this. Imjing now divides what before was united. This piece uses groups of white keys against black keys to symbolize this division but the musical material is derived from the popular Korean song Arirang thus trying to send a message of unity and hope. This composition was commisioned and is dedicated to Korean born pianist Eunmi Ko.- Eduardo Costa Roldan

FLYING KITE, Seunghee Lee
(Flying Kite)을 띄우게 되면 그 연의 크기와 모양에 따라, 바람의 방향과 세기에 따라, 또는 연을 날리는 사람의 기술에 따라 각각의 연이 하늘에 떠있는 모습이 다르다. 연을 날린다는 행위는 여러가지 목적을 가지고 행해지는데 ‘놀이’와 ‘전쟁 신호’용으로 쓰임과 더불어 한국에서는 대보름날 액막이의 목적으로 연을 날려보내기도 했다. 피아노 솔로를 위한 ‘연’은 5개의 악장으로 구성되어있는데 각 악장에서 이러한 다양한 모습과 기원의 연이 하늘에서 때로는 자유롭게 날아다니는 모습을 묘사하고있다. 때로는 고요하게 또는 역동적으로 연이 움직이는 모습을 각 악장마다 특징있게 표현하고 있으며 각 악장에서는 연을 날리는 일차적인 목적 (놀이, 신호, 액막이)을 떠나 연을 날리는 행위와 연의 움직임을 객관적인 시각으로 바라보고 있다. 연을 날리는 사람의 마음속 한켠에는 ‘연 날리기’라는 행위를 통해 갈등과 고뇌를 연과 함께 날려보내기를 기원하지 않았을까 생각해본다.- 이승희

VARIATIONS, Marco Alunno
Variations is the seventh and last of a series of piano études I composed over the last few years. It is also the longest of them and reunites most of the piano techniques presented individually in the previous six études; therefore it is quite demanding. The title refers to the different situations which an incessant two-note motive goes through.- Marco Alunno

Prelude about a fragment by Isang Yun is based on a succession of chords in Isang Yun’s solo piano work Interludium A. Each one of these chords is characterized by the preparation (through inserting pencils between designated strings) of its highest note. I also try to give freedom to the performer by indicating ad liv for each arpeggio and tremolo. -Fabio Massimo Capogrosso

TIENTO DE BALLATA, Alejandro Roman
Tiento de Batalla
is born from the call for composition of pieces for piano proposed to different composers by the Korean pianist resident in US Eunmi Ko to commemorate the centenary of the birth of the South Korean composer Isang Yun (1917-­‐‑1995). (“Tribute to Isang Yun -­‐‑ Isang Yun Centennial Project”) I had long wanted to write a piano work from a “tiento de batalla” (“battle piece”) of a Spanish composer. In this work I used the initial melody of the “Tiento de Batalla 5o Tono Punto Baxo” by Juan Cabanilles (1644-­‐‑1712), which I make appear in the central part of the piece, starting from bar 76. A “tiento” is a piece for keyboard with a certain of virtuoso character of the Spanish music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that tries to exploit the possibilities of the instrument, being considered as an ancestor of the study, reason why I conceived the work as a study for the ten fingers based on arpeggios of chords that are repeated and are gradually changing within a somewhat minimalist style and with sonorities of rock in “moto perpetuo”. As a tribute to the South Korean composer, in measure 86 the arpeggio contains the six initial notes of the initial motif of Isang Yun’s “Symphony No. 3” treated by reduction in sixteenth notes. The piece is impregnated with pentatonic sonorities, scales much used in traditional Korean music. In short, it is a brilliant piece of virtuosity for the study of the equality of the five fingers of each hand. The work is dedicated to Isang Yun “in memoriam”- Alejandro Román, December 28, 2016

The piece uses as material the first measure of the fifth piece of “Fünf Stücke für Klavier” (1958) of Isang Yun. This measure is present both, in an explicit way and in the form of a series that it represents. The variations occur without solution of continuity.