Contemporary Chinese–American pianist Jenny Q Chai presents a multi–sensory program that takes audiences on an emotional journey looking for the “Chopin” inside each one of us. The program opens with a poetic Chopin nocturne, followed by a virtuosic etude quoting Chopin waltz by contemporary American composer Ryan Francis, finishing with a large–scale audiovisual work by Polish composer and Stanford University Music Department Chair, Jaroslaw Kapuściński: Where is Chopin?.
Kapuściński’s Where is Chopin? is a performance installation that examines the perceptions and emotions on the faces of people around the world as they listen to Chopin’s Preludes Op. 28. These expressions are shown with re–composed essences of the music. Kapuściński says, “To obtain the images, I travelled to 12 cities around the world to hold listening sessions with volunteers. In each country I collaborated with a local photographer or cinematographer. For me, the piece is almost a social experiment: Are the reactions different by culture, or are they different by gender or generation? How does music touch people from completely different backgrounds, professions and cultures?” Through the many facial expressions examined during the work’s video installation, Where is Chopin? acts as a contemporary opera in today’s digital era.
Jenny Q Chai & Friends from the New York Philharmonic
Limited Tour: April 6 – 12, 2021
Visionary pianist Jenny Q Chai joins forces with New York Philharmonic musicians Quan Ge (violin), Jason You (violin), Cong Wu (viola), and Nathan Vickery (cello) in a program that explores connecting threads in classical music lineage – from Romanticism to the present.
Jenny Q Chai (piano) with New York Philharmonic musicians Quan Ge (violin), Jason Yu (violin), Cong Wu (viola), and Nathan Vickery (cello)
Robert Schumann – Piano Quintet, Op. 44
– Intermission –
Steve Reich – Clapping Music
Andy Akiho – Prepared Piano Quintet “The War Below”
The friendship between pianist Jenny Q Chai and New York Philharmonic violinist Qun Ge blossomed during their teenage years studying at Philadelphia’s renowned Curtis Institute of Music. Now, both internationally recognized performers in their respective fields, the two friends realized that they’d never performed on stage together, and noted the very different paths they’d each taken to get to where they are today, Quan being a long–term tenured violinist at the New York Philharmonic and Jenny being a contemporary solo pianist who programs daring concerts, mostly featuring living composers and modern technology. Although both musicians live and work in completely different musical environments, the two musicians have always admired and respected each other’s differences and strengths.
Developed during a conversation at the iconic Magnolia Bakery in New York City, The War Below highlights the similarities between classical western art music and contemporary classical music, as well as the way in which the two genres and the two long time friends complement one another. Andy Akiho’s music employs both rhythm and polarizing emotions, while Reich’s Clapping Music uses only rhythm for impact and Schumann’s piano quintet emphasizes extreme musicality and emotions.
Jenny’s master classes are of a two-fold nature. On the one hand, they reflect what Jenny learned in her D.M.A. pedagogy class from the Manhattan School of Music, directed by Dr. Marjean Olson, plus the influences of many great artists who gave master classes weekly at Curtis when Jenny was there for seven years. Along with these American approaches to the master class, Jenny includes a European perspective influenced by her last teacher, contemporary pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who has a unique way of teaching and analyzing music. Taking the best of both worlds, Jenny brings out new and unexpected facets of both pieces and performers.
In this casual post-concert discussion, presenters and audiences ask Jenny about anything related to music and her performances. Past discussion topics have included specific questions raised by the pieces on the program, Jenny’s motivations for specific program choices, her reasons for playing with iPad scores instead of printed music scores, and many more. Jenny also asks the audience questions about their experience of the music, seeking for ways to articulate and enhance the event as a whole.
In this lecture/recital, Jenny Q Chai discusses the structure and possibilities for interpretation of piano études by Debussy, “Pour les quartes” and “Pour les huit doigts,” and Ligeti, No.1 “Désordre” and No. 2 “Cordes à vide.” Both sets of études by Debussy and Ligeti are among the most important musical contributions in the 20th century, as well as cornerstone pieces in the modern piano repertoire. This lecture/recital also features expansive demonstration from the keyboard, and is enhanced visually by projection of passages from the scores.
In this groundbreaking mixture of academic exposition, music, and theater, Jenny Q Chai wears a lab coat and “dissects Stroppa,” in particular his recent works “Innige Cavatina” and “Ninnananna” from the collection, Miniature Estrose. Chai met the composer Marco Stroppa in Darmstadt, Germany five years ago, and she was immediately enthralled by his music. This lecture-recital first took place as part of Chai’s D.M.A. thesis and dissertation on Stroppa.
This casual talk is meant to engage and inspire music students, as Chai shares her personal stories and insight into the following topics:
• Career management in the 21st Century
• Music Business
• The Human-Computer Relationship
• Mastering the Art of Creative Programming
Schumann – Chopin from Carnaval
Satie – Gymnopedie Mvt. 1
Debussy – Prelude, La fille aux cheveux de lin
Debussy – Prelude, Feux d’artifice
Debussy – Etude, Pour les huit doigts
Schoenberg – Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11, No. 3
Webern – Variations for Piano, Op. 27, No. 2
Andy Akiho – Response Pieces I Homage a Webern: Transparency
Ives – Concord Sonata, Mvt. 3 “Alcotts”
Ives – Song, Dream
Ives – Song, Memories
Stockhausen – Klavierstuck VIII
Messiaen – Catalogue D’oiseaux: VIII. L’Alouette Calandrelle
Ligeti – Musica Ricercata No. 1 and No. 7
Kurtág– “Quiet Talk with the Devil” from Jatekok: Les Andieux
Cage – The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs
Akiho – Synesthesia Suite Karekurenai (Crimson) for prepared piano
Annie Gosfield – Brooklyn, Oct. 5, 1941
Richard Sussman – Spirit Guide
Inspired by her radio shows at Shanghai Media Group 94.7FM, which is broadcast to over 2 million Chinese listeners, Jenny Q Chai draws a musical map for modern audiences, tracing the history of how contemporary music comes from distinguished predecessors, and how geographical regions and cultural aesthetics in music influence and react to each other. The program is a guided listening tour for those who have insatiable musical curiosity about the evolution of music.
Debussy – Douze études, No. 3, Pour les quartes
Debussy – No. 6, Pour les huit doigts
Debussy – Préludes Book II, No. 11, Les tierces alternées
Debussy – No.12, Feux d’artifice
Frédéric Durieux – Pour tous ceux qui tombent—Hommage à RAVEL
Ravel – Oiseux tristes
Messiaen – Cantéyodjayâ
Jarosław Kapuściński – Calligraphies for ZiQi
Kapuściński – Side Effects
Just as painters and visual artists employ the vast range of colors in the chromatic spectrum, composers and performers use the endless sonic spectrum to create and evoke musical worlds. As a pianist and an amateur painter, Jenny Q Chai has discovered a personal form of synesthesia—a melding of senses—in regard to how I experience music. This all–French program presents repertoire that truly lives at the intersection of color and sound, exploring this meeting of the senses. While practicing and preparing each piece of music, Chai seeks to translate her mental imagery into the real world, both through musical performance and on canvas.
In order to fully realize this program, Jenny Q Chai completed a four–month residency at Cité des Arts in Paris, where she worked simultaneously on the musical performance and the paintings of each score. In the 2019–2020 season, Jenny tours with the results of this process, offering a simultaneous performance of music and display of her visual art, united for the audience, just as they are in Jenny’s own personal experience.
Fittingly, the repertoire of this program pays homage to the most important French composers of the Impressionistic era, the period of musical innovation that is perhaps most strongly tied to a corresponding visual artistic movement. Watch Jarosław Kapuściński’s Side Effects: https://youtu.be/svRZPGElRVw
piano, multimedia & climate data
Jenny Q Chai brings science into the concert hall with this striking new project, featuring video representations of climate change data from the research of Dr. Ian Fenty, along with digital paintings by Relja Penezic. The program moves rapidly through musical history, telling a tale of our changing oceans along the way.
Jenny Q Chai‘s “Acqua Alta (High Water)” performance collaboration with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories scientist Dr. Ian Fenty focuses on global warming and its effects on the Earth’s oceans. The music on this program showcases the piano’s full range of expression, from exquisite nuance to bold gesture, as well as a wide range of musical understandings of water dating from both before and after the emergence of global climate change.
The performance also includes sound and video installations based on global warming data curated by Dr. Fenty. The effect of global warming on water has been Fenty’s field of specialization for years, and he offers talks such as “Global Sea Level Rise” and “A Shrinking Polar Ice Cap” alongside the performance centerpiece. In addition, some pieces on the program are paired with the digital paintings of artist Relja Penezic, all of which are related to water. A narrative unfolds over the course of the performance, at first showing the tranquility of water and of humanity living harmoniously with it, then gradually showing a breakdown of that harmony in an increasingly industrialized world, and a troubling of the delicate balance that oceanic life requires.
The first piece of the program, by Victoria Jordanova, is performed alongside the beautiful digital artwork of Relja Penezic. Tangata Manu (or “bird man”) from Marco Stroppa’s Miniature Estrose considers an old custom of the inhabitants of Easter Island, a race to swim across a dangerous stretch of water and retrieve an egg of the migratory sooty tern, thereby winning the coveted title of “tangata manu” for the year to come. La cathédrale engloutie by Debussy and Face of the Deep by Theodore Wiprud meditate further on the power and mystery of water. Wiprud’s piece, written for this project, comes from the point of view of a fisherman who is fascinated by water’s many forms and inhabitants. Orlando Gibbons’s Allemande (Italian Ground) pairs again with Penezic’s painting, this time with a large ship traveling on the ocean. One almost hears in Gibbons’s piece the music emanating from a luxury salon deep within the ship’s hull. The mood grows more precarious with Liszt’s La lugubre gondola and Milica Paranosic’s Bubble (in trouble). One can obviously hear the “trouble” which the ocean faces as the concert’s first half ends.
The second half starts with Kurtág’s Shadow-play, and “Ninnananna,” also from Marco Stroppa’s Miniature Estrose, which foreshadow the terrible changes which the oceans will soon have to undergo. Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata is a dramatic works that syncs with the videos of Fenty’s global warming data. In Musica Ricercata No. 7, the right hand sings a nostalgic and beautiful melody over an insistent, almost mechanical background provided by the left, evoking the division of the half-humanized, half-mechanized 21st century. Musica Ricercata No. 1 is a piece built on rhythm and rising intensity rather than tonal variation, and is performed alongside visual representation of climate data showing the Earth’s oceans overheating in recent years. The program finishes with a three-part audio/visual piece by Cole Ingraham written for the project, utilizing much of Fenty’s data as well as a dramatic half-improvised piano part and electronics.
Works to be performed on the “Acqua Alta (High Water)” program include:
two-piano concerti and recital offerings
Concert pianists Jenny Q Chai and Adam Kośmieja combine forces to offer two-piano works defined by energy, vitality, and dynamism. Offerings include concerto repertoire as well as curated recital programs.
Concerto Repertoire for Two Pianos
Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969), Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (1966)
Kazimierz Serocki (1922-1981), Forte e piano, for two pianos and orchestra (1967)
Luciano Berio (1925-2003), Concerto for Two Pianos (1973)
Alfred Schnittke (1934-1988), Concerto for Piano Four Hands and Chamber Orchestra (1988)
Péter Eötvös (b. 1944), Konzert für zwei Klaviere (2007)
Philippe Manoury (b. 1952), Zones de turbulences, for two pianos and orchestra (2012)
World War I and World War II had an enormous impact on every aspect of life in the 20th century. European music from that period represents a wide spectrum of independent voices that in different ways expressed their inner struggle.
The first half of the recital focuses on the music for piano four hands written before and during the early years of World War I. Some composers had direct contact with what was happening: Paderewski was very active politically during WWI and became a Prime Minister in order to fight for his native Poland and its freedom; Ravel fought for his country and joined the Artillery Regiment as a lorry driver, supplying munitions at night under heavy German bombardment.
The second half of the program consists of compositions for two pianos written during and after World War II. The aftermath of the Second World War was especially turbulent in Eastern Europe, where recovery from the devastation of war took place under the thumb of the Communist regime. In a climate of extreme censorship, art was one of the few vehicles for critique and free expression.
This program is structured to allow the listener to hear the variety of musical styles and approaches during this period.
Works to be performed on the “Composers that Lived through the World Wars” program include:
The “Breaking Conventions” program features two masterpieces that changed the course of the music history. The recital opens with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. In the context of the duo-piano literature – much of which consists of arrangements of symphonic works – it is easy to think of the Rite of Spring reduction as a stripped-bare version of the original orchestral work. But in fact, this is the original. It’s not a paint-by-numbers copy of the oil masterpiece; it’s the blueprint, the foundation on which the architecture was built. The piano’s homogeneity of color gives listeners an easier point of entry to the work’s complicated harmonies and polyrhythms, offering a glimpse into the mind of the composer as he crafted one of the most important works of the 20th century.
The second half of the program is a complete shift, like moving from a Francisco Goya canvas to contemplate one of Kandinsky’s paintings. Boulez’s Structures are the ultimate masterpieces in their use of the integral serialism (wherein many parameters of a piece’s construction are governed by serial principles, rather than only pitch). The composer himself wrote about the work that he wanted to “eradicate from my vocabulary absolutely every trace of the conventional, whether it concerned figures and phrases, or development and form; I then wanted gradually, element after element, to win back the various stages of the compositional process, in such a manner that a perfectly new synthesis might arise, a synthesis that would not be corrupted from the very outset by foreign bodies – stylistic reminiscences in particular.” Boulez’s revolutionary techniques to achieve unique sonorities results in an expressive, living work.
These two masterpieces are connected by their break with outmoded compositional models, and above all by their eschewing of Romanticism of any kind.
Works to be performed on the “Breaking Conventions” program include:
Concerto for Disklavier Piano, Orchestra, and Visual Projection
Jenny Q Chai
A collaboration between composer Jaroslaw Kapuscinski and photographer/videographer Kacper Kowalski for pianist Jenny Q Chai. Using a Yamaha Disklavier concert grand and intelligent score following technology the pianist controls the flow of the prerecorded and pre-edited visuals stored on a computer and projected on a wide screen behind the orchestra.
Using a Yamaha Disklavier concert grand and intelligent score following technology the pianist controls the flow of the prerecorded and pre-edited visuals stored on a computer and projected on a wide screen behind the orchestra.
Sensus is a Latin word for feeling, thought, and emotion. The imagery of the piece depicts machinery in industrial sites in six movements / tableaux. In an aerial view 200 feet above ground the perception of scrapheaps at metalworks, mining conveyors, rail crossovers, factory construction and agricultural equipment shifts to a poetic mode. Imbued through music with a full spectrum of emotions one can imagine machines being alive. Are they sad or pensive? Tired or hesitant? The musical form also gives them an unexpected, different sense of purpose. The themes and orchestration inspired by traditional classical repertoire and performed by instruments developed over centuries refers viewers back to the technological and artistic mastery of the past. The trajectory from steam machines to AI finds its analog in the traditional ensemble being augmented through the use of a Disklavier and computer programming.
Machines augment and replace humans. Perhaps there are no more people. What is the purpose of work, creation and existence?
Duration: 25 – 30 minutes
In this visually illustrated lecture, the photographer recounts the experience of coming down to earth after 20 years with head in the clouds and flying the paraglider. What keys does photography hold in his experiencing of space and the world?
Can we see traces of Chopin’s music in faces of its listeners? What do their facial expressions reveal? To answer these questions Kapuscinski traveled through five continents and video recorded over 150 listeners of diverse ages, genders, and professions. The resulting work invites viewers to relive some of the unique encounters. Aided by Artificial Intelligence technology the pianist controls the flow of videos and recreates the connections between music and what the volunteers experienced. The lecture tells the story of the project, demonstrates fragments and explains the use of Artificial Intelligence.
“A more beautiful document on the power of music is hard to imagine” Max Nyffeler, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.
The internationally shown and award-winning work of photographer Kacper Kowalski can be exhibited with the assistance of local photo or art galleries. It can include his photographic works as well as video presentation of Side Effects, a collaboration between Kowalski and Kapuscinski that was commission by 2017 Spoleto USA Festival. The soundtrack was recorded by Jenny Q Chai.
What do Celtic illuminated manuscripts, Gertrude Stein’s poetry, Hiroshige’s ukiyo-e, and Gary Hills videos have in common? The lecture explores how artists from different epochs and continents mastered abstraction, paradox, and error to captivate their audiences.
Many contemporary composers venture outside music to create for concert goers new kinds of experiences. Often using new technologies, their compositions use combinations of images, words, and music to enthrall, question and entertain in novel ways. Kapuscinski discusses the underpinnings of this practice illustrating it with excerpts from his works. Together with Chai they demonstrate and discuss a new kind of virtuosity that is enabled by interactive computer technology and artificial intelligence.
Jenny Q Chai and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski
Pianist Jenny Q Chai integrates her scientific and artistic curiosity with her new project, Calligraphy for Ziqi. She partnered with intermedia composer Jaroslaw Kapuscinski on all-Kapuscinski program in which the piano, in collaboration with the artificial intelligence program Antescofo, is used to control multimedia content.
The program Humanity First-We Are All In This Together is a strong reflection during this pandemic period. It includes themes of global warming and Covid-19 responses.
With the world going more and more divided and nationalistic over the last few years, in a strange way, the pandemic is almost like a reset button by nature, to remind us that we are all in this together.
Globally, we are all experiencing very similar circumstances, such as quarantine life, the lack of PPE and basic needs for survival, the lack of in person contact, the lack of jobs and security, the fears of uncertainty and the yearning for health, security, love and connection.
Globally, we are experiencing the same kind of difficulties, and yet trying to survive, to adapt, to thrive and to hold on to hope. It is a heightened time for us to remember to unite together as earthlings. We must take care of our earth, global health systems, global strategizing, communications and plannings, in order to survive together. We much work together to slow down the global warming, and to create a safer environment for the whole world to live in. During this pandemic, it is even more so the chance to reveal the perseverance of humans beings as a race.
The earthlings will prevail, if we stay together!
For many years, I have been creating thematic programs for issues to reflect our current society, such as my global warming program Acqua Alta with NASA data visualizations. Last year, I gave a TEDx talk on when Classical Music Meets Technology, which is essentially what I do as a pianist. Over the years, I asked myself, what’s the true purpose of being an artist, a performing artist? Art needs to reflect the current state of our world, and to raise awareness in people about social issues. It’s something an artist could do to make a difference!
The pandemic and climate change can be looked at as scientific topics, yet they are also extremely human experiences. We are all living with it, enduring it and in the same, trying to find ways to improve it.
The neuroscientist António R. Damásio wrote in his book, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, “Emotions and the feelings are not a luxury, they are a means of communicating our states of mind to others. But they are also a way of guiding our own judgments and decisions. Emotions bring the body into the loop of reason.”
In other words, modern science has discovered, emotion is an even more powerful way to drive our decisions.
Music moves people on an emotional level, beyond logic. That is why I believe my program will make an impact on the audiences who go to the performance.
On top of that, I have incorporated visual elements throughout the program, including NASA data visualizations. Visual stimulation is the primary sense of humans. Thus, I believe, my audiovisual program will have an even bigger force to impact the audiences.
I would like to invite the audiences to participate in an improvisation event, bringing any instrument they have, and newspaper articles about the pandemic and climate change.
I would like to have audiences organized in groups, each group sharing some personal experiences with these topics, and determine one main emotion.
Then, I will conduct an improvised performance with the groups, with the pre-determined emotions and orders. With predesigned parameters, audiences will have the freedom to choose the key words they would like to say, sing, or hum, and play the instruments they bring. For my conducting, I will need to have a piano, a bell, and a toy piano possibly. We will truly celebrate the moment form of performing art together, expressing our feelings and wishes on these pressing social issues.
Jenny Q Chai is pleased to offer the following concerti:
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Marco Stroppa (b. 1959)
Upon a Blade of Grass (1996)
Matthew Aucoin (b. 1990)
Piano Concerto (2016 – general availability fall 2018)
Philippe Manoury (b. 1952)
Zones de turbulences (2013, with pianist Adam Kośmieja)
Peter Eötvös (b. 1944)
CAP-KO (Concerto for Acoustical Piano, Keyboard and Orchestra) (2005)
Esa-Pekka Salonen (b. 1958)
Piano Concerto (2007)
Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15
Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor (Op. 25)
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