Slant (2018) for orchestra
3(picc.), 2+E.h., 2+B.Cl., 2+C.b.; 4,3,3,1; Timp.+3; Hp.; Pno./Cel.; Str.
Premiere: 5/27/17; Carnegie Hall, NY; New York Youth Symphony; Michael Repper, conductor
Recognition: - ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize - Special Distinction
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“Mother. I miss you. I am hungry. I want to go back to my birthplace.”
Etched in Korean, this phrase sets the solemn tone on the frontispiece of Dictee (1982), a book by Korean-American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951–1982). Trilingual in English, Korean, and French, Cha spent her formative years earning 4 degrees at UC Berkeley following her family’s exile to the U.S. due to the Japanese occupation of Korea. This led to her pioneering a fledging and uniquely Korean-American voice, cut short after a brutal attack in NYC a week after the release of her now critical work.
The outer movements refer to a fragment from Dictee illustrating her mother’s desire and hesitation to speak when, under Japanese occupation, she was forbidden from ever speaking her mother tongue. The seemingly incongruous middle movement is an homage to Sea Interludes from Benjamin Britten’s opera, Peter Grimes—a tale which Britten describes simply as “a subject very close to my heart—the struggle of the individual against the masses.” The outer movements explore the reduction, deterioration, and displacement of the interlude material to its component parts—themes and techniques Cha frequented in her own body of work.