Variety of perspectives


The solo piece is the best opportunity to showcase the unique beauty and charm of each instrument. Each instrument has its own range and playing technique. It will take you to discover the unique sound of each instrument, and it will take you to explore more possibilities for each instrument. 
It is about to be the start of an wonderful adventure.

Sea Wave

This work is a collaboration between composer Shuwen Liao and harpist Alyson Kanne in Contemporary Performance Program II: Composers-Performer Collaboration Project. 

Year: 2020 
Instrumentation: Solo Harp 
Duration: 6’50” 
Program Notes: 

Shuwen Liao, composer, writes: 

Sea wave, which is made of water, takes many forms. Sea Wave uses the unique timbre and playing techniques of the harp to represent different types of water. The floating characteristics of the wave is presented by the harmonics and the extended techniques of the harp. As the harmonics rise and fall, these hazy timbres are like floating, gentle water wave. After that, the harp breaks away from the hazy feeling, presents more flowing and shimmering water with its own timbre in different dynamics and rhythmic patterns, creating more legato and beautiful shapes of water. Finally, the harp, like a percussion instrument, has very powerful rhythmic gestures. From time to time, the harpist hits the strings in the low register, and the upper and lower registers switch between rapid rhythm and speed. Alternating chords and arpeggios give more strength, like the water wave in the continuous flapping, and constantly in the surges. There are occasional pauses that create a sudden silence, like the water wave breathing. After the quiet, the water wave, to more violent and more surging. 

Alyson Kanne, harpist, writes: 

Sea Wave begins calm and still, allowing listeners to bask in the resonance of the harp. As the piece develops, turbulence brews and intensifies, demanding an athletic performance from the harpist. During this fever pitch, resonance acts as a backdrop upon which increasingly vigorous and percussive sounds are introduced. A spectrum of color washes over the listener as resonance compounds resonance. In Sea Wave, Shuwen has utilized the full dynamic and melodic range of the harp whilst subverting an established tradition of bashful harp music about bodies of water. Like the force of nature it describes, Sea Wave is temperamental: sometimes serene, sometimes bombastic. Leave your Debussy nostalgia at the door and bear witness to the impetuous beauty of the harp.  

© Copyright 2022 Shuwen Liao - All rights reserved.

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