for children's piano four hands
In Seven Movements:
I. Baby Turtle Dance
II. Rock, Paper, Scissors
IV. Chirpy Birds
V. The Lone Ant
VI. Bike Ride
VII. The Flight of the Chopsticks
May 2017, Taplin Auditorium, Princeton
Pianori was written for my adorable twin nieces Eun Yul and Eun So who recently turned eight. They have been enthusiastically playing the piano for the past two years. I wanted to give them some sweet little works they might enjoy playing or listening to.
The first—“Baby Turtle Dance”—is a slow waltz. The hands overlap to create strange chords, and lyrical tunes emerge from them. The second—“Rock, Paper, Scissors”—is played with the respective hand shapes: fist, palm, and the “V sign.” It is music that is as much about the physical act of playing as the resultant sound. The third—“Arirang"—is a contrapuntal setting of the Korean traditional tune Arirang, treasured in both North and South Koreas. I superimposed another tune from 1947 by a Korean composer An Byung-En, 우리의 소원은 통일 (“Our Hope is the Reunification”), that expresses the dream of a peaceful reunification of the country divided by the brutal war. The fourth—“Chirpy Birds”—develops birdsong-inspired motives. These are wacky imaginary birds with a wide vocal range and capricious expressions. The fifth—“The Lone Ant”—was inspired by an ant that crawled right next to me while I was laying on the floor during yoga. It was alone but seemed quite hopeful in its meandering search. One step of an ant involves moving three of its six legs. All chords in this movement have six notes; and they take steps, three at a time. The sixth—“Bike Ride”—was inspired by my friend Andrew Burnson’s solo piano piece with the same title. Bike rides are fun and relaxing, but sometimes they can be dramatic and dangerous. Two chopsticks on the piano create the sounds that mimic bicycle’s bells and chains. The last movement—“The Flight of the Chopsticks”—is a reworking of the well-known Chopsticks, with some influence from Steve Reich’s Piano Phase. Unlike the original Chopsticks, the bottom part also stays true to the idea of chopsticks; just one line, played often by just two fingers.