Series - Dorothy Chang

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Dorothy Chang

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  • 2018 - 2019 (Creation)
    Creator
    Chang, Dorothy

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4.5cm of textual records

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(1970 -)

Biographical history

Dr. Dorothy Chang was born in Winfield, Illinois in 1970. She began her music studies on piano at age six and began composition at age fourteen. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music from the University of Michigan and her doctorate in Music from Indiana State University. She has previously served on the music faculty at Indiana State and, since 2003, has been a Professor of Music and Composition at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

Her work often reflects the eclectic mix of musical influences from her youth, including popular music, folk music, and elements of traditional Chinese music. Additionally, much of her music is inspired by place, time, memory, and personal histories. Her total catalog includes over seventy works for solo, chamber, and large ensembles as well as collaborations involving theatre, dance, and video. Her interest in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration has led to projects including a radio play adaptation of Gertrude Stein’s White Wines for four vocalists and speaking percussionist, several mixed chamber ensemble works for Chinese and Western instruments, and a collaboration with choreographer Yukichi Hattori and four other composers in the large-scale True North Symphonic Ballet premiered in 2017 by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Most recently, she composed a new double concerto for erhu (Chinese fiddle) and piano, which premiered in 2018 by the Piano-Erhu Project and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

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Scope and content

Series consists of final scores, edited scores, notes, and a musical program related to Dorothy Chang’s composition Gateways: Double Concerto for Erhu and Piano. Gateways was commissioned by Nicole Ge Li and Corey Hamm of the Piano-Erhu Project (PEP). Players of the erhu and piano, respectively, they began PEP as a means of exploring the tonal, musical, and cultural blends between two iconic Eastern and Western instruments.

For her addition to PEP’s mission, Chang wrestled for some time with how she might address the issue of ‘east meets west,’ especially given the solo instruments’ highly distinct and disparate sonic characteristics, performance practices, and musical traditions. Gradually, the piece evolved as a patchwork of musical fragments, moments, and memories gathered from her own multicultural experiences as a first-generation Chinese American, a Western expatriate living in Taiwan, and now an immigrant to Canada. Woven into the three movements are references to a 90’s Chinese pop song, a children’s rhyme, opulent Romanticism, American minimalism, and other influences both subtle and not. The title refers to a Tang Dynasty poem that depicts a gateway as both an opportunity and a barrier, reflecting a deep yearning for a faraway time, place, or memory.

The world premiere of the full orchestral version of Gateways: Double Concert for Erhu and Piano was on March 3rd, 2019 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington. It was conducted by Julia Tai and performed by PEP and the Philharmonia Northwest.

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