Breath of Life by Chun-Wai Wong
Winner of the 2015 BCMCC
March 26th, 2016
University of Michigan
Britton Recital Hall
Nancy Ambrose King, oboe
Jeffrey Lyman, bassoon
Christina Adams, violin
Kathryn Votapek, viola
Scott Pingel, bass
Music available at:
Imagine Music Publishing
TrevCo Varner Music
What is life for? Wealth? Power? Happiness? Are you really feeling happy with your pursuits? Or would you just go on chasing endlessly? Do you really feel happy while chasing? And what have you got at the end of your life?
“I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving afterwind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
The piece is philosophically inspired by the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and musically inspired by a traditional Japanese theatrical performance “Kabuki”. It is a purelymusical “theatre.” The piece unfolds with the wheezing of hollowness of work and life, and it is followed by a wild dance of chasing—a chasing of fame and
fortune that leads one to get rid of the depression. Yet, the struggling brings just fleeting pleasure, and a pressing anxiety for chasing another goal. Feeling exhausted, one realizes that what have done are all meaningless: the hollowness never leaves. Only after a hoarse cry does one start to realize the meaning of life, a
meaning that transcends all materialistic goals; and only after understanding the reason to live can one take a breath of life.
There are references to traditional Japanese instrumental writings, including the sound of Shamisen imitated by pizzicato in strings, drum imitated by pizzicato chords and beating of strings on fingerboard, Japanese flute imitated by the high oboe. On the other hand, the shifting focus between different musical layers
represents the movement of the imaginary dancer who continuously moves forward and backward on the stage.
“A Breath of Life” is commissioned by the Hong Kong Composers' Guild.