Rain Tree (2011)

Instrumentation:

picc.2.2.2.2.  4.2.3.1. (timp. bd. crotales. vib. mar.) harp. strings

Duration: 12'

I – Breeze (with an air of freedom)

II – Rain (scherzando – stormy – scherzando – ascendere – celestial)

III – Leaves (con brio – scherzando – con brio – with an air of freedom – con brio)

 

Titled after Ho Poh Fun's poem Rain Tree, this work was inspired by the ubiquitous tropical tree that provides an oasis of greenery and shade in the urban landscape and tropical weather of Singapore. Depicted with keen imagination, the Singaporean poet captures the essence of nature rather sublimely, naturally igniting musical impressions within me. Each of the three movements in this work sketches a different perspective of the arborescent theme. 

 

Notably, the central movement is a musical portrait of the different types of rain we experience in sunny Singapore. Juxtaposed by a stormy middle section within, the humorous drizzle and dramatic rain-pour eventually yield to the vaporizing ascent and condensation into celestial clouds. The outer movements feature the subtle interaction between the tree and its surroundings, concluding with the glorious impression of “pinnate leaves proliferating.”

 

This work is musically informed by my study of two works at that point in time, Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

 

Rain Tree was commissioned and premiered by the National University of Singapore Symphony Orchestra in 2011, with conductors Lim Soon Lee and Foo Say Ming. The work was read by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Marin Alsop, and received the Japan premiere by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, which I had the great privilege of conducting. It was later awarded the Macht Orchestral Composition Prize by the Peabody Institute in 2013, culminating in the US premiere of the revised version by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra and music director Teri Murai.

 

The Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s performance of this work during their 2014-15 concert season under the baton of Lan Shui marks a momentous milestone of the first collaboration with the orchestra that I grew up listening to, an ensemble that is highly instrumental to my musical growth, and where my roots belong.

 

Reviews:

Review from The Straits Times: http://pianofortephilia.blogspot.com/2015/01/sso-concert-dangerous-liaison-review.html

Review from The Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/f93e1056-9fc7-11e4-9a74-00144feab7de

 

Review from Flying Inkpot: http://www.flyinginkpot.com/2015/01/concert-review-a-dangerous-liaison-ng-pei-sian-ng-pei-jee-jamie-hersch-victoria-concert-hall-16-jan-2015/