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Twin Cinema (2022)
for string nonet


string nonet (double string quartet and contrabass)

Duration: 11'

Commissioned by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), Twin Cinema is written for the Stradivari Quartet and musicians of the SSO for its chamber series (16 April 2022). The concept of the work is based on the Singaporean poetic form of twin cinema, where two separate columns of poetry may be read separately, or across, as a single poem. A well-known twin cinema poem is ‘Two Voices’, penned by the then 13-year-old Janine Shum, about a double narrative contrasting the lives and voices of an Afghan girl and a Singaporean girl.

I have taken inspiration from Dr. Sara Florian’s poem ‘The Lost Seasons’. A poem that weaves together the twin cinema form with the pantun, while depicting two concurrent coming-of-age stories: a Venetian countryside boy contrasted with a Singaporean kampung boy. Florian conjures the passage of time, effects of the changing climate, and the counterpoint between the rustic and the urban, navigating between the East and the West.

Musically, I have taken a slightly cinematic and eclectic approach, exploring and maintaining two strands of narratives between the two quartets. The pair of quartets are placed in a ‘stereo’ antiphony, and their musical strands coexist in sometimes complementary, and at times surreal juxtapositions of moods and characters in this imaginary duet of ‘cinematic’ scores. Throughout, the contrabass acts as the central pillar that support the narratives on both sides.

Read the interview by Aileen Tang on The Flying Inkpot - Seeing Double – An Interview with Chen Zhangyi

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