Music traditions of Korea, China, and Japan, convene on-stage as part of a cultural exchange concert, that extends the 20th Anniversary celebrations of Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival. Program includes an introduction by Soo Yeon Lyuh, a collaboration by pipa players and composers Sophia Shen and Shenshen Zhang, and bamboo shakuhachi performance by Cornelius Boots. The show will also serve as Cornelius’s release of his newest album.
FIRST ACT: SOO YEON LYUH
Soo-Yeon Lyuh, Thingamajigs' first Resident Artist, opens the Pacific Exchange edition of 20th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs' Festival.
Soo Yeon Lyuh is a master of the haegeum, a two-stringed Korean bowed instrument. She possesses not only flawless technique and a full command of the haegeum’s traditional repertoire, but is also widely recognized for promoting the creation of new pieces for haegeum. For twelve years, Lyuh was a member of South Korea’s National Gugak Center, the foremost institution for the preservation of Korean traditional music. Since then, Lyuh has endeavored to weave authentic styles into new musical domains, relocating to the Bay Area and drawing inspiration from its dynamic improvised music scene. Her contributions have sparked the creation of new repertoire for haegeum—the lifeblood of any instrument. She has premiered dozens of new works and recently made her debut as a composer with the Kronos Quartet.
SECOND ACT: SOPHIA SHEN AND SHENSHEN ZHANG
Sophia Shen and Shenshen Zhang, two master pipa players and composers collaborate to create a piece for this year’s Pacific Exchange.
Born in Zhangzhou, a small city in southeast China, Sophia Shen is a composer, sound artist, pipa performer/ improviser and pianist who believes in the subjective, evocative, conceptual and ineffable nature of music and sound. She makes intangible connections with performers and listeners by creating music that evokes memory and imagination. She is interested in bridging the divide between cultures by using instruments to dissemble and synthesize new sounds.
Sophia is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College where she also studied composition and improvisation. She received a BA degree in Music with High Distinction and a BA degree in German from the University of Virginia.
A native of Wenzhou, China, Shenshen Zhang began playing the pipa at the age of nine. At thirteen, she auditioned and was accepted into the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where in 1992, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree. In 2005, Ms Zhang received Master’s Degree in Musicology from Xiamen University. As an award-inning concert soloist, she performed and toured extensively through-ut Asia and the U.S. Since making her home in SF Bay Area in 2006, Ms. Zhang has combined her lengthy performance career and her vast experience as an educator, preserving the musical heritage of China while also exploring other world cultures.
THIRD ACT: CORNELIUS BOOTS
Concert / Album Release
Woodwind pioneer and award-winning composer-performer Cornelius Boots (MM, Shihan) reveals the earthy, soulful and energetic qualities of the jinashi (raw, unlacquered) shakuhachi and its baritone brother, Taimu. Shakuhachi is a root-end bamboo flute from ancient Japan where it was used by wandering monks and samurai as a breath meditation tool—and weapon.
Cornelius performs a 20-minute solo set, collaborate and improvise with Sophia and Soo-yeon and answer questions from the audience. This concert is the official album release show for Bamboo Rising (Shakuhachi Unleashed Vol. II).
Trained in the concentration arts from the age of 6, Boots' love affair with reeds and bamboo began at age 9. He has been active internationally and professionally in jazz, rock, funk, classical, experimental and new music since 1990. The robot bass clarinet, heavy chamber music/bass clarinet quartet and bamboo gospel are all Boots’ discoveries of original, creative explorations and artistic dedication. He is a licensed master (shihan) in the dynamic Zen lineage of Watazumido since 2013; his shakuhachi name is 深禅 (Shinzen) deep Zen. Boots studied shakuhachi with Grandmaster Michael Chikuzen Gould, jazz history and composition with David N. Baker and earned three degrees from the renowned Jacobs School of Music (BM Clarinet ’97, BS Audio ’97, MM Jazz Studies ’99).
He has released over 20 albums as a leader, written over 100 original woodwind and chamber compositions and performed in Italy, Switzerland, Japan and across North America. He is known as the founder and leader of the world’s only bass clarinet quartet, Edmund Welles (1996-2015). Boots has received grants, commissions and awards from Chamber Music America, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Areon Flutes, International Clarinet Association and more.
After a 30-year career of high-caliber music activities, in 2015 Boots officially merged this career with his 15-year shakuhachi path and positioned himself at the crossroads of personal expression and divine revelation and only performs on bamboo. He also studies and teaches Zen and Taoism online through Buddha Dharma University.
Bamboo Rising (Shakuhachi Unleashed Vol. II) : Album Release
Features solo classic rock shakuhachi: virtuosic nature hymns and anthems. New, original compositions and unlikely arrangements of Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Roky Erickson, Dio, Black Sabbath and more, all played on the unadorned, 5-hole, no mouthpiece, 100% bamboo (jinashi) shakuhachi—the robust woodwind of Zen Buddhism—and its baritone brother, Taimu. After Holy Flute, Bamboo Rising is the second album in the Shakuhachi Unleashed album trilogy, a showcase for the solo bamboo gospel style, an advanced woodwind performance style rooted in 20th century Black American music (gospel, blues, jazz, soul, R&B, funk, rock), heavy metal and solo Zen Buddhist nature hymns.
The 2018 Bamboo Rising World Tour will include concerts in London at the World Shakuhachi Festival, Xalapa, Mexico at the World Bamboo Congress and in Denmark at the Fanø Free Folk Festival.