Glittering Across the Ocean (彼岸星潭): for orchestra (2018)

commissioned by Taiwan Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra | NSO 國家交響樂團委託創作

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Program Note:

Glittering Across the Ocean compiles my impressions and imaginations about the ocean as well as conveys the nostalgia and concern I feel for Taiwan while living across the Pacific in West Coast of the United States. To me, the ocean is one of the most intimate Taiwanese images. Born and bred in Hualien, and studying in the Bay Area in recent years, I have long lived in coastal cities and closely perceived many features of the ocean. In the poem “Manuscript in the Bottle,” Yang Mu compares his homesickness to surging waves: “when I set my foot in the ocean…/ will Hualien, oh Hualien in June / start a rumor of a tsunami?” Like the poet, I grew up in Hualien and studied in Berkeley; this poem deeply touches me.

This piece starts with diverse images of the ocean, its starlit splendor, its billowing tides, its shimmering waves on the ocean surface. In a different perspective, if I watch my distant hometown from the Bay Area, the tiny motions of waves on this shore might possibly cause a great tsunami or earthquake on the other shore. Through a shifting of perspectives from one shore to the other, I employ harmonics, trills, vibrations, resonances, subtle but complex textural and timbral changes, not only to represent shimmering waves and surging tsunamis, but also to shape dramatic fluctuations and transitions between the two scenarios.

In the process of composing this piece, a violent earthquake severely hit Hualien on 6 February 2018. I’d like to dedicate this piece to the ocean and the people in my hometown in token of my blessing for them, whether I am on this shore or on the other shore of the Pacific.


〈彼岸星潭〉彙集了我對海洋的印象與想像,是我在美國西岸隔著太平洋對彼岸故鄉的遙望與關注。海洋是我最親近的台灣意象之一。生長於花蓮,在關渡求學,而今旅居美國舊金山灣區, 我長年生活在臨海城市,感受到海洋的許多面貌。詩人楊牧在〈瓶中稿〉一詩中,將他對故鄉的思念比喻成一波波洶湧的浪:「當我涉足入海 / …不知道六月的花蓮啊花蓮 / 是否又謠傳海嘯?」同樣在花蓮出生,在柏克萊求學,我對此詩感觸甚深。

我以太平洋沿岸的七星潭為題,借「星潭」兩字字義衍生出星輝斑斕的海洋意象,描繪海面的閃爍波光與層疊的浪潮;然而當我轉換視角,從所在的太平洋東端遙望太平洋西端的故鄉,此岸的輕微波動也可能引發彼岸劇烈的海嘯與地震。透過此岸與彼岸交錯的視角轉換,我運用大量的泛音、顫音,擊樂的振動與殘響,以及交錯複雜的聲線織度和音色變換,欲呈現閃爍波浪與劇烈海嘯兩種不同的情景,也藉由兩者的來回擺盪,營造出戲劇性的波動與反差。

在此曲創作過程中,花蓮發生強震(2018年二月六日)。我想以此曲祝願故鄉的海與人,不論我身在海洋的此岸或彼岸。

© Lily Chen 2018. All rights reserved.
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