Between Sound and Shadow
In the late raining evening at the café, my mate Liu Xuanguang and I was sitting on the bar table, and discussed about the ensemble founding strictly. This was the night in July 30th, 2019 at around 21:00, I can still remember quite clear of this night’s memory even with the exactly time. The feeble lights hid behind the glasses reflected on the white marble bar table, and Xuanguang said with his frowned countenance: “Do you really think we can make it in reality in our city? A city without any chamber music ensemble in the history? What and how we will do?” I didn’t exact know how to answer him, but one only thing I was felt, just like the lights, sound of that environment and shadows of our all on the bar table, we have to create this ensemble as the first one and contact with music listeners in our city and then steps to other places. So I said peacefully to him: “Let’s try this and start to perform chamber concerts in Yichang, then go farther for more possibilities.” Very simple reply with no impetuous emotions, and Xuanguang also agree this simply as he always during our other usual discussions. This is the formal beginning of our story. Between the soft raining sound outside the café with the weak lights illuminated our coffee cups and reflected shadows on the table, I found a special and mystical line which was connecting this two sides, like the musician performs on the stage in the dark lights and connects audiences in the dark seats area, their shadows, minds and emotions are connected by the music and lights, and music is the lights of consciousness. Finally, we named as “Soundshadow Ensemble”.
As our primary thought of founding our ensemble, we always try to connect with listeners. In the middle of 2021, we decided to make this album and planned four members join this project: Liu Xuanguang (Piano), Cao Yuchen (Violin), Zou Shilong (Guitar), and me Chen Hu Jie (Clarinet). Pieces in this album aim for expressing the different bright and dark colours of the music, and embody our name “soundshadow”. So the pieces in this album have contrasting and finally drop into the dark musical colour, like sinking into shadows. When we talked about the repertoire of this album, just also planned some repertoires for our winter season’s concert in 2021 at the same time. Norbert Burgmüller’s Duo for Clarinet and Piano is one of the main piece that we played in the winter concert. At the planning time, we hoped our performances can include romantic emotions, bright colours, beauties and hope. So that, Burgmüller: Duo, Op.15 was a very good choice for this concert, especially concert night date closed to the new year’s eve. We recorded this piece on the Christmas Eve, and played live on our last “Shadowless” series concert. Then as the bright beginning of this album. Besides the duo between the clarinet and piano, for this album, we also hope there are more different corporate combos. That why we asked our brilliant guitarist Zou Shilong to play three duos in this album, one with the piano and the guitar as the solo melody, one with the clarinet, and one with the violin, these two are most as accompaniments. Spanish guitarist Jóse Ferrer’s Boléro, Op.39 and Germany composer Joseph Küffner’s Serenade for Clarinet and Guitar, Op.68 are Zou’s favourite choices for this album. These two pieces describe a quiet night picture: “The natural sound in the dark forests, delicate summer wind touches the trees, a lonely guitarist plays the music for the far lover”. Cao Yuchen based on the character of guitar, chose Nicolò Paganini: Cantabile, MS 109 for his corporation with guitarist. He thought this piece could give out a bright musical colour with expressive emotions. The elegant violin part plays a pure song for our beautiful life. Another memory is about our violinist Cao and me. I met and knew him since 2018 when we were in the music college in the United States. We were the roommates of our college time, too. One day, after I rehearsed Aram Khachaturian’s Trio for Clarinet, violin and piano, I went back to our apartment, and said to Cao: “I hope that I can play and record this trio with you when we back to China.” Because I was really influenced by this piece at the first time when I played this piece in America. All three movements wrote in a strong and obviously Armenian style. But especially the final movement, I like most. The theme melody of the third movement was transcribed in a famous Chinese Uyghur folk song Lift Your Veil by the Chinese Songwriter Wang Luobin. This song is from Xinjiang Province in China, and then was popular to the all provinces in China. So that when I play the beginning of this third movement, I always add some our style and a kind of native language accent expressions into the performance. In this combination, we can feel the western and eastern cultures are breaking the border and come together, communicate and understand each others. Moving back our eyes from my memory fragments to this album, Khachaturian’s Trio is the last piece. This trio goes back to the darker musical colours with more shadows, finally ends with a morendo clarinet tones and a pianissimo violin’s pizzicato. Some people may ask why we don’t make an exciting ending of all? But if I say this is not the ending, this is meaning: To be continued. Right, this just a start of Soundshadow Ensemble. Like we paid a lot of efforts for popularizing chamber music in our city and searching for more in other places, our steps never end here, we are still looking forward, and maybe someday take you from the dark shadow to the another beautiful lights places. As I am writing this introduction for our album and sitting in the same seats in the same café. The coffee cup’s shadow still reflects on the white marble table, but the lights is brighter.
Chen Hu Jie
(Soundshadow Ensemble Artistic Director)
Now Yichang from Summer to Autumn.
Cao Yuchen, Violin
Cao Yuchen is the violinist of Soundshadow Ensemble since 2019. He is the 1st Prize Winner of Hongkong International Competition of Violin and Piano in 2015. He also performed in three times of Interharmony International Music Festival in German from 2017 – 2018 and in Italy in 2019. In 2019, he played in Montecito International Music Festival in California, US. Cao Yuchen Joined Beijing Sun Youth Orchestra in 2015. He used to play concertos as the soloist with Beijing Sun Youth Orchestra in National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) and Beijing Concert Hall. In 2017, He travelled with the Youth Orchestra and played at Musikverein Wien Brahms-Saal in Austria. He graduated from Arizona State University Herberger Institute School of Music, educated under American Chinese violinist Danwen Jiang. Now he is studying with the Concertmaster of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra David Halen in University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. His other teachers include Jiang Xiongda, and Sun Jiaming. Cao Yuchen also took part in many master classes, guided by several famous violinists, like Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaider.
Chen Hu Jie, Clarinet
Chen Hu Jie. Chinese clarinettist, composer. Artistic Director of Soundshadow Ensemble. Yichang Gorges Symphony Orchestra Guest Principle Clarinet. Yichang Free Jazz Big Band Clarinettist. As a soloist, Chen Hu Jie made series clarinet concert projects “Loop Line” and “Time Shuttle” since 2018. At age 20, he was invited to play the solo performance at BOZAR Recital Hall in Brussels, Belgium. As a chamber musician and orchestral clarinettist, in 2019, he created Soundshadow Ensemble as one of the Founders and as the Artistic Director. He was hired by Yichang Gorges Symphony Orchestra (YGSO) as Guest Principle Clarinet when he was 19 years old. In 2022, he was invited to join into Yichang Free Jazz Big Band as the Clarinettist. As a new generation’s musician, he also works on many new pieces which were written for him, including the Assistant Professor of Composing in University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Jasmine Moni Guo’s Deux Faces. As a composer, in 2020, Gorges-Ode, CV.13 was premiered on China Sina (the most popular social media in China) official livestream and performed at Yichang City TV. At the same year, his Chinese contemporary style trio Contrasting Flauto I, CV.7 was lectured in Fujian Normal University Music College (China). He is the prize winner of several music competitions: 1st prize of the 5th China National Music Competition of Woodwind and Brass (clarinet section) and honored with China “Small GoldBell” Special Honor Music Prize (China, 2016); 1st Prize in the 31st Concorso Internazionale per Giovani Musicisti “Città di Barletta” (Italy, 2021); and etc.. Born in Yichang, China in 1999. He started to study clarinet at 9, with Yichang Gorges Symphony Orchestra Principle Clarinet Sun Shan. At 15 years old, he went to Beijing, studied with Pre-Principle Clarinet of Military Band of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Yu Bo, under the systemic Soviet clarinet academic study for 4 years, and also studied with Central Conservatory Of Music Clarinet Professor Yuan Yuan. By deep influences of Nordic clarinet academic style since his childhood times, he mainly studied with Swedish clarinetist Emil Jonason and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra Principle Clarinet Christoffer Sundqvist during his years in US, and keeps continued study with them until now. After graduated with Bachelor Degree from Arizona State University School of Music (US) with Robert Spring and Joshua Gardner, he moved to Europe in Denmark, current studies in Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium (The Royal Academy of Music Aarhus) with Danish clarinettist Mathias Kjøller. His chamber music educations with Bue Skov Thomassen and German-Austrian School American Pianists Russell Ryan.
Liu Xuanguang, Piano
Liu Xuanguang, Chinese Pianist. Leader of Soundshadow Ensemble. former Piano Follow of Yichang Gorges Symphony Orchestra. Piano Member of Yichang Free Jazz Big Band. Born in 1992, Yichang.
After graduated in Wuhan Conservatory with the piano performance degree, Liu Xuanguang joined in Yichang Gorges Symphony Orchestra as Piano Follow since 2016. In 2017, he played the piano part of Chinese epical opera《Sun Shangxiang》 premiere concert with Yichang Gorges Symphony Orchestra and Yichang Jing-Opera Ensemble, and after one year in 2018, he also performed the opera’s capital city premiere in Beijing Mei Lan-Fang Opera House. In 2019, as one of the Founder, he founded Soundshadow Ensemble, and as the Leader and Pianist.He is the prize winner of Yangtze River Piano Competition in 2014.
Soundshadow Ensemble founded by Chinese Pianist Liu Xuanguang (Leader) and Chinese clarinetist Chen Hu Jie (Artistic Director) in 2019. As the one and only professional chamber music ensemble in Yichang, Soundshadow Ensemble undertakes important duties of chamber concerts missions and performs every main chamber concerts in their city, included: In 2020, the only one Beethoven 250th Anniversary concert in Yichang; In 2021, “Shadowless” series concerts, and etc.. Besides in China, their members also performed in Belgium, Denmark, German, Romania, Spain, US, and other countries. Soundshadow Ensemble is the Ensemble in Residence of Yichang Yamaha Concert Hall since 2020, and is also the collaborated ensemble with Yichang Gorges Symphony Orchestra and Yichang Free Jazz Big Band.
Zou Shilong, Guitar
Zou Shilong. As one of the leading guitarist in his city Yichang, he joined Soundshadow Ensemble as the Guitarist since 2019, and played most of chamber music concerts in Yichang, including the live performances in Yichang City TV Hall. He is the prize winner of several competitions: 2nd Prize of Xiangyang Guitar Competition in 2010; Finalist and Best Performance Prize of 1st Altamira Shanghai Guitar Festival Competition in 2014; 1st Prize of Yichang Yangtze River Guitar Competition in 2019.
Zou Shilong studies with guitar educator Xu Zhong until now, and then he also studied with Montenegrin guitarist Goran Krivokapic (Professor of Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln). He also attended many master classes, like Italian guitarist Aniello Desiderio.
Aram Il'ich Khachaturian (b Tbilisi, 24 May/6 June 1903; d Moscow, 1 May 1978). Armenian composer, conductor and teacher. He is considered by some to be the central figure in 20th-century Armenian culture and, along with Prokofiev and Shostakovich, was a pillar of the Soviet school of composition. He influenced the development of composition not only in Armenia but also in Asia and South America. His name graces the Grand Concert Hall in Yerevan, a string quartet has been named after him and a prize in his name was instituted by the Armenian Ministry of Culture. His house was opened as a museum in 1978 and since 1983 the International Khachaturian Fund in Marseilles has held competitions for pianists and violinists.
Niccolò Paganini: (b Genoa, 27 Oct 1782; d Nice, 27 May 1840). Italian violinist and composer. By his development of technique, his exceptional skills and his extreme personal magnetism he not only contributed to the history of the violin as its most famous virtuoso but also drew the attention of other Romantic composers, notably Liszt, to the significance of virtuosity as an element in art. As a composer of a large number of chamber works, mostly with or for guitar, Paganini was influential in furthering the performance and appreciation of music in private circles.
(August Joseph) Norbert Burgmüller
(b Düsseldorf, 8 Feb 1810; d Aachen, 7 May 1836). German composer and pianist. A son of Johann August Franz Burgmüller, Norbert possessed far greater ability than his father or his brother Friedrich, but lacked their ambition and worldliness. One of his early patrons was Count von Nesselrode-Ehreshoven, who brought him to his estates near Kassel after his father's death and had him educated there. From 1826 to 1831 Burgmüller studied composition with Moritz Hauptmann and Spohr, his most important teacher.
During these years Burgmüller made frequent appearances as a pianist and composer, for instance performing his Piano Concerto op.1 in January 1830. The following year he moved to Düsseldorf, hoping to obtain a permanent appointment in the flourishing musical atmosphere of that city, but the project came to nothing. He was suffering very frequent epileptic fits at this time, and his decline in social status began, partly because of financial problems but also because of the reclusive life he led, remaining in contact with only a few close friends including the poet C.D. Grabbe.
Burgmüller's compositions attracted an increasing amount of attention, and won the approval of Mendelssohn, who performed his Symphony in C minor op.2, among other works. But his social situation remained insecure, and he was considering moving to Paris when he died of an epileptic fit while staying at Aachen to take the waters. In an impassioned obituary, Schumann wrote: ‘Since the early death of Schubert, nothing more deplorable has happened than that of Burgmüller’ (Gesammelte Schriften, 111, 145), and a funeral march composed by Mendelssohn himself (op.103) accompanied him to the grave.