Chimera, Ken Ueno’s new work for 5-string Baroque cello, was officially premiered by cellist Elinor Frey on November 18, 2017 at the Recital Hall of the University of Texas – Austin in Austin, Texas. Ken was present at the premiere and participated in a Question and Answer session along with Elinor Frey, hosted by UT professor Guido Olivieri.
Thanks to a long and fascinating process of collaboration, parts of Chimera received preview performances. Four out of the five movements were performed Nov. 12 at the Anfiteatro Simón Bolívar in Mexico City, Mexico and two movements were performed in July 2017 in Cazenovia, New York, hosted by the Society for New Music.
Future performances are planned for 2018: February 4th at the Oratoire St. Joseph in Montréal, Québec, October 1 at CMC Toronto, October 7 at Maybeck Studios in Berkeley, CA, and October 9 at Music on Main in Vancouver, BC. More performances in New York and elsewhere are being planned. Hopefully even more will come!
Thank you again to New Music USA for the support!
Here are Ken’s program notes:
Commissioned by Elinor Frey.
The composition of this piece was supported by a New Music USA Project Grant 2016.
- “Night opening its black flower”
- “in the shadow of my sorrow”
- “we are resurrected”
- “the sky will be lavender”
- “an ocean bell sounding”
“Instruments are not instruments. Instruments are people. My compositional praxis is based on this fundamental principle that the musical potential of any instrument depends on who is playing it. As a composer, I depend upon fully engaged performers who enable me to take risks. New music requires trust and commitment. Elinor Frey is just that kind of player, who inspires me and who I trust. The opportunity to write for her and her five-string baroque cello was a chance to imagine a counterfactual history of the five-string baroque cello. My piece is a kind of meta-suite in five movements, one that traverses time. Starting with a contemporary recasting of a prelude (“Night opening its black flower”), the following movements gradually approach a ghost of the baroque. The ghost appears clearest in the middle movement (“we are resurrected”) distorted by microtones, then fades away. In the last movement (“an ocean bell sounding”), bell-like incantations of chords of the open strings, harmonies based on just intonation, linger insistently in a gesture-less field, until, they begin to exert their own validity, or, perhaps we begin to accept them for what they are, an assessment no longer appurtenant to standards of the past.”
— Ken Ueno