Song of Silver Geese
The Latest Update
New Album Release!! Song of Silver Geese on Pi Recordings (released Nov. 10, 2017)
Hello friends! It has been along time since I posted an update — I blame busy touring and non-stop producing. I’m proud to announce that my newest album Song of Silver Geese is available on Pi Recordings!!
You can order from Pi’s website above and on bandcamp in its physical CD form (which I recommend as this includes the full translations of the seven languages I sing on the album as well as a beautiful photo spread of photographs by Steven Schreiber) as well as digitally. It has gotten rave reviews from NY Times (Best Albums of 2017), Pitchfork, Downbeat Magazine, All About Jazz, JazzTrail, World Music Report, etc. Hope you enjoy – I cannot thank the musicians and engineers who helped make this work come alive.
Produced by Jen Shyu
Executive Producers: Seth Rosner and Yulun Wang
Jade Tongue recorded at Systems Two Recording Studios, Brooklyn, NY, August 15, 2016, by Joe Marciano and assisted by Max Ross;
Jen Shyu recorded solo on November 21, 2016, by Max Ross
Mivos Quartet recorded at Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY, October 30, 2016, by Ryan Streber, assisted by Michael Quick
Edited and mixed by Andrew Taub at Brooklyn Recording, Brooklyn, NY, assisted by Adam Tilzer
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk, Peekskill, NY
Song of Silver Geese
01 Door 1: Prologue–Song of Lavan Pitinu 2:10
02 Door 2: World of Java 3:34
03 Door 3: Dark Road, Silent Moon 4:12
04 Door 4: Sinom Semarangan 12:09
05 Door 5: World of Hengchun 5:34
06 Door 6: World of Wehali 4:57
07 Door 7: World of Ati Batik 3:11
08 Door 8: World of Baridegi 7:36
09 Door 9: Contemplation 5:44
Jen Shyu, co-director, composition, vocals, Taiwanese moon lute, Korean gayageum, piano
Satoshi Haga, co-director, choreography, dance
Chris Dingman, vibraphone
Mat Maneri, viola
Thomas Morgan, bass
Satoshi Takeishi, percussion
Anna Webber, flutes
Dan Weiss, drums
Jennifer Choi, 1st violin
Erica Dicker, 2nd violin
Victor Lowrie, viola
Mariel Roberts, cello
All compositions and lyrics by Jen Shyu, Chiuyen Music (ASCAP) unless otherwise noted
Deepest thanks to my family Tsu Pin, Ana, and Linus Shyu, and Craig Taborn and family for their constant love and support; to Satoshi Haga and the incredible musicians; the late Edward Cheng and his family Shu, Eric, and Wendy; the late Sri Joko, his daughter Nala and his parents Bu Esti and Pak Mulyono and siblings Bremara and Westri; Simon Barker, Garin Nugroho, Rachel Cooper, Jim Staley, Cathy Hung at JCAL, MAP Fund, Jerome Foundation, Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, Asian Cultural Council, 150 Studios NYC, my assistant Corinne Judd, Lorosa’e English Language Institute (LELI), Catharina Williams-van Klinken, Philip and Tinuk Yampolsky, US Embassies in East Timor and Indonesia, Fulbright Scholar Program, AMINEF; to my teachers Kwon Songhee and Bae Il Dong (Pansori), Jo Munju (Binari), Seo Hanna and Kim Seok Chul’s family (East Coast Shaman music), Ha Kyung Mee (gayageum), Roger Shields (piano); Chen Yi, Zhang Ri Gui, and Zhu Ding Sun (Taiwanese moon lute); Danang Pamungkas, Bu Umi, and Bu Tiyah (Javanese dance). Roulette and Asia Society co-presented the premiere of Song of Silver Geese with funds from GENERATE: The Frances Richard Fund for Innovative Artists of Promise, and was supported by Chamber Music America’s 2015 New Jazz Works program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York State Council on the Arts; this work was also created with the support of the EtM Choreographer + Composer Residency, administered by Exploring the Metropolis, which, in partnership with the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, is funded by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, The Endeavor Foundation, and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.
Song of Silver Geese is dedicated to two dear friends whose texts comprise the core of this piece: first, the late Taiwanese nuclear engineer and poet, Edward Cheng, who passed away from cancer on May 31, 2015; and second, the Javanese “wayang kulit” shadow puppeteer, Sri Joko Raharjo “Cilik,” who, at the age of 30 on June 9, 2014, was killed in a car crash with his wife Wulan and 11-month old baby Satya in Central Java, leaving their 6-year-old daughter Nala, who was unharmed in the accident, as the sole survivor of their family. In the narrative of this work, I imagine Nala encountering strong spiritual guides just after the moment of impact from the accident, when she is waiting alone for help. These guides include Chen Da, the legendary nomadic folk singer from Hengchun, Taiwan; Ho’ar Nahak Samane Oan, a young woman warrior from a Timorese Wehali Kingdom myth, who disguises herself as a man and journeys to rescue her 6 brothers enslaved by a rival king; and the princess Baridegi from Korean folklore, who becomes the first shaman by resurrecting her dead father who, as King, abandoned her for being born a girl like her 6 sisters before, and not a boy. She journeys to the World of the Dead in order to find the magic elixir that saves her father. I imagine Baridegi then giving this holy water to Nala, who carries this to her perished family while repeating “Life…Home” from Edward Cheng’s poetry. This multi-lingual work is an offering to Edward and Sri Joko’s spirits, and they will always inspire us to reflect upon our lost loved ones, who live on through their art, their work, and their beloved families and communities.
Thanks for the standing ovation! Great New York Times review at Vision Festival 21
Very happy to share this excellent New York Times review by Ben Ratliff of Song of Silver Geese‘s 2nd performance at the legendary Vision Festival in its 21st year:
Jade Tongue, Mivos Quartet, and the great dancer-choreographer Satoshi Haga–the mastermind behind the 1200 tea lights for our piece and much of the staging, along with our lighting designer Caitlin Rapoport, and the 7 dancers led by Rie Fukuzawa, who all helped carry the tea lights so gracefully onto the stage–created a beautiful moment for the audience and for the artists performing.
We couldn’t believe how silent and generous the audience was during the whole performance. We were so touched by the standing ovation and moving feedback afterwards, as we enjoyed the rest of the night’s festivities, ending with Sun Ra’s Arkestra. Huge thanks to the incredible musicians and to Patricia and William Parker who gave us such a perfect opportunity to share the work in the historical Judson Memorial Church.
I look forward to the next time we can perform Song of Silver Geese again – we will do a music-focused version of it on closing night of my Stone residency on August 14th, 8pm and 10pm sets, this time with PK Harris on 1st violin, Erica Dicker on 2nd violin once again, Mat Maneri playing viola within the string quartet, and Christopher Hoffman on cello. The rest of my Stone residency, August 9-14, will have different music each set. Hope to see you!
In the meantime, I am already starting the solo process borne from this piece, and will show a 20-minute excerpt of the work-in-progress at Asia Society on October 1st, in a triple bill with Susie Ibarra and Samita Sinha. I also plan on premiering Phase 1 of this solo project at National Sawdust on May 17 & 18, 2017, presented by World Music Institute. Stay tuned for more updates…
Thank you for a successful premiere! Next performance: June 8, Vision Festival
On my birthday, March 28, 2016, at Roulette Intermedium, we premiered Song of Silver Geese for a wonderful audience, much more full than we expected for a Monday night. The week leading up to the performance was intense for Satoshi Haga and me, as we finally got to hear the musicians play the music and try the blocking that we envisioned for them. The lighting designer Caitlin Rapoport rolled with our changes and ideas, and it was in that last week that we made all our decisions, and I made final revisions up until performance day. We had a dress rehearsal run-through on Monday at about 5:30pm, and the performance was at 8pm. Jade Tongue (Anna Webber, Mat Maneri, Chris Dingman, Thomas Morgan, and Dan Weiss) and Mivos Quartet (Olivia de Prato, Erica Dicker, Victor Lowrie, and Mariel Roberts) were all fantastic, adjusting to our changes and playing brilliantly. Satoshi’s staging left the audience with a breathtaking last picture (a surprise for those who have yet to see the show). We look forward to refining the piece, musically and staging-wise and everything in between. A big thanks to our beautiful audience and to New Music USA and all our funders and supporters (Chamber Music America New Jazz Works, Exploring the Metropolis, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Doris Duke Performing Arts Awards, Asian Cultural Council, and Asia Society which co-presented the premiere, and GENERATE Fund: The Frances Richard Fund for Innovative Artists of Promise, which helped Roulette present us.
Tickets available for March 28th premiere at Roulette
Tickets are now available for the premiere of this new work, at Roulette on my birthday, March 28, 2016, 8pm, featuring Satoshi Haga, MIVOS Quartet, Jade Tongue, and myself:
Personnel: Satoshi Haga (dance, choreography) + Mivos Quartet + Jade Tongue: Chris Dingman (vibraphone), Mat Maneri (viola), Thomas Morgan (bass), Anna Webber (flute, alto flute), Dan Weiss (drums), and myself as composer on vocals, gayageum, Taiwanese moon lute, piano.
Hope to see you there! We’ll perform evolving versions of it at Vision Festival 21 on June 8, 2016, and again at my Stone Residency on August 14, 2016. Very excited… thank you always for your support and love for the music…
Attached is another video to the song “Moxa” on my latest album Sounds and Cries of the World, this one showing the beautiful footage of Timor-Leste by Spanish filmmaker David Palazón, who helped me a great deal in my research on my first trip in 2010, and we took a few of these trips together, documenting ceremony and traditional events in Timor-Leste. Enjoy!
Sounds and Cries of the World on Pi Recordings: https://pirecordings.com/album/pi61
David Palazón (filmmaker of “Moxa”): http://davidpalazon.com
Sujin Lee (filmmaker of “Mother of Time” in my last update): http://www.sujinlee.org/bio.html
March 28 (B-day!) 2016 = New premiere date @ Roulette
It has been too long since my last update, as things were so very busy after our Pi Recordings CD release of Sounds and Cries of the World at the Rubin Museum of Art back in September of 2015…it was non-stop touring in the US and in Europe as well as performances in Korea…and most recently I was awarded a 2-week residency at Doris Duke’s Shangri La in Honolulu, Hawaii, where I performed Solo Rites: Seven Breaths twice as well teaching and lecturing at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and at U of H’s East-West Center; and also fit in a few days of composing for Song of Silver Geese amidst all the performing and teaching within the community. But I am back in NYC for a couple of months and am very happy to announce that our premiere at Roulette in Brooklyn was moved to Monday, March 28th, 8pm, on my birthday, of course! The personnel is: (drum roll)…
Satoshi Haga (dance) + Mivos Quartet + Jade Tongue: Chris Dingman (vibraphone), Mat Maneri (viola), Thomas Morgan (bass), Anna Webber (flute, alto flute), Dan Weiss (drums), and myself as composer on vocals, gayageum, Taiwanese moon lute, piano. Each artist in this ensemble is a visionary in her/his own right, so it is a complete honor to be composing for this group.
Also, two exciting updates of funding support for this project – while I was in Korea last year, I found out that I received a commissioning award from the prestigious Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works, which is supporting the ensemble version of this work, which we will premiere at Roulette March 28th. Down the road, I expect that this process will yield solo projects and many other projects, such as site-specific performances including performances in the countries where the research was born.
We also received a stipend and studio time residency from Exploring the Metropolis, which is a wonderful organization, which offered this particular grant for the first time to composer and choreographer pairs. They offered January through March as one of the time periods, so I’m thrilled we received their support just in time for the March 28th premiere! I share it with my close collaborator and brilliant dancer and choreographer, Satoshi Haga, the choreographer for Song of Silver Geese. In early January, we started rehearsals of 6 to 8-hour days about 3 days a week at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) where the Exploring the Metropolis residency is taking place, and we will enjoy this amazing gift of studio time and space that is so essential for our process up until our premiere March 28th. We will rehearse in full with the ensemble leading up to the performance, and I hope we can all celebrate my birthday afterwards!
The CD release has been amazing, with many “Best Albums of 2015” mentions in publications including the New York Times, The Nation, and NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll (Vocal Album)… I post here a music video I made with Korean video artist Sujin Lee – this music as well as the video as a hint of Song of Silver Geese… more to come… Thanks for your support and hope to see you all on my birthday at Roulette!
It is an honor
Greetings from Korea! I have been here for almost 5 months with one more month to go, learning Korean language intensively, preparing to create new music and work with Korean writers on new text for Song of Silver Geese (working title), and continuing studies of Pansori, East Coast Shaman music, Gayageum Byeongchang, Gyeonggi Minyo, and Salpuri shamanistic dance (just started this study in June).
Just a quick note to say that I’m more than thrilled to have received support from New Music USA for this cycle! I also received a Jerome Foundation Travel Study Grant for necessary research in East Timor for this project, where I will be searching for actually story tellers of this tale of Ho’a Nahak Samane Oan, whose story will be a core of inspiration for this work. I will have more report in the weeks to come as another commission is announced publicly, which will be the main support for the ensemble version of this piece.
Director Garin Nugroho and I are communicating over email for the structure of this new work, and I am looking forward to his visit from Indonesia to the states on a fellowship he received from Asian Cultural Council. Looking forward to returning to NYC end of August to begin synthesizing this most recent research in Korea. I include a video from Solo Rites: Seven Breaths with some words from Garin speaking about “Ritual Map,” which we also hope to create in Song of Silver Geese.
As a jazz musician, each practice period, session with other musicians, gig, and performance in every venue and context, is a huge building block of the next project(s) that are building within the vision of the artist. The feedback from the audience and participants in these contexts is what gives that vision life.
On September 18, I am performing at the Rubin Museum with Mat Maneri and Dan Weiss and Satoshi Haga, in celebration of my new album, Sounds and Cries of the World on Pi Recordings, opening with an invocation to Solo Rites: Seven Breaths. This invocation is what will be part of the 3rd aspect I talk about in my original words about this piece, about my late friend, Javanese wayang kulit master Sri Joko Raharjo “Cilik,” who was killed last year in the crash I spoke of. For those of you in New York, I hope you can come and be part of the development that will occur on that night.
This new full-length composition, Song of Silver Geese, is a multilingual, ritual music drama, composed for dancer-improviser Satoshi Haga plus MIVOS Quartet (Olivia De Prato, 1st violin; Erica Dicker, 2nd violin; Victor Lowrie, viola; Mariel Roberts, cello); plus my band Jade Tongue (Chris Dingman, vibraphone; Mat Maneri, viola; Thomas Morgan, bass; Anna Webber, flutes; Dan Weiss, drums), and myself on vocals, dance, gayageum, Taiwanese moon lute, piano, to be premiered, recorded, and filmed at Roulette, Brooklyn, NY, on my birthday March 28, 2016 (Buy tickets here: http://roulette.org/events/jen-shyu-song-of-silver-geese/).
On May 28, 2014, at Roulette, I premiered a seven-language, solo opera, Solo Rites: Seven Breaths, directed by Garin Nugroho with half traditional and half my original music. In contrast, Song of Silver Geese will be almost all original music, pushing me to compose for the most players for whom I have written to date.
The members of the MIVOS Quartet and Jade Tongue will flow seamlessly between original, pre-composed structures and new improvisational systems inspired by my 12-plus years of researching traditional music from four specific countries: epic storytelling (Pansori) and East Coast shaman music (DongHaeAhnByeolShinGut), both from Korea; music from subdistricts Aileu and Ataúro from East Timor; Hengchun Folk Song with moon lute from Taiwan; and Ledhekan, which combines Javanese dance with improvisational singing (Sindhenan) from Indonesia. Dancer Satoshi Haga is my foil, as we switch and blur the roles of male and female in our portrayal of three main characters:
1. Timorese female warrior Ho’a Nahak Samane Oan, who disguises herself as a man to defeat a rival king.
2. “Baridegi” (or “Abandoned Princess”) from Korean folklore, known as the first shaman and mother of all shamans
3. The half-blind, nomadic Taiwanese moon lute virtuoso Chen Da, who defined Hengchun Folk Song, becoming a national icon for Taiwanese independence from China. I will express his character through poetry by the late Taiwanese poet/nuclear engineer Edward Cheng.
4. A universal character who cannot accept death and begs for rebirth, based on Javanese shadow puppeteer master and friend who, at the age of 30 in 2014, died in a car crash with his wife and 11-month old baby.
Through both narrative and abstract, integrative music-movement methodologies, these four characters will interact as a microcosm of the parallels that exist in the universe and the great necessity for empathy among cultures and genders, thereby defying certain assumptions that currently divide humanity. Similarly, the piece will confront the lines between those who make music and those who move to it, by building that collision into the music and movement made from all the artists. All space, sound, objects, instruments, and audience will become animated. This transcendence will evoke the ritual quality of the work as well as generate new sound-movement lexicon.
My music, influenced by vigorous practice as a creative “jazz” vocalist, dancer, and multi-instrumentalist aims to distill all these elements into revolutionary music-movement that resembles–only in essence and spirit–these traditions upon which it is based. I will later perform this work in 50 states and internationally in ensemble or solo forms.
Based on the 1st emperor of China, Da Yu, who must choose between saving his villagers from the flooding waters or being loyal to his wife and yet unborn son. Notions of love, existence, & universal vs. personal obligation are tested in this modern myth based on the ancient narrative form called Shuo-chang (“speak-sing”), mixing Portuguese, Tetum, Taiwanese, & Mandarin with voice (Shyu, composer), dance (Satoshi Haga), viola (Mat Maneri), clarinet (Ivan Barenboim), vibraphone, percussion (Satoshi Takeishi), poetry by Patrícia Magalhães(Brazil).
Directed by famed Indonesian film & stage director Garin Nugroho. Jen Shyu’s solo performance — that of a woman living simultaneously in multiple cultures,”projecting her ancestry” through contemporary monologue—reveals a personal journey of loss and redemption made universal through the exploration of hardships that plagues our modern world: loss of tradition, habitat, public spaces. Sonic, visual, and visceral rites and reflections are discovered by pilgrimage through Taiwan, East Timor, Indonesia,Vietnam,& South Korea (w/Jerome Fndn support)
Start and End Dates
03/25/2016 — 04/01/2017
Brooklyn, New York