One of my most vivid childhood memories is the sight and sounds of a flock of birds as they passed overhead. Each autumn, scores of birds would travel hundreds of miles to the south in search of warmer weather, and each year it seemed my home was underneath the invisible highway they followed. The birds themselves seemed to follow beautifully-orchestrated paths, creating undulating shapes and patterns as they squawked and chirped along their way. These individual animals combined forces to construct one enormous, cacophonous whole, and it is this process that inspired this work for like-minded instruments.
The piece begins with small groups of gayageums entering together, playing high-pitched delicate sounds. Other gayageums gradually enter, until the entire orchestra is playing together as one large flock. The players take turns leading and following each other, eventually coming together in a raucous climax of sound.
Mass Migration was commissioned by and is dedicated to the Gimhae Gayageum Orchestra (Ji-young Yi, director).
Available on the Gimhae Gayageum Orchestra’s “Tall Tree Forest” CD: