Rebirth (환생)

geomungo and Korean orchestra
(2018) 14′

Program Note

As I was composing this piece in the summer of 2018 in my Oahu home, something spectacular was occurring on a nearby island. Kilauea, the active volcano on Hawaii island, had become agitated, its lava pouring from – and sometimes exploding out of – the earth. The destructive power of nature was on display as entire forests, neighborhoods and shorelines were wiped out by the lava. Yet at the same time the Earth offered a glimpse of its creative powers. New land was formed in the wake of desolation, and the island expanded (and continues to expand) into the ocean.

This dichotomy between destruction and creation found its way into this concerto, and the powerful images of the volcano influenced the piece as well. Building, rising tension is heard at some moments, while at others the melodies ooze slowly downwards, as if following a path toward the sea. The geomungo is in motion through nearly the entire work, representing the unending energy of the Earth. Ultimately, Rebirth is a reflection on nature’s power to simultaneously wipe out and generate life and landscapes, and the fear and awe it inspires.

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