Byron Au Yong

  • Release
  • 04/08/2012
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Byron Au Yong (歐陽良仁) combines western classical music, Chinese folk elements and American musical theatre with a penchant for the avant-garde. His interdisciplinary projects, scored for voices with Asian, European and handmade instruments have been performed in concert halls, festivals, theaters, museums and site-specific locations.

Works include Stuck Elevator, premiered at the American Conservatory Theatre, Tzu Lho: Simmering Songs performed by the Stanford Chorale, Surrender: A T’ai Qi Cantata, for 24 moving voices commissioned by The Esoterics, YIJU: Songs of Dislocation developed at the Jack Straw New Media Gallery and Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas performed in 64 waterways throughout the Pacific Northwest.

International projects include Salt Lips Touching premiered outside a Confucian Temple at the Jeonju Sanjo Festival in South Korea, Edge performed at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg in Germany and Forbidden Circles performed at the Fukuoka Gendai Hogaku Festival and International House of Japan.

Au Yong has worked with the top taiko ensembles in North America including On Ensemble, Portland Taiko and TAIKOPROJECT. In addition, he curated the exhibition A Bridge Home: Music in the Lives of Asian Pacific Americans for the Wing Luke Museum, where he serves on a Community Advisory Committee.

Honors include an American Composers Forum Grant, Creative Capital Award, Ford Foundation Fellowship, 4Culture Award for Innovation, Meet the Composer Commission and Time Warner Foundation Fellowship. Internationally, Au Yong has received support from Aldeburgh Music in the UK, the Dragon Foundation in Hong Kong, the Darmstadt Institute in Germany, and Foundation Gaudeamus in Holland.

Recordings of Au Yong's music are available on New World Records, Periplum and Present Sounds Recordings. His namesake comes from Lord Byron and Ouyang Xiu (歐陽脩), two poets who wrote about love.

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Classical | World Music/Contemporary | Opera/Vocal



Steve Peters
(206) 290-1601

Songs of dislocation find a home in new Yiju 移居 album

A vast number of Chinese – more than 40 million – live outside of their ancestral homeland. In North America, the influx of this diaspora is mixing and adapting its cultural heritage in New York (665,714), San Francisco (562,355), Toronto (486,300) and Vancouver (402,000).

With "Yiju 移居," Mandarin for "to migrate," Seattle-based Chinese American composer Byron Au Yong and Present Sounds Recordings offer an album of music both intimate and cinematic, humorous and contemplative, by combining Au Yong’s broken musical lineage with a nod to the avant garde. “As the only composer in a family of overseas Chinese, it is with regret that I never studied music with my grandfather," he says. 

“On this album, I devoted myself to assembling songs of dislocation – of memory and imagination. I hope listeners find moments to laugh, as well as reflect about migration, travel and their relationship to China.”

Selected track insights

Daughter 女儿: “My grandparents fled China in 1938, leaving my first aunt. I wonder what lullaby my grandmother would have sung to the daughter they left behind.”

Two Knives 两把刀: “In the 1940s, my grandfather was captured by Japanese soldiers. He pretended to be a farmer and joked with the soldiers until he was able to escape. They would have killed him if they knew he started the first Chinese school in the Mindanao Mountains of the Philippines.”

A Man Is Falling 摔倒的人: “I used to think that migration was horizontal. After 9/11, I began to think of migration as vertical – of ancestors falling through the sky and landing on unsuspecting progeny. The news rarely covers family stories turned on their heads.”

Praise for ‘Yiju’

“Yiju is at times haunting and at times a rich cacophony of textures and emotion. It’s music for quiet, contemplative time. Each time I listen I hear something new.” – Mary Coss, artist

“I don't know of any other contemporary work that both embraces and subverts its sentimentality to such compelling effect. I loved the way it unfolded, song by song, with each new piece catching me off guard, even as it evolved its themes and motifs.” – Aaron Landsman, playwright, actor, teacher

Other albums by Byron Au Yong

– Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas (2009)
– BreathPlay (2007)
– Walking (2001)

Creative team

“Yiju 移居,” Byron Au Yong’s fourth album, features performances by musicians Karen Akada, Byron Au Yong, Marc Collins, Marc delaCruz, Jessika Kenney, Gina Sala, Aiko Shimada and James Whetzel singing and playing er-hu (Chinese fiddle), string bass, drums, paper, chopsticks, cymbals and water gongs. “Yiju” was recorded by audio engineer Steve Ditore as part of a Jack Straw New Media Gallery residency in Seattle. Album design by Wing Fong.

Dispatch Details

Release Title: YIJU
Record Label: Present Sounds Recordings
Distributor: CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon
Country: United States
Release Type: Physical
Release Format: Album
Suggested Retail Price: $10
Preferred Retail Link: Click here
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