Garcia (2021) for mubone

My nanny Jackie and I in the Hong Kong MTR, 1993.

Kalun Leung (Performance, Composition)

Bettina Szabo (Choreography)

Travis West (Instrument Design)

Program Note:

Garcia is the middle name of my childhood nanny who helped take care of me from birth to age 4. The single digit years of a human life are so formative and foundational, but it is often this decade that is most easily forgotten.

When Jackie found me on Facebook in 2020 during a time of intense identity reckoning that was brought on by COVID-19 among other challenges, I saw it as a fascinating opportunity to uncover my past through her memories. What was I like? Was I a brat? 

This piece is inspired by this process of uncovering memories through others and through self-discovery. Having immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong at age 4 with only one memory from this time, reconnecting with my nanny was a way for me to reconstruct how I navigated immigration and assimilation as a child, and to ascertain why I am the way I am.

Sounds are recorded, triggered and manipulated via this memory “sound palette” that is represented by the space around the performer, and the trombone is used as a memory logger and jogger, stylized by the performer’s movements.

Video: Jeremi Roy and Chloé Lampron-Gingras
Performance captured live in concert at La Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal on November 17, 2021.

Picnic Electronic

What happens when you get to the venue and they have no power? It happened to Raquel, Jack and I for our debut electroacoustic set at Spectrum, a not so fun fact that we discovered upon arriving, standbying as our gracious host attempted to manual hoist the huge gate that stood between us and the unlit space. Once we decided we could carry on with fully charged laptops and enough Bluetooth speakers to go around, our host stepped up once again and went straight to the liquor and hardware store to get sorry wine and flood lanterns.

The show turned into a spatialized chamber soirée thanks to the wireless speakers we distributed around the space; with a noticeable audio latency we attempted to incorporate into our improvisation. I was already into the idea of a picnic setup for electronics, one that would require no mains power or large amplifiers, and this opportunity sealed the deal.

I was invited back to Spectrum by another curator, this time at the storied Bell Labs boardroom at Westbeth in Greenwich Village, and I made it a thing (happening?). Here it is in full glory, this time with the providence of power which I happily chose not to utilize.

Die Posaune

I presented this piece with Felix del Tredici and Siw Laurent at my graduating recital at The New School in May 2018. Felix and I met Siw a week before my recital at the Creative Music Studio workshops in Greenwich Village. Her role in our collaboration presented itself in the most natural and serendipitous way – she brought to the workshop a sense of Shamanic dominance that emanated from her soul, voice, and Nordic frame drum. For months, Felix and I have been dreaming up a piece that involved the trombone as an object/installation, sympathetic resonance and feedback, and BDSM theatrics. Siw witnessed our informal workshopping of the piece in the basement of the Greenwich Music School that weekend and it became immediately clear that the piece needed her involvement.

The improvisation lasted around 10 minutes, a soundscape of slide-controlled karaoke mic feedback and Siw’s powerful vocalizations and drumming. Felix and I became slave to the instrument; we embodied ourselves as anchors tied via pulley to the trombone slide, control of the slide limited to the rope that tied it to our mouths. As we floated farther from the mothership, the slide would extend upwards, changing the pitch of the feedback duet while Siw’s energy blanketed our eventual demise.

TRUBACI MCGILL

I came back to Montréal from Guca in 2014 determined to immerse myself in balkan brass band tradition. I had an overwhelming response from my brass colleagues at McGill and we formed our own “Trubaci”, a brass orkestar I started where we would learn from the field recordings I took while I was in Serbia. We recorded this one song I picked up from a young band who was competing at Guca and named it rather arbitrarily as is the custom when names are unknown, or simply because it is more common to identify songs by the origin. Nonetheless, my travel-mates and I named it Power Shower. We lived in the basement of a local lady’s house up the hill from the festival where many of the competing bands were also staying. The bands would practice outside our shower and this tune stuck with us the most.

Women’s Day Tromboning

For International Women’s Day, So Wrong It’s Right wanted to make some serious noise for female artists from medieval and pre-medieval times. We broke ground at National Sawdust musing on three remarkable women who formed a deep bedrock of source material for our recording session that evening. For each woman, we dedicated a station that showcased their work, a quasi-installation which dotted the room and formed a route for our exploration. The evening began with a feminist found object jam, a playground of private items from our loved one’s arsenals.

At the first station, we paid tribute to Comtessa de Dia (1175 A.D.) who wrote the earliest surviving work by a trobairitz (female troubadour). Following this, we interpreted three poems by the Greek poet Sappho (630 B.C.) from the island of Lesbos. The third station focused on a beautifully preserved kufic script by the Islamic calligraphist Fadhl Mawlat Abi Ayyub (~907 A.D.)

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