Sunday, October 3, 2021 at 4 pm
Download a copy of the program here.
Hesterian Musicism – Karlton Hester, flute & saxophone; Motoko Honda, piano; David Smith, bass; Yunxiang Griswold, pipa
Hwayoung Shon, gayageum
NMK Ensemble – Hyun-Jin Yun, Director; Yoon-Jin Kim, violin; Yongjin Yun, bassoon; Soyean Ahn, cello
This performance is sponsored in part by Arts Council Korea.
Hwayoung Shon (b. 1975)
Hwayoung Shon, gayageum
Karlton Hester (b. 1949)
Karlton Hester, flute / saxophone; Motoko Honda, piano
David Smith, bass; Yunxiang Griswold, pipa
Hesterian Musicism & Hwayoung Shon, gayageum
Byungki Hwang (1936–2018)
The Haunted Tree
Hwayoung Shon, gayageum
Miseon Jeong (b. 1985)
Hwayoung Shon, gayageum
NMK ensemble (pre-recorded video)
Hyun-Jin Yun, director
Yoon-Jin Kim, violin; Yongjin Yun, bassoon; Soyeon Ahn, cello
About the music
Hwayoung Shon Ritual
In ancient Asia, there was a ceremony accompanied by music whenever the country faced difficulties. Gayageum, a traditional Korean Instrument, expresses an ancestral rite in the recent pandemic caused by the Covid-19 that has hit us since 2020. Music expresses ancient rituals, with different rhythms and finger strokes per instrument to represent various instruments used in ancient rites.
The song begins by expressing the sound of the monk’s wooden gong. Like the rhythm of a drum, the ritual progresses, and when the consciousness rises, the gayageum plays a rhythm and melody that resembles the geomungo, another traditional Korean instrument. Finally, when the rite is over, the melody inspired by the recitation of the Buddhist Heart Sutra and the sound of the wooden gong used at the beginning of the music is repeated, praying for the world’s purification.
Karlton Hester Free Hesteria
Music gives us the freedom to express the deepest part of who we are. Music touches the deepest desire of the heart and resonates with the yearning for meaning, soulfulness, vibrational grounding, peace, understanding, constant searching, beneficial living, insight, interconnection, innovative exploration, transcendence, and expressive communication.
In FREE HESTERIA we recognize and respect that creative freedom, from an Afrofuturistic perspective springs forth within fluid boundaries of experiential knowledge and spiritual inspiration. As our creative selves evolve mutually through direct musical interaction and interconnection, we became more self-directed and more clear about our artistic inspiration individually and collectively. With developing maturity and emerging self-confidence we gradually define and enhance the creative boundaries to explore. Through such self-imposed limitations our creative process grows and flourishes. As we limit and carefully examine experience within the multiverse we are enabled with greater abilities to explore our universe more efficiently and thoroughly.
Karlton Hester Saturnday Head
Afrofuturism String Theory aligns with scientists who posit that very small “strings” whose various modes of vibration produce the observed particles and forces of nature, often described through analogies with music, especially Pythagorean harmonies. String theory proposes that the fundamental constituents of the universe are one-dimensional “strings” rather than point-like particles. … String theory also requires six or seven extra dimensions of space, and it contains ways of relating large extra dimensions to small ones.
Saturnday Head is a composition based upon Sun Ra’s notion of “Traveling the Space Waves from Planet to Planet” and the philosophy of other thinkers who identify with his thinking. Le Sony’r Ra, better known as Sun Ra, was an outsider who linked the African American experience with ancient Egyptian mythology and outer space. Sun Ra was years ahead of all other avant-garde artists and released his vibratory agenda on his own record label, El Saturn Records. He was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, and poet known for his experimental music, “cosmic” philosophy, prolific output, legendary musicianship, composer, artist, cosmic philosopher, space explorer, independent movies (Space Is the Place, Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, sun ra and others,), and theatrical performances.
- “This is the music of greater transition to the invisible irresistible space age.” (Sun Ra)
- “I like all the sounds that upset people, they’re too complacent, and some of those sounds really shake ‘em. They need to wake up ‘cause it’s a very bad world and maybe they could do something about it.” (Sun Ra)
- “Those who are thirsty for wisdom Will ever move toward the source of the wisdom That quenches their thirst.” (Sun Ra)
- “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.” (Stephen Hawking)
Karlton Hester Byrd Math
Music is simply emotional expression for some people and it’s a calculated, mathematical puzzle for others who have used math to explain music and sound for thousands of years. Pythagoras said numbers ruled the universe, But I sense that it is vibration that is the only constant in the multiverse. Pythagoras looked at the cosmos as a single unity of music, astronomy, geometry and number theory, which his followers called arithmetic. The Pythagoreans were a cult which swore to keep their discussions secret. As a result, little or no written records survived. But we do know that Pythagoras experimented with vibrating strings and found that if you divide a string by a ratio of 2:1, 3:2 or 4:3, and pluck the string, as you would on a guitar or violin, the resulting notes have a “consonant harmonious relationship. From that realization Pythagoras made a huge leap of faith to say that the whole universe ran according to these simple numbers. Global Africans understand that vibratory families (overtone series) produce sound that all members of each family form the infinite string of melodic and harmonics polytonal (polyrhythmic) possibilities.
Detroit’s legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd was a “jazz” master and also a pioneer in jazz education, who attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit, played in military bands in the Air Force and moved to New York in 1955. Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II rose to national prominence when he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers later that year, filling the seat in the bebop group held by his idol Clifford Brown. He soon became one of the most in-demand trumpeters on the New York scene, playing with Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. He also began his recording career by leading sessions for Savoy and other labels. In 2000, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized Byrd as a Jazz Master, the nation’s highest jazz honor.
Byrd didn’t have much formal training in mathematics but created a groundbreaking curriculum called Music + Math (equals) Art, in which he transformed notes into numbers to simultaneously teach music and math. Byrd shared his process during the numerous times that he visited me in Ithaca, New York while I was teaching at Cornell University as the Herbert Gussman Director after I invited him to the Cornell Jazz Festival that I founded in 1990 (that still continues). I wrote this piece while traveling to Detroit, Michigan for a live radio broadcast at WDET radio for tenor saxophone, bass, and drums explored Byrd’s mathematical principles. WDET is a community service of Wayne State University.
Byungki Hwang The Haunted Tree
It is a 1979 work by Byungki Hwang, the greatest composer of modern Korean traditional music. It begins as a dreary introduction with a song about a grotesque tree with a spirit. After a strange song based on traditional Korean rhythms is raised, it ends with a powerful melody. The New York Times praised that “Byungki Hwang’s work is like an oriental watercolor painting full of mysterious inspiration. Beautiful sounds with extremely delicate techniques have shown what purity is in music.”
Miseon Jeong Fusion Soul
For this composition, I got the main Idea from animation `Fusion soul`. Their souls are changed to each other’s body. So, in my composition, two main souls will be changed: Jazz and Korean style. I independently use Jazz and Korean traditional style in each field as their unique character. At the climax their souls are changed, so Jazz melody and harmonic are played in Gayagem. and Jazz instruments play Korean melody and emotion. They eventually become one and reach the end.
About the musicians
Karlton E. Hester, Ph.D. (composer/flutist/saxophonist), began his career as a composer and recording artist in Los Angeles where he worked as a studio musician and music educator. He received his Ph.D. in composition from the City University of New York Graduate Center and is currently the director and member of the principal faculty for the University of California, Santa Cruz Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) MFA program.
As performer on both flute and saxophone, he is founding music director of the Fillmore Jazz Preservation Big Band (in San Francisco), director of Hesterian Musicism, and served as the Herbert Gussman Director of Jazz Studies at Cornell University from 1991–2001. Hester specializes in premeditated, spontaneous and electro acoustic composition. His compositions span a wide range; from numerous solo cycles for various woodwinds to chamber configurations, music videos and electro-acoustic symphonic works written in an eclectic array of styles.
Karlton Hester has performed throughout the USA and worldwide (in Bolivia, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Peru, Egypt, Korea, Germany, France, South Africa, Mexico, Thailand, Canada). Hester Festivals and Conferences (with the International Society for Improvised Music, the Fillmore Preservation Big Band, as well as at Cornell and UCSC with Hesterian Musicism and the Traditional & Experimental Cornell Lab Ensembles) have included guest artists Jaki Byard, John Handy, Joe Henderson, Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Stanley Turrentine, Louis Jordan, Buddy Collette, Dr. Donald Byrd, Dr. Billy Taylor, Dr. Nelson Harrison, Randy Weston, Charles Lloyd, Geri Allen, Benny Powell Charles Tolliver, Steve Turre, Sam Rivers, Denise Perrier, Thomas Mapfumo (Zimbabwe), George E. Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Hotep Galeta (South Africa), Ashwin Batish, Victor Goines, Akua Dixon, Mamadou Diabate (Mali), Samite Mulondo (Uganda), Cecilia Smith, Phil Bowler, Adela Dalto, Akua Dixon, Pamela Wise, Nick Mathis, and many other renowned innovators, jazz and African artists. www.karltonhester.com
Hwayoung Shon, a gayageum performer, was praised by Seong-Chun Lee, former director of the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts, as an outstanding performer who appears once in several decades. Hwayoung Shon made her public debut at the age of 10 in 1986 with Korean Broadcasting System. She graduated from Seoul National University and is the winner of 11 national Korean music competitions. At the age of 17, she was awarded the grand prize at the national gayageum competition, the most prestigious gayageum competition in Korea. It was featured in newspapers, TV and acclaimed by media as the most beautiful and gorgeous-sounding performer despite her young age. She was also the first gayageum performer to collaborate with a K-pop band on TV in Korea.
As a soloist, she has been invited to many distinguished concert halls such as Herbst Theatre and performed on many prominent stages. She also performs in the United States, Japan, Europe, and her performances were broadcasted nationwide by KBS, MBC, EBS, SBS in Korea. Her recent appearance includes KAMSA orchestra collaborator and soloist, HKMCC for lecture concert, The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, The World Music Festival in France, Marin Symphony Valentine Day Showcase and Old First Concerts. www.hwayoungshon.com
Portrayed as a “Keyboard Alchemist”(Chris Barton, Los Angeles Times) and the “Embodiment of a Muse” (Greg Burk, metaljazz.com), critically-acclaimed Japanese-born pianist/composer/interdisciplinary artist Motoko Honda has fascinated critics and audiences alike with her genre-defying innovative approach to piano playing and composing: “Imagine Radiohead teaching Franz List how to rock a Kaoss Pad; or John Cage facing off with Bud Powell over prepared piano”(Matthew Duersten, stompbeast.com). With stylistic influences ranging from jazz to Indonesian music and contemporary prepared & electrified piano, Honda is a musical force of nature, bringing a unique creative sound to her solo works and wide-ranging collaborations. Her music transports audiences on sonic adventures that transcend the boundaries and conventions of traditional contemporary music concerts.
As an active pianist-composer, band leader, and interdisciplinary creator, Honda has been commissioned to produce a multitude of works that have been presented at major festivals and venues by major organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad. Honda has performed, collaborated, and recorded with many distinguished musicians such as Pulitzer nominee Wadada Leo Smith, Guggenheim Fellow Elliott Sharp, punk legend Mike Watt, guitarist Nels Cline, Emmy Award winner Van-Anh Vanessa Vo. She also frequently appears as a guest performer-lecturer at various universities and institutions worldwide to share her unique perspective on graphic scores, contemporary composition techniques, improvisation, interdisciplinary/collaborative media works, electro-acoustic esthetics, and extended piano techniques. Her recent appearances include the S.F. Music Festival at Herbst Theater, Hammer Museum, Angel City Jazz Festival, Rice University and Moody Center for the Arts, Houston, Montalvo Arts Center, University of California Santa Cruz, and Kala Art Institute. www.motokohonda.com
David Smith, M.A. Music Performance, has been filling the bass chair position in Hesterian Musicism for the past 12 years. He is proud and honored to participate in this performance. The future of our global consciousness is awakened and developed further by a living cultural exchange through the various vehicles of visual, musical, kinetic and narrative artistic expression.
Yunxiang Gao Griswold is a composer, pianist, and pipa player from China. She graduated from Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Composition. In 2011, she entered the University of California at Irvine to continue her graduate study in Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts with an emphasis in World Music Composition at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She invited to present Chinese music and her own composition at the New England Conservatory of Music, performed Chinese instruments at the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall and appeared Music Acoustica Festival.
Ensemble NMK (Neue Musik aus Korea) was founded in Berlin in 2015 to promote Korean New Music not only in Korea but also around the world. The group is actively performing various Korean creative music on overseas stages, including the invitation to the Berlin Korean New Music Festival held at the Berlin Konzerthaus in 2019.
Korean Conductor and Composer Hyun-Jin Yun is currently an Assistant Professor at the Anyang University, Project Director of NMK and a Board Member of the Hwaseong City Culture Foundation. He won the 1st prize at the 3rd Jeunesses Musicales International Conducting Competition in Bucharest and has been worked with George Enescu Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic and WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne.
Miseon Jeong (Composer and Coordinator of NMK) began her professional music career with Ensemble Modern, and the Ensemble IEMA and the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic, and the Tonkünstler Orchester, Norddeutsche Philharmonie, and her works also premiered at the Usedom Music Festival and the Witten Festival of Contemporary Chamber Music in Germany. She won the 1st. prize at the 27th Siegburg International Composition Competition and Jury-prize at “ad libitum” in Baden Württemberg in Germany where her works were performed at the Stadthalle Singen and Theaterhaus Stuttgart. Since 2019 Miseon Jeong is Guest Professor at the Myongji University in South Korea.
Violinist Yoon-Jin Kim performed with many leading orchestras, such as Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Sachsische Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, etc. In 2019/20 season she made her debut at the Carnegie hall and her recordings H. Wieniawski Violin concerto No. 2 and A. Vivaldi Concerto Op. 3 no. 8 were released. For many years she has been working with numerous creative musicians and contemporary music composers worldwide and Her Violin Recital Project “Violinist Yoon Jin Kim and Contemporary Music Composers around the World” was supported by the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture in 2019 and 2020.
Korean bassoonist Yongjin Yun returns to Asia after studying at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, Germany, where he obtained a Master of Music and completed the elite postgraduate Konzertexamen program. Yongjin performed Mozart’s Concerto for Bassoon with the Hamburger Symphoniker and won numerous prizes and scholarships for both solo and chamber music, including the Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now Hamburg Scholarship for Chamber Music, and first prize in the Musikjournal Competition.
Born in Korea, Soyeon Ahn graduated from Sunhwa Arts School, Sunhwa Arts High School, Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul. She received Diplom & Meisterklassendiplom from Hochschule für Musik Augsburg in Germany (Prof. Julius Berger). She currently is a Member of Cello Passionato (Germany), La Mer Trio, and NMK Ensemble.