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2022
나의 여름에게 쓰는 말 (Words I write to my summer) for soprano and piano
Piano Quintet No. 1, "Things people have said about death" for piano quintet
H. A. N. Y. U. N. I. M. for voice and viola
Five prayers for steelpans

2021
star / ghost / mouth / sea for orchestra
What Words We Had for guitar
on solitude for flute and electronics
I dreamed of a small blue stone for viola and chamber orchestra

2020
THE EIGHTH SONG for three violas
Impressions of one winter for solo viola
...does not remember the footprints of birds for solo marimba
my dream journal for solo piano

2019
Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today for soprano, viola, and double bass
The Fairy and The Woodcutter for violin and piano
Nori for string orchestra
Variations on Arirang for solo marimba

2018
Four Love Songs for soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion
cycles of light for solo trumpet
conjunctions for soprano saxophone, trumpet, piano, percussion, electric guitar, and double bass
Lines of Lerici for string quartet
Mu for sinfonietta

2017
The Blue Marble for youth orchestra
Suite for Solo Cello for cello
Sea of City for bass clarinet and marimba

나의 여름에게 쓰는 말 (Words I write to my summer)


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watch (for those of you who are more visual oriented)

instrumentation
soprano, piano

program note
나의 여름에게 쓰는 말 is a song cycle made of four songs, each about things that Ye Ji and I observed with love in Aspen, such as the moon, the wildflowers, the Aspen trees, and the hummingbirds. The inspiration for the text came from Ye Ji and my musings on these things, such as when we walked past the tiny hummingbird nest at the Bucksbaum campus and were truly mesmerized by how small and fleeting it was.

It is also the first song I wrote in a while that is entirely in Korean. I felt that writing in Korean almost unlocked this sensibility I couldn't quite access with English. And I'm so lucky to have worked with Ye Ji, who beautifully embodies this sensibility in her singing.

Lastly, you'll hear that the text is made of phrases that end with "사랑하듯이," which means "like I love." For example, "like how I love the moon," "like how I love the wildflowers." And at the end of each of these phrases, I imagine there to be a "I will love myself and others."

movements
I. 달 (moon)
II. 풀꽃 (wildflowers)
III. 미루나무 (Aspen tree)
IV. 벌새 (hummingbirds)

performance history
나의 여름에게 쓰는 말 (Words I write to my summer) was written as part of a collaborative project between the Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies and the Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS (AOTVA) program at the 2022 Aspen Music Festival and School. It was premiered by Ye Ji Lee (soprano) and Manuel Arellano (piano) in Aspen, CO in August 2022.
July 2022



Piano Quintet No. 1, "Things people have said about death


listen (this is a better quality recording)
watch (for those of you who are more visual oriented)

instrumentation
piano quintet

program note
Piano Quintet No. 1, “Things people have said about death” is my attempt at processing and understanding grief through borrowing other people’s words. Or rather music.

My grandmother passed away in March 2022. After her passing, I felt that sometimes my own words were not enough to express what I was feeling. The sorrow, the emptiness, and the anger were so much bigger than I could comprehend. So I decided to look at how the composers of the past generations that I admire dealt with death and grief in their music. In this piece, you’ll hear quotations of the funeral march from Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, and many other pieces in the canon that don’t necessarily have to do with death. But I realized all of the pieces I quoted are integral to my musical tapestry of right now, and it only made sense to bring in those pieces to talk about someone who is very important to me.

movements
I. Soup
II. March
III. Dance

performance history
Piano Quintet No. 1, "Things people have said about death" was commissioned and premiered by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble (Jacob Schafer, violin; Nathan Lowry, violin; Catherine Chen, viola; Otávio Manzano Kavakama, cello; Derek Wang, piano) in Aspen, CO in August 2022.
June 2022



H. A. N. Y. U. N. I. M.


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instrumentation
voice, viola

program note
Han Yunim is the name of my grandmother who passed away in March 2022. She lived in Seoul, South Korea, and I was not able to fly back home to be at her funeral or be with my family. The process of writing this piece, therefore, was like a personal ritual for me, in which I tried to mourn her death, celebrate her life, and remember her, even when I was so far away from home.

H. A. N. Y. U. N. I. M. is made of four song, and each of them is my letter of some sort to my grandmother, the fourth one being my answer to a letter she wrote me when she was still alive.

movements
I. Jungnang Rose Park
II. Gae-do
III. Jongam-dong
IV. Wherever you are

performance history
H. A. N. Y. U. N. I. M. was premiered by soprano Soomin Kim and violist Harris Bernstein in New Haven, CT in April 2022.
April 2022


Five prayers


instrumentation
steelpans

program note
Written for percussionist Russell Fisher, Five praysers is my attempt at capturing the essence of steelpans. It can be extremely bright and brassy, and incredibly intimate and dear at the same time. The piece jumps back and forth between the loud and unapologetic sections and gentle and lyrical sections.

performance history
Five prayers will be premiered by percussionist Russell Fisher in New Haven, CT in May 2022.
March 2022


star / ghost / mouth / sea


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instrumentation
orchestra

program note
In the beginning of Franny Choi’s book of poetry called Soft Science, the author lists the four keywords – star, ghost, mouth, and sea – that she uses repeatedly throughout the poems in which she explores the themes of identity, technology, gender, and violence, among many. These keywords are used not literally, but metaphorically; “star,” for example, stands for “bright, ancient wound I follow home”; “sea” means “cold ancestor; bloodless womb.”

star / ghost / mouth / sea is a set of four miniatures for orchestra that explore these four metaphors. The miniatures are not literal translations, but my interpretation, of Franny’s words. Her poems not only inspired me but comforted me in times when I struggled to make sense of what it means to look like me, to sound like me, and to be me in this world, in this country.

movements
I. star
II. ghost
III. mouth
IV. sea

performance history
star / ghost / mouth / sea was premiered by the Yale Philharmonia, under the direction of conductor Ryan Tani, in New Haven, CT in December 2021.
November 2021



What Words We Had


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instrumentation
solo guitar

program note
When I got together with guitarist Jiji, and dancer and choreographer Angela Falkvia Zoom for the first time, we quickly learned that we were all drawn to the nuances and complexities of the various emotions we experienced during the pandemic. We’ve felt immensely hopeless at times, feeling stuck and alone; we’ve also experienced unlimited joy, as we continued to make art and express our feelings. Then we realized that these feelings, seemingly at the opposite ends of the spectrum, were much closer to one another. For example, why does it feel really sad when you’re really happy?; is my “pandemic art” cute and relatable, or is it pathetic?; is dancing alone in the living room cool and fun, or is it super lonely?

What Words We Had came about as a result of reflecting on how these intense feelings are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. The middle section of the piece features clips of Angela dancing alone on her birthday and on New Year’s Eve, accompanied by obsessive guitar music that spirals into a manic state. The extended absence of music at the end of the piece evokes a sense of relief and quietude. The title came from Franny Choi’s poem, We Used Our Words We Used What Words We Had.

performance history
What Words We Had was commissioned by Sounding Board Project, new music initiative for guitarists and composers, and premiered virtually by guitarist Jiji and dancer Angela Falk.
June 2021


on solitude


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instrumentation
flute, electronics

program note
In the middle of April 2021, I got a phone call from the contact tracing team that I might have been exposed to COVID-19, and that I had to isolate myself for 10 days. The self-isolation started out feeling like a vacation. I caught up on TV shows that I’ve been wanting to watch, listened to podcasts, and ordered some food without feeling bad about it. I was having a great time, until when I woke up the second day and realized that I had 9 more days to do the exact same thing.

The piece captures various emotions I experienced during the isolation. The solitude was introspective and meditative, but also made me feel stir crazy at times. I have a feeling you know exactly what I’m talking about – we all became masters of solitude, whether voluntarily or not, in this last year. I’d like you to reflect on the feelings and the thoughts you had when you were in your room by yourself, while we listen to this piece of music together.

performance history
on solitude was commissioned and premiered by flutist Meera Gudipati in July 2021. 
April 2021
 

I dreamed of a small blue stone


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instrumentation
viola and chamber orchestra

program note
During the pandemic, I became more of an outdoor person, simply because there was nowhere else to go. I frequented three New Haven Beaches: East Shore Park, Lighthouse Point, and Hammonasset Beach. In the fall, I hiked up Camel’s Hump in Vermont. In the winter, I went to spend the holidays in Lake Superior in Minnesota, and somehow ended up in the Bahamas—I won’t elaborate; it’s complicated—where I swam and sunbathed everyday. Being in nature and seeing beautiful sceneries significantly helped me stay sane in the midst of everything that happened in the last year, both global and personal. As corny as it sounds, nature heals!

performance history
I dreamed of a small blue stone was premiered by violist Harris Bernstein and the Yale Philharmonia under direction of conductor Ryan Tani in New Haven, CT in April 2021.
April 2021


THE EIGHTH SONG


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instrumentation
three violas

program note
THE EIGHTH SONG is a piece for three of my favorite instruments—viola, viola, and viola. If you are a Super Smash Bros fan, you might hear a familiar tune.

performance history
THE EIGHTH SONG was premiered virtually by Chris Rogers-Beadle, Rosemary Nelis, and Harris Bernstein in New Haven, CT in November 2020.
November 2020


Impressions of one winter


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instrumentation
solo viola

program note
Impressions of one winter is a set of six miniatures for solo viola.

movements
I. The Fire Dancers
II. Elegy
II. The Squirrel
IV. Fugue on a Theme by Harris
V. Chicken The Bird
VI. Aqua Reef

performance history
Impressions of one winter was premiered virtually by Harris Bernstein in New Haven, CT in May 2020.

instrumentation
three violas

program note
THE EIGHTH SONG is a piece for three of my favorite instruments—viola, viola, and viola. If you are a Super Smash Bros fan, you might hear a familiar tune.

performance history
THE EIGHTH SONG was premiered virtually by Chris Rogers-Beadle, Rosemary Nelis, and Harris Bernstein in New Haven, CT in November 2020.
April 2020


...does not remember the footprints of birds


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instrumentation
solo marimba

program note
... does not remember the footprints of birds is vaguely about remembrance, and oblivion. Funny enough, I wrote this piece pre-pandemic, and the premiere was delayed by a year, and forgot nearly everything about my process of writing this piece. I do remember, though, that I worked with a few small modules of ideas that acted in accordance with some sort of logic. Revisiting the piece after more than a year, I feel like the piece has very much taken its own meanings, and that the logic that brought this piece to life it’s just a thing of the past. So I’ll just share an excerpt from a poem that the title is based on, “문병”, written by 박준 (Joon Park):

아무것에도
익숙해지지 않아야
울지 않을 수 있다

해서 수면은
새의 발자국을
기억하지 않는다

performance history
... does not remember the footprints of birds was commissioned and premiered virtually by Ji Su Jung in Baltimore, MA in April 2021.
April 2020


my dream journal


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instrumentation
solo piano

program note
my dream journal is a set of seven miniatures about various dreams I had at different times in my life. I was interested in exploring why certain dreams stuck with me while the majority of them faded, and what my dreams tell me about my subconsciousness at different stages of my life.

movements
I. intro
II. yōkai
III. trampoline
IV. fugue: the mirror
V. reflection
VI. the f-hole guitar
VII. outro

performance history
my dream journal was premiered by Jade Conlee in New Haven, CT in February 2020.
January 2020


Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today


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instrumentation
soprano, viola, double bass

program note
Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today explores complex and intricate emotional narrative of Emily Jungmin Yoon's poem of the same title. I instantly fell in love with the poem because of its emotional and textile nature. The poem, revolving around a Korean word "chada" and its numerous meanings, draws attention to how each meaning is connected to the temporal background of the poem—somewhere between October and December.

In this piece, I wanted to capture the separation and the coming together of the cold and bleak reality and the speaker's lively imagination of the word "chada." I juxtaposed two contrasting musical languages that don't seem to blend with each other but eventually come to some sort of agreement or resolution.

performance history
Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today was premiered by Frances Pollock (soprano), Minkyung Lee (viola), and Ross Wightman (double bass) in New Haven, CT in November 2019. The video art was made by Jeonguk Choi.
September 2019


The Fairy and The Woodcutter


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instrumentation
violin, piano

program note
“선녀와 나무꾼 (The Fairy and The Woodcutter)” is the title of a well-known Korean folktale that my generation grew up hearing when we were young. I only recently realized its problematic nature—the story involves stealing and stalking, and reinforces the outdated belief that women don’t have agency over their lives. This piece, therefore, is my re-imagination of the story; it is a version of the story that I personally would have loved to hear growing up.

performance history
The Fairy and The Woodcutter was premiered by Jae Yee Lee (violin), and Sungeun Kim (piano) in Oberlin, OH in May 2019.
April 2019


Nori


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instrumentation
string orchestra

program note
Nori s based on the songs from my childhood that I used to sing when playing games with friends, such as hopscotch. It takes its rhythmic and melodic motives from two of my favorite game songs, which share similar pentatonic melodic profile. Overall, the piece is an impression of the time in which I was the most playful and carefree.

performance history
Nori was read recorded by Oberlin Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Raphael Jiménez in Oberlin, OH in October 2019.
April 2019


Variations on Arirang


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instrumentation
solo marimba

program note
This collaborative project with YoungKyoung is a set of variations based on “Arirang,” which is a folk tune that is close to every Korean’s heart. Each variation highlights different characteristics of Arirang; for example, the first variation introduces the five notes of the scale in the order that they appear in the original folk tune; the fourth one, the longest and the most chromatic, is based on a diminished version of a pentatonic scale. The original tune is finally revealed at the very end with luscious harmonies.

The meaning of the word “Arirang” remains unclear to this day. There are many theories about it; some say that it means the biggest mountain in the city, some say it means farewell, and some say it doesn’t mean anything. Arirang, to me, means resilience and perseverance that my people have shown for centuries in the times of war, colonization, financial crisis and national tragedy. This piece is my homage to the folk tune that has seen Korea through the centuries of hardship and to the people that survived through it.

performance history
Variations on Arirang was recorded by YoungKyoung Lee in August 2019.
February 2019


Four Love Songs


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instrumentation
flute, clarinet, mezzo-soprano, piano, percussion, violin, cello

program note
Four Love Songs explores the theme of love, which I find inseparable from music of all kinds. The text comes from Emily Dickinson’s poems, in which love is something urgent, personal and spontaneous.

movements
I. Love—is anterior to Life
II. What if I say I shall not wait?
III. That I did always love
IV. Wild Nights—Wild Nights!

performance history
Four Love Songs was premiered in Oberlin, OH in November 2019.
September 2018


cycles of light


instrumentation
solo trumpet

program note
The two movements of cycles of light are meant to be played respectively on a C trumpet and a piccolo trumpet. The first half is based on colors of the night sky: delicate mauve, deep purple, and haunting blue. The second half, on the other hand, is based on colors of the day: flaming red, warm orange, and festive blue. The piece highlights both the subtle and intimate qualities and the bright and brassy nature of the trumpet.

performance history
cycles of light was commissioned and premiered by trumpet player Brian Voelz in March 2018.
April 2019


conjunctions


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instrumentation
soprano saxophone, trumpet, piano, percussion, electric guitar, double bass

program note
conjunctions is a set of five miniature that are each based on a conjunction word. I thought it'd be fun to dig into the characteristics of these common conjunctions, and translate them into music. For example, the first movement "and" focuses on the two main uses of the word: listing and adding. The motive is passed around between different instruments, forming one continuous stream—a sentence of sort. At the end of the movement, all of the instruments play the motive, at different tempi, on top of each other, creating a dense vertical texture.

movements
I. and
II. or
III. but
IV. if
V. so

performance history
conjunctions was written for the 2018 Norfolk New Music Workshop and premiered by Perry Roth (sax), Brian Voelz (trumpet), Miles Walter (piano), YoungKyoung Lee (percussion), Eli Greenho (electric guitar), and Ross Wightman (double bass) under the direction of Julian Pellicano in Norfolk, CT in June 2018.
April 2019


Lines of Lerici


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instrumentation
string quartet

program note
In 2017, I took a trip to Italy by myself. I accidentally ended up staying in Lerici, a town in the province of La Spezia in northern Italy, due to some last minute hotel cancellation. I ended up falling in love with the city—the beautiful beach, the buildings that are painted numerous different shades of peach and orange, and the seafood (yum). It was indeed a happy accident.

As it turns out, Lerici is also known as the Gulf of Poets, because this stunning gem of a city has attracted artists and writers for a long time, such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. The title of the piece partially comes from Shelley's poem Lines written in the Bay of Lerici. These are my favorite lines from the poem:

“And the scent of winged flowers,
And the coolness of the hours
Of dew, and sweet warmth left by day, Were scatter'd o'er the twinkling bay.”

performance history
Lines of Lerici was premiered in Cesena, Italy in June 2018.
April 2019


Mu


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instrumentation
sinfonietta

program note
Mu means dance in Korean. In traditional Korean shamanistic rituals called “굿(goot),” dance is considered as a means to transcend oneself and reach the spirits. What fascinated me the most about 굿 were the colorful and animated rhythms of the music and the idea of reaching transcendence through movement.

This piece explores different levels of tension and movement that become gradually cumulated and finally reach the point of transcendence. It begins with a soft and airy chorale and canonic passages, gradually raising tension. Through the dance-like section and pentatonic fugato that follow, the rhythmic and harmonic movements become more active and heightened, finally leading up to climax, the point of transcendence.

performance history
Mu was written for and premiered by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony as part of their 2018 Young & Emerging Composers Project in Bowling Green, OH in April 2018.
March 2018


The Blue Marble


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instrumentation
youth orchestra

program note
I really really dislike airports. I associate them with saying good-bye to my loved ones, and also the excruciating 15-hour or longer flight from home to the U.S., and vice versa. When I think about it, though, there is no place on this planet that I can’t get to in a day. I am literally on the opposite side of the globe from my family, and yet it will only take me a day to go home. This gives me a huge sense of relief and support.

The Blue Marble is a piece that paints this journey; it starts with the airplane taking off, with anxious and heavy block chords, and ends with a realization that no matter how far from home I am, I am never alone.

performance history
The Blue Marble was commissioned and premiered by the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra in Oberlin, OH in March 2018.
December 2017


Suite for Solo Cello


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instrumentation
solo cello

program note
The three movements of the Suite for Solo Cello explores three different kinds of dance: slow dance, fast dance, and free, improvised dance.

performance history
Suite for Solo Cello was read and recorded by Jeffrey Zeigler in Oberlin, OH in April 2017.
April 2017



Sea of City


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instrumentation
bass clarinet, marimba

program note
The inspiration for Sea of City comes from my experience in Seoul—complex (yet highly efficient) subway lines intertwined like a spider web, streets crowded with people, blinding neon signs, horrible traffic, and most importantly, Han river. Han river is a giant river that flows right in the middle of Seoul, literally breathing life into the hectic metropolitan city. I like to think of it as the sea of Seoul, not only because of its expansiveness, but because of the sense of relief that it gives me.

performance history
Sea of City was written for the 2017 Alba Music Festival, and premiered by Transient Canvas in Alba, Italy in May 2017. It was later performed by Alex Dergal (bass clarinet) and Carson Fratus in Oberlin, OH in November 2017.
April 2017


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