Wednesday, December 07, 2005

So I whined to a friend about it being what passes for cold here.

Then I went to a thing at the Main Library with music by Hyo-shin Na (who was there and great to hear talk) played by the Del Sol String Quartet, who obviously were totally into playing this music, their bows going up and down all happy and intense. New classical style music, like this was, is a bit of a stretch for me, but one thing that always appeals is that the people who have chosen the path of new music love being on that path. The folks were just shining with the pioneering, not-nineteenth centuryness of it all.

One thing Hyo-shin Na said about them with intense gratitude is they rehearse a lot, something a new music composer clearly doesn't always get.

The first piece they played was "Song of the Beggars" which was based on two things.

It was based on a Korean folk song about beggars who would travel from one weekly or twice a week fair in Korea in the old days, and it's winter, and they are singing "shouldn't my parents have given me a better life than this."

"Song of the Beggars" was also based on a Shubert song about an organ grinder in Germany in winter. His fingers are cold and stiff; he keeps playing. The dogs bark at him; people ignore him; he keeps playing. He does the best he can.

The music embodies struggle; lots of fighting-type feeling, like the winter weather trying to get at the beggars in Korea and the organ grinder in Germany and make them give up. The first note is a long note played by the violist, a deep note as long as his slow slow bow could make it. Na Hyo-shin said she wrote it that way to show what it like when it's really hard. You repress everything and continue to struggle on a note that stays the same and leaves a lot and and is low.

So much for whining about California winter.

The Del Sol Quartet has existed in this particular combination of four people for about three years. They went through a time of playing music from the Americas, North and South. Which means twentieth and twenty-first century music as no one in the Americas was composing classical style music for the string quartet or any of its instruments before 1900.

Now they are playing music of the Pacific Rim, also post-1900. They thought of Na Hyo-shin, who was born in Korea, trained in composing in Korea and the U.S. and lives in San Francisco. Charlton Lee, of the quartet, said her excellent reputation and following in San Francisco helped them get funding for her big idea.

Because when they asked her to do something, she thought of sharing. She said how about bringing over five women composer from Korea and you learn something by each of them and something by me.

They like to rehearse. They like to learn new music by composer who weren't born in Austria or Germany. And, like I said, she has a reputation that makes grant getting easier.

So, this Friday, the Del Sol Quarter plays pieces at the Yerba Buena Center by six Korean women composers, all of whom will be there.

Del Sol Quartet

Friday, December 9, 2005 8 p.m.
Yerba Buena Center Forum
3rd and Mission
San Francisco CA