EN ROUTE for Solo Violin (2023) - 11'
NEW ALBUM Release EN ROUTE:
Commissioned by Gillian Smith
When Canadian violinist Gillian Smith asked me to write a piece for solo violin about the unheard voices, I immediately thought about my Taiwanese heritage. Being A Taiwanese-Canadian composer studying in the United States has given me a unique perspective in my life. I know I had to write a piece honouring my two homes: Taiwan and Canada. Since the completion of this work, I haven’t been able to go back to Taiwan for 2 years, and when nostalgia hits, it hits hard. In this piece, we begin with the traffic lights of Halifax, taking me on a journey back to my hometown in Taiwan; during the journey, there are quotes of Nova Scotian folk song, and a variation of the traditional Taiwanese hit “Bang-Chun Feng.”
Prelude #2 for Solo Piano (2023) - 4'
Dedicated to Meng Wang.
“Sparse” for Guitar and Marimba (2021) – 5’
Commissioned by East Chamber Music's Emerging Composer Festival in October, 2021
“Sparse” for Guitar and Marimba is an etude-like miniature that incorporates minimalistic techniques to stretch my materials as much as possible. During this piece, the motifs are passed between the two instruments and slowly merge into one.
“mememto mori” for solo cello (2021) – 9’
Commissioned by the Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival in August, 2021
“memento mori” for solo cello is inspired by Albert Camus’s La Peste and the ‘absurdity of death.” Coming out of the pandemic, our attitudes towards death have since changed. I wanted to explore the theme of mortality and how we must live each moment to the fullest. Through the alternation between fixed pitches and harmonics, linear and horizontal motifs; “memento mori” focuses on existence, deterioration, and transcendence, to remind us that death is one day inevitable.
“Glass Cage” for Xiao and Guqin (2021) – 4’
Commissioned by the US-China Institute of Bard College in July, 2021
"Glass Cage" is a homage to both my studies of Traditional Chinese Music and the New York School, particularly with John Cage and Philip Glass, whose works have been influenced by I-Jing, the famous Chinese literature.
“Souvenir” for Solo Violin (2021) – 6’
“Souvenir” has its roots from a conversation I had with Kazakh violinist Ainur Tulendiyeva about the theme of remembrance. Originally she wanted me to write a piece about the Kazakh famine of 1931-1933. Understanding the gravity of this tragedy, I wanted this piece to not only be inspired, but also influenced by the traditional Kazakh folk music such as the sound of Dombra and Kobyz. “Souvenir” takes this theme of loss and through the sounds of Kazakh, transforming the piece into hopefulness and remembrance.
“NOIR”- Cadenza for Solo Flute (2021) – 4’
“With the lights out, it’s less dangerous”-------- Kurt Cobain, 1991
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Wu has been heavily influenced by the concept of “Nocturne,” its romanticism, its unpredictability, and the beautiful chaos that comes with it. In NOIR, the cadenza for solo flute not only showcases the virtuosity of the flute, but also the sounds and textures one can achieve given a certain musical parameter.
“Without Shadows” for Solo Harp (2021) – 7’
Maud Lewis has been such an inspirational artist for me, the colour and the display of innocence and resilience has always moved me as I look through her paintings at the Nova Scotia Art Gallery. Throughout the years I have always wanted to compose a piece that is either based on Lewis’s paintings or her life; and I am able to incorporate both aspects in Without Shadows. I sincerely hope that this piece not only showcased what Lewis had went through, but also our shared views of Nova Scotia.
“Nocturnal” for Viola and Cello (2020/2021) – 9’
From the historical point of view, Nocturnes are often depicted as a composition inspired by the night with romantic and dreamy characteristics. In Nocturnal, Wu describes his view of the night in his own romantic way. Just like the COVID-19 pandemic, the night is dark and unpredictable. In this piece, the composer chose the combination of strings in the lower register; and creates a haunting soundscape by using different extended techniques on the viola and cello.
“The Fifth Business” for Solo Viola (2019) – 9’
“Those roles which, being neither those of Hero nor Heroine, Confidante nor Villain, but which were none the less essential to bring about the Recognition or the denouement were called the Fifth Business in drama and Opera companies organized according to the old style; the player who acted these parts was often referred to as Fifth Business.”--- Robertson Davies, 1970. Inspired by a quote from Robertson Davies’s same titled novel, The Fifth Business for Unaccompanied Viola combines the concept of twelve-tone rows, tonal and atonal melodies to depict a journey from absurdity to illumination.
“Prelude” for Solo Piano (2018) – 4’
Minimalism has been one of my main influences of 2018. It is fascinating to see how a melodic fragment can grow and expand into a larger piece yet still maintain its original simplicity. Prelude for Solo Piano starts this recital with a simple minor fragment with variations and phasing. A great gratitude to pianist Peter Allen for premiering this piece. It means a lot to me since Peter also premiered my first piano composition two years ago, and it is always a pleasure hearing his performances.
“The Tell-Tale Heart” Fantasia for Clarinet and Piano (2017) – 6’
Commissioned by the highSCORE Festival in August, 2017
The Tell-Tale Heart: Fantasia for Clarinet and Piano, Op.4 is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s haunting short story of describing a murder from the murderer’s point of view. The piece follows the story of how the narrator murders the old man and later on confessed by hearing the dead old man’s heart “beating” under the floors. The fantasia itself is composed with many elements of the leitmotif. The opening theme on the clarinet is the narrator’s theme, it reoccurs over and over throughout the piece in different colours to show the narrator’s inner emotion. The piano’s melody represents the old man and the beating heart. The cadenzas in this composition symbolized any significant moments in the story.
Suite for Solo Piano “The Ritual” (2016) – 10’
The Ritual is a twelve- tone suite written for solo piano. It depicts a fictional ritual that was inspired by various art forms such as music, paintings, and films. Particularly from the following three: Eli Roth’s 2014 horror film The Green Inferno, Ary Scheffer’s 1848 painting Faust and Mephistopheles, and the Rite of Spring (Igor Stravinsky) segment from Walt Disney’s animated film Fantasia in 1940. The Ritual is separated into three movements: Prelude, where the protagonist (P0) tries to escape from all the other row forms, like a prey escaping from its hunter. In the Interlude, the protagonist has been captured and is interrogated by the antagonists (every row other than P0) in a “civilized” way to convince P0 to become one of them. The Finale depicts the actual ritual being performed against the protagonist’s will as the protagonist tries to make its final attempt to escape. The fate of the protagonist is ambiguous and it depends on the performer’s style to end this piece. Concept of The Ritual is very abstract, as a composer, I am trying to develop a scenario of a minor being overpowered by a major force. This action can vary from a simple argument between two individuals to a major conflict between worlds. As a tribute to all the conflicts happening now, may humanity finds its peace sooner than later.