Nü kuan tzu (1996)

Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Bass Trombone, 2 Percussion, Piano/Sampler (one-player), Violin, Viola, Cello, Contrabass, and Pre-Recorded CD


Commissioned by the NEA.


Nü kuan tzu is a nine movement twenty-two minute piece commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts and completed in 1996. It is scored for soprano, mezzo soprano, and eleven instrumentalists. The textual makeup of the piece is perhaps its most distinguishing characteristic. The work uses source texts (both pre-recorded and sung) from Sung Dynasty “music poems” (in two dialects) in combination with poems by Appolinaire and Rimbaud. Digitally sampled texts are interwoven with the live singers who are sometimes singing in French, Chinese, or combinations of the two languages. Each movement is very different stylistically and ranges from impressionism to microtonal music to pop.

Read reviews for Nü kuan tzu

CRI Emergency Music, New World Records NWCR831, Prism Players, Brad Lubman, cond.

C.F. Peters Corporation

Texts by Wen T'ing Yün, Appolinaire and Rimbaud.

Notable Performances

February, 27, 2001, Sequitur, Merkin Hall, New York City
October 11, 2001 Speculum Musicae, Merkin Hall, New York City, in conjunction with the ACO Orchestra Tech Festival
April 18, 1999, Contemporary Chamber Players, Mandel Hall, Chicago
April 17, 1998, IU New Music Ensemble, Auer Hall, Bloomington
February 7, 1998, Prism Players, Bellefield Auditorium, Pittsburgh
March 20, 1995, The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Levy Hall, Pittsburgh


Nü kuan tzu performed by Kristen Norderval, soprano; Mary Nessinger, mezzo soprano; Prism Players; Brad Lubman, conductor