New Music at Carnegie Hall: Carnegie Hall Commissions
Commission at a Glance
Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain
Angel Lam
Recorded on September 13, 2006
at Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood Music Center

Gascia Ouzounian, Violin; Wouter Vercruysse, Cello; Jeffrey Beecher, Bass; Kojiro Umezaki, Shakuhachi; Shane Shanahan, Percussion; Rod Thomas Squance, Percussion


Notes on the Work

Angel Lam grew up in Hong Kong and Los Angeles and is now a doctoral candidate at Peabody Conservatory. She has attended music festivals worldwide since her days as an undergraduate, and her compositions have been performed in Hong Kong, Japan, United States, Austria, France, Korea, and Argentina. Recent performances include the premiere of her Symphonic Journal: Ambush from Ten Directions by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta and the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest in Chicago and the premiere of her piano quintet Secrets and Ice Garden at Johns Hopkins University. Upcoming works include a commission from King’s Harmonica Quintet at the Hong Kong Musicarama Festival, a theatre composition mentored by American theater artist Martha Clarke, and a duet for guitar and percussion to be performed in France and Japan.

About Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain, Ms. Lam writes:

This piece is dedicated to a memory of my grandmother.

Thirty minutes passed but Grandma still hadn’t arrived. My kindergarten class sat on top of a hill, overlooking a narrow street with a muddy pedestrian pathway alongside traffic. It was another hot summer day; the aggressive sun seemed to slow my time but activated the scenery in front of me. Trees moved in the heat like monsters stretching their palms; pedestrians walked slowly, dragged by their long shadows.

Suddenly, it rained, but the sun still shone. I decided to run home. I was only five. I sprinted down that busy street, people were shouting behind me, like low-pitched murmurings of ancient emperors. The sounding of horns screamed sharply with long mystic tails …

When a distant temple bell drummed, I saw Grandma—her peaceful smile, and an air of gracefulness that is memorable to this day. This time she seemed bigger … when I reached out to touch her, she floated through me and I turned around, the sun shone directly into my eyes, and Grandma disappeared into the core of the afternoon sun. The evening sun suddenly closed, and rain stopped.

When I got home, everybody was crying, but I did not cry. I went to my little desk and started a letter:

Dear Grandma …