Slow, Gradual, Cumulative: Qi II by Sehyung Kim
Humanity has never known a time filled with as many sounds as it experiences today. Whether these sounds are voluntary or involuntary, welcomed or not, depends on who hears them. What is indisputable is that spaces where listening, as opposed to mere hearing, is possible have become refuges from the constant barrage of the outside world.
This surfeit of sound has also found a home in the music of many contemporary composers. To resist the oversaturation of modern life, to return to fundamentals, to compose the equivalent of a cinematic long-shot, is therefore an accomplishment.
In Qi II, Sehyung Kim defies mankind’s ever-shortening attention span with a piece of variable duration, here almost 31 minutes, demanding concentration. On a formal level, the piece is as simple as per aspera ad astra, a glissando from low to high. The score, a single page, specifies vibrato, register and pitch in separate staves; the precise order of its discourse is left open to the decision of each performer.
However, to reduce the musical experience to the playing-out of a scheme is to deny the spaciousness of its argument, and the grandeur that it achieves, not least because of its protean nature: multiple performers could be involved and it could be a bagatelle or an epic. It is, in essence, a study of vibration, the accumulation and release of which is its central aim. It is moreover an arch form, with inaudibility as its termini and vehemence, on the note A, a station reached along the way.
In linking his music for a primal instrument to the concept of qi in Eastern philosophy, the composer taps into bare essentials: breath, energy, life, timelessness — a fount of eternal renewal.
|Title||Qi II for accordionist|
|Year of release||2018|
|Total playing time||30:50|
|Number of tracks||1|
|Recording dates||November 19, 2012|
|Recording venues||Academic Music College of the Moscow Conservatory|
|City, country||Moscow, Russia|
|Recording engineer, editing, mastering||Alexander Raikhelson|
|Others details||Dedicated to Sergej Tchirkov|
“Qi II” for accordionist is a part of my cycle “Qi” for various solo instruments. The concept of this cycle is to immerse the listeners into the inner world of the performer through his own instrument. In fact, this is meditation, which requires extreme concentration and expending a lot of physical energy, both from the performer and from the listener.
The idea of the piece has arisen in the summer of 2012, and later during classes at the II International Academy of Young Composers in the city of Tchaikovsky, where I was lucky to work with such composers as Mark André and Klaus Lang, I completely finished it.
The piece is written in close cooperation with Russian accordionist Sergej Tchirkov and is dedicated to him.
There are two versions of the performance of this piece: compressed — from 8 to 15 minutes and stretched — from 15 to 30 minutes, which is recorded on this audio CD.
In the span of 30 or so minutes, the accordion solo Qi II moves from a low cluster to a unison in the middle register before transforming itself, as if in slow motion, into a high cluster. The superimposition of varied periodic movements yields a rich, almost symphonic, sound. A journey through all registers of the accordion.
In this music, a personality, a composer with roots in the Far East, articulates himself in a language devoid of any eclectic sound-painting. Constantly questing, constantly striving toward new forms, his concentration and focus on what is essential mean that he has already found a sound very much his own.
— Beat Furrer
Sehyung Kim was born in 1987 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Composition classes began at the age of sixteen under the guidance of Bakir Bayakhunov in Almaty Music College. P. I. Tchaikovsky. He studied at the Moscow State Conservatory. P. I. Tchaikovsky (2007-2012), class composition prof. Vladislav Agafonnikov; there he took individual classes with Dmitri Kourliandski and Yuri Kasparov. In 2013-2018 studied at the University of the Arts and Performing Arts in Graz (Austria), composition class by prof. Beat Furrer. From 2019 he is a master’s student in composition and musical theater under prof. Bernhard Lang at the same university in Graz.
Sehyung Kim has been awarded prizes at international competitions “DuoSolo” (USA, 2010), “Step to the left” (Russia, 2012), “de la ville de Boulogne-Billancourt” (France, 2014), winner of the composer competition under the aegis of the 10th international competition “Franz Schubert and the Modern Music” (Austria, 2017), the 7th Johann Joseph Fux opera composition competition (Austria, 2018). Also he participated at the 45th and 47th international summer courses in Darmstadt (Germany, 2010 and 2014), the 2nd, 4th and 5th international academy of young composers in Tchaikovsky city (Russia, 2012, 2014, 2015, the 2nd Ukrainian Biennale for New Music (Ukrain, 2013), etc.
In 2013 he was Composer-in-residence at GAM-Ensemble in Moscow. In 2013 he received a scholarship at the 11th International Ensemble and Composers Academy for Contemporary Music in Graz. In 2015 he received the music prize of the city of Graz “Musikförderungspreis der Stadt Graz”. He has received commissions from many projects and festivals such as “impuls”, “Internationale Musikbrücke und Kulturverein Österreich”, ORF, Jeunesse and others.
Among his performers are: Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, eNsemble (Russia), Nostri Temporis (Ukraine), dissonArt ensemble (Greece), Batida ensemble (Switzerland), Schallfeld ensemble (Austria), Klangforum Wien (Austria), EnsembleSpectrum (Slovakia) and others.
Sergej Tchirkov was born in St. Petersburg and studied the accordion at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire of St. Petersburg. He was awarded prizes at many international competitions and received the scholarship from the European Centre of Arts Hellerau (Dresden).
His dedication to new music has led him to collaborations with composers such as Pierluigi Billone, Ivan Fedele, Dieter Schnebel, Klaus Lang, Gérard Zinsstag, Hanna Eimermacher, John Palmer, Boris Filanovski, Sergej Newski, Arnt H. Ånesen, Martin Schlumpf, Jose-Maria Sanchez-Verdu. More than 100 new works for/with accordion have been premiered by Sergej Tchirkov.
He has played both as a soloist and a member of an orchestra, including with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, the St.Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Musica Aeterna ensemble, Neue Dresdner Kammermusik, the KNM Ensemble Berlin and more, under the direction of Valery Gergiev, Teodor Currentzis, Timothy Redmond, Federico Mondelci. Other collaborations include various projects with the Pro Arte foundation eNsemble (St. Petersburg), Studio for New Music, Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble (Moscow), Batida Ensemble (Geneva), IRCAM (Paris), Trio with Peter Veale and Seth Josel (acc., ob., guitar) and more.
Tchirkov has been a guest lecturer at many european universities and academies of music including Zurich University of Arts, Art University of Graz, Gothenburg University, Norwegian Academy of music Oslo, Geneva Conservatory, Kuopio Conservatory of Music, Kazakh National University of Arts Astana and often adjudicates at international competitions.
In 2011–2014 he taught at the International New Music Academy organized by the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble.
Sergej Tchirkov works as a lecturer and performer at the Centre of Contemporary Music at Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory and is assistant artistic director of the Studio for New Music ensemble Moscow.