In 2020 I was lucky enough to be selected for participation in the Canadian Music Centre’s Weisgarber Workshop, a free, 2-month long online series of seminars for emerging composers under 30. The goal of these workshops is to further Elliot Weisgarber’s groundbreaking work of fusing Western and Eastern instruments and performance practices. The 2020 workshop featured Corey Hamm and Nicole Ge Li’s PEP (Piano and Erhu Project) and Composer Mentor Edward Top. PEP commissions, performs, and records composers’ new works for this unique ensemble.

When I started writing this piece, I did not know much about the Erhu’s history, cultural background, and repertoire. So, I listened to lots of works for solo Erhu as well as Erhu ensembles and tried to incorporate some of what I heard into my piece. This included the use of pentatonic collections in the fast middle-section, as well as a monophonic texture with rhythmic trade- offs and interjections between the two instruments. Before writing this piece, I also needed to educate myself by meeting with the Erhu player, Nicole Li, who taught me about the technical capabilities of the instrument and worked with me to write an idiomatic and successful part. I hope that by participating in this project, and by writing a piece that aimed to combine my Western music background with Chinese music influences, I helped in PEP’s mission to bring more diversity to the new music scene and to showcase music’s international communicating power.

Henry From