Raymond Yiu

Tranced Summer Night
for string quartet

duration: 12 minutes

Tranced Summer Night

As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
Those green-robed senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir.

‘Hyperion: A Fragment’ (1820) – John Keats (1795-1821)

At the time when I started composing this string quartet, I had a recurring dream in which I was observing an immense sculpture in a dark exhibition hall with limited light source. I never got to see the entire object; but by observing it bit by bit, I figured out roughly what that sculpture looked like – but never got to see it properly. This dream remained for quite a while, and that sculpture was usually different every time. Finally I decided to use it as a starting point for the central movement of this piece – in which a lute song by John Dowland is being ‘observed’.

As this piece is a realisation of a dream, its structure reflects the process of dreaming – a rather personal interpretation. First movement represents a semiconscious state in which one’s thoughts become blur, the boundary between reality and dream is disappearing. After ‘observing’ the Dowland song, the mood changes as we leap from one dream into another one without any interruption. Materials from the previous two movements are re-used and developed. The eventual return of music from the first movement signals the beginning of the awakening.

Raymond Yiu is a composer and jazz pianist. Born in Hong Kong, 1973, he started piano lessons at the age of four and began writing music as a teenager. He came to England in 1990. He took up composing again while he was studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Imperial College, from where he graduated in 1996. Having attended music college, Raymond is mainly self-taught. He has made contacts with several British and American composers out of admiration of their music, particularly Lukas Foss. He is currently editing a work by Foss and undertaking research on his music.

While working as an analytical programmer, he has studied composition privately with Graham Williams. He has also received informal consultations from several composers including Lukas Foss, David Matthews and David Sawer. Works in progress include a chamber piece to be premiered in Bridge Hampton, New York, at Lukas Foss's invitation in the summer of 2000, a musical theatre piece in collaboration with the lyricist Eric Presland, and a concerto for violin and chamber orchestra. Future plans include a piano concerto based on the life of the jazz composer/arranger Bill Strayhorn.

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