Chamber Music in Santa Fe & CMS National Conference

This past weekend, I visited Santa Fe, NM for the first time for a concert with enhake as well as our performance/presentation at the College Music Society's National Conference. The town was truly beautiful, and the wonderful weather only made the trip even more pleasant. There were many elements of challenges, however, as it was our first time flying with our 5-month old daughter. Fortunately, she was an incredible baby all throughout, and we were able to survive some pretty hectic schedule. 

New Mexico Museum of the Art

CMS Conference Performance at St. Francis Auditorium at the Museum

Post Concert Picture with enhake

As a part of our presentation on Thursday, I performed enhake a program entitled "Mixed Quartet inspired by the American Southwest." It featured three compositions: Gulfstream by Peter Lieuwen, Red Vesper by David Biedenbender, and Rodeo Queen of Heaven by Libby Larsen. 

Another great perk about this trip was getting to hang out with my wonderful colleagues and friends. enhake boasts an increasingly growing family, and it was very special to see our babies all gathered together! We enjoyed some great sight-seeing, fine dining experience, and many shops all over the downtown. Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi was particularly impressive with its interesting history, many notable relics, etc.  

enhake family getting things together after a lunch

What a surprise to find this plaque at Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Our evening recital at the Southwest Arts was quite satisfying, and we were thrilled to have Peter Lieuwen and David Biedenbender attend our concert. 

Post recital picture of enhake with David and Peter

TAMU Residency - September 2015

TAMU Department of Performance Studies

Kim-Choi Duo spent a wonderful weekend of September in College Station, TX, giving a recital, lecture and masterclasses to highly energetic group of Aggies! We brought with us some of our newly learned repertoire including Peter Lieuwen's Bright River and Bernstein Sonata as well as our old favorites such as Devienne's Sonata and Martinu's Sonatina. It was great to play Bright River for Peter at his own university. 

Kim-Choi Duo performing at the Rudder Theatre

The following day, both of us gave master classes for clarinet and piano students. I particularly enjoyed collaborating with the TAMU Department of Anthropology for my lecture entitled "The Influence of Traditional Korean Music on Contemporary Music." I have had a number of opportunities since graduate school to explore this particular topic and felt both comfortable and sufficiently informed to give a short lecture. Since the majority of the audience did not have formal musical background, I focused on two particular examples where the Traditional Korean Music and Western Contemporary music intersect: the musical borrowing of famous (and very pleasant) Korean traditional melodies such as Arirang, and more intricate but subtle adaptation by composers such as Isang Yun (mainly through the concept of "Hauptton"). I was able to give some demonstration showcasing various unfamiliar but fascinating musical practices in Korean tradition. I am intrigued by the potential in this fusion and look forward to investigating this topic further. 

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture 

Parallel between the Eastern calligraphy and the concept of Korean music

Taoist principles in Korean traditional music

Demonstrating modern techniques that emulate practices in Korean traditional music 

Our friend Peter was such a gracious host and invited us for the evening at his incredible estate. We had marvelous time enjoying his beautiful lake and talked about some more collaborative projects to come!

Our friend Peter had this beautiful private lake behind his house. The dock floats around!

Our friend Peter had this beautiful private lake behind his house. The dock floats around!

Some high-speed exploration!

Some high-speed exploration!

ICA ClarinetFest 2015 Madrid, Spain

It was a great privilege to be invited to perform at the 2015 ClarinetFest in Madrid, Spain. I spent a week of July in this beautiful city, meeting some amazing clarinetists and friends, playing great music, and enjoying plenty of sightseeing. My recital featured two American works for clarinet and piano: Leonard Bernstein's Clarinet Sonata and Peter Lieuwen's new work, Bright River (2014), with this performance being the official European Premiere. I was thrilled to be joined by my friend Sasha from London. 

After the recital with pianist Sasha

Excerpts from my ClarinetFest recital prepared by Silverstein Works

Grand Entrance to Conde Duque

I was also delighted that Peter (the composer) flew all the way with his wonderful wife attended our concert with his nephew who happened to be living in Madrid. It was the first time Peter heard Bright River being performed. I am looking forward to see him again during my residency at Texas A&M University in College Station, TN in September where I will perform this work again. 

Post recital dinner at a local restaurant, where I had a kangaroo burger!

Despite my unfamiliarity with this part of Europe, there was something very elegant yet approachable in this city. A great deal of vibrancy and wonderful foods...

View from my room in Madrid

Due to a last-minute absence by a clarinetist in KoMo Clarinet Quartet, I was invited to fill in the spot for their concert at the end of the week. I not only got to play some fun music, but was very fortunate to become good friends with Useon, Geonju and Maxine, all wonderful musicians and people!

@Madrid Conservatory with the members of Komo Quartet

Dinner at an extremely fancy restaurant in downtown with my friends from Silverstein Works, Calvin and BK (CEO and President) 

with Karl Leister

Among many other things I got to do in Madrid, the visit to Muso Prado singularly stands out. The museum houses some of the greatest works that are familiar to us. I was more impressed by its unique organization and distinct taste of the Spanish monarchs who curated the selections throughout past many centuries.

Muso Nacional del Prado

Special 10-piece Picasso Exhibit @ Museo Prado 

Bringing New Music into Life: Collaboration with the Composer Peter Lieuwen

Peter Lieuwen's Bright River (2014) written for me and Grace will receive its world premiere on July 21st at Lyceum Chamber Music Series in Alexandria, VA. The work will also be performed at ICA's ClarinetFest in Madrid, Spain later in July. 

I first met Peter in 2009 while working on his piece, Gulfstream, as a member of enhake, during our emerging years as graduate students at Florida State University. We were invited to perform Peter’s work at the opening recital of FSU’s biennial New Music Festival, and this very difficult piece prompted us to put an untold amount of time and effort on learning it intimately. In the end, we became personally attached to the work and gave a very satisfying performance. Peter, who were present at the recital, became a good friend of ours. Since then, enhake has given about 15 additional performances of Gulfstream at various places, including Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and Texas A&M University (College Station, where everything from rental car to hotel room seemed to be extra large), where Peter is a faculty member and composer-in-residence. We also recorded the work for our 2011 Naxos album, which was later entitled “Gulfstream”! The CD received number of rave reviews and was selected as recording of the month by major journals such as BBC Music Magazine and MusicWeb International. Now thinking back, it is truly amazing how a serendipitous first meeting can lead to such exciting venture! I always advise my students to cherish every opportunity they get to meet with new colleagues as you never know where it will lead them. 

enhake with Peter Lieuwen during their residency at Texas A&M - College Station, TX in 2009

Few years after I started working at TTU and joined its faculty ensemble, Cumberland Quintet, Peter asked me if we would be interested in looking at his recent woodwind quintet entitled Windjammer. Fortunately, my quintet colleagues are always after exploring new works and agreed to commit to learn and record the piece. The unrelenting pacing of Windjammer demanded utmost stamina from all members of the quintet and posed a myriad of challenges, but the piece really grew on us in the end. Our quintet recorded the piece on August 2013 with the help of Peter and his recording engineer Brad Sayles who works for the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and the CD was recently released on MSR Record

Burgess Fall in Cookeville, TN

During Peter and Brad’s visit to Cookeville, I had a chance to take them to nearby Burgess Fall. It is a quite impressive site without being too overwhelming. Peter’s music is often “inspired by nature and legend,” and I particularly enjoyed his reference to water. I asked him if he would be willing to write a clarinet-piano duo for me and my wife, and Peter graciously agreed to move the project forward. 

Peter and Brad enjoying a pool game at my house during their visit to Cookeville

Peter already wrote several works for the clarinet, including a concerto for clarinet and orchestra, “River of Crystal Light,” written for the renowned British clarinetist David Campbell. Below is the YouTube link to Campbell’s recording of "River of Crystal Light":

"River of Crystal Light" (1999) for Clarinet, Harp, Piano and Strings David Campbell, clarinet/Texas Music Festival Orchestra conducted by Franz Anton Krager from Albany TROY928 An attractive array of shimmering, shuddering sonorities. The music of the outstanding American composer Peter Lieuwen has been described by The New York Times as "an attractive array of shimmering, shuddering sonorities."

I was thrilled to receive the final draft of our piece Bright River from Peter last September. This was the most exciting commission for our husband-wife duo to date, and we have been preparing hard since the start of this summer for our upcoming premiere and performances. After several years of ongoing collaboration, I became so familiar with Peter’s musical language and sound world. It helped me greatly in conceptualizing the musical ideas, and I knew exactly how I wanted to bring the score into the performance. As a result, past few weeks of my work has been mainly dealing with various issues on technical execution and acoustic realization.

An example of ever-ascending phrases which require a great deal of tonal and dynamic control

Some passages require extra attention to the acoustics of our instrument: how we want the music to sound versus how it actually sounds

Peter's use of extreme range of the clarinet in some of the most delicate and melodic passages poses many challenges. By taking greater liberty  on dynamic and articulation, I sometimes had to come up with creative ways to produce the desired sound and effect. The piano part also turned out to be quite hard with non-repeating patterns which involve very difficult fingerings. All of these problems are worth overcoming as the piece is completely filled with shimmering beauty, rapturous joy, and scintillating colors. As our ensemble has made a significant progress over the past few weeks, I feel such raw enthusiasm I have not experienced from playing new music in a while. Both I and Grace are truly looking forward to introducing Bright River to our audiences in our upcoming concerts. If you are attending this year's ClarinetFest, please plan on coming to my recital on the 22nd!

Here is the composer's program note:

The inspiration for Bright River (2014) is found in the visual and auditory intricacies of rivers as they evolve from rivulets and continually fluctuate between waterfalls, violent rapids and tranquil pools as the terrain changes.  In Bright River the piano presents a constant flowing motion that is placid and lyrical in some passages while spirited and syncopated in others.  The clarinet presents a bold awakening introductory gesture and weaves in and out of the musical fabric as the piece moves forward.  Drama and tension are enhanced with pandiatonic sections juxtaposed with those employing the diminished (half-step/whole-step) scale.  The melody is often presented  “in harmony” at the interval of the 7th or 9th creating a translucent musical aura.

Bright River was written for and is dedicated to Wonkak Kim and Grace Choi.

On our recent Facetime "rehearsal" with Peter Lieuwen

On our recent Facetime "rehearsal" with Peter Lieuwen

[Press Clipping] Enhake Quartet at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall

An article from New York Concert Review published on May 3, 2010

ENHAKE QUARTET by David LaMarche


MAY 3, 2010

An evening of works by five living composers was presented by the Enhake Quartet from Florida State University on May 3rd. The members of this foursome, all impressive soloists and adept chamber musicians, made strong cases for each of the compositions on this program. One of the defining characteristics of the Enhake is rock-solid rhythmic integrity which was evident from the start of “Breakdown Tango” by the composer John Mackey. Propelled by the violinist M. Brent Williams’ driving sixteenth note ostinato, each of the other players added a layer of complexity until the grand climax gives way to a lonely habanera solo on cello. Throughout the tango, clarinetist Wonkak Kim wove his sultry, stylized melodies into the fabric. Much of this piece feels as though it has quotation marks around it, yet in spite of that, it is well crafted and benefited from precise ensemble.

Two movements of Kris Maloy’s “Quartet in Four Actions” entitled “Slink” and “Float” further proved the quartet’s strengths in balance, intonation, and musicality. The simple arc of “Slink”, with its slowly blossoming minor third motive, was beautifully paced and modulated. At the outset of “Float”, cellist Jayoung Kim spun a legato line of great elegance, the initial voice in an expansively lyrical canon. As the music spiraled downward in dynamic and pulse, the players handled their challenges with poise.

Libby Larsen’s “Rodeo Queen of Heaven” proved to be the most harmonically adventurous composition in a decidedly conservative program. It commenced with a burst of activity. As the pianist Eun Hee Park held a tenacious pedal note, her colleagues embarked upon an almost improvisational extended fantasia. Ms. Larsen asks the performers of this piece to extend the boundaries of traditional technique, and Enhake is ideally suited to the task. This was a polished, yet spontaneous performance.

Peter Lieuwen’s “Gulfstream”, which opened the second half, was quite obviously programmatic in its deft evocation of the swirling waters of that grand body of water. Again, Eun Hee Park provided a solid foundation of fluent pianism, at times industrious, and then gently undulating. Along the way, Mr. Kim showed his impressive range in a quasi cadenza-like solo for clarinet. This was not an ambitious work, but well structured and idiomatic in its writing.

For sheer enjoyment, it would be hard to beat Peter Schickele’s “Quartet in A” as a program finale. In four clearly defined movements, the composer employs elements of French salon music, American jazz, and Eastern European folk dance, complete with off-kilter meter changes. Mr. Schickele knows how to feature his musicians, providing them with meaty, virtuosic rifts, and intuitively musical passages which just seem fun to play.

I look forward to hearing Enhake again soon, and by then I hope they will have been able to commission an even greater range of works for their growing repertory. They are excellent artists and technicians who present thoroughly prepared performances.