The three movements of these broken wings concentrate on three different physical and musical challenges. The first movement consists of music that requires incredible stamina and intense concentration. Sad, falling gestures dominate the slow second movement, and I gave the vague but hopefully inspiring instruction that the players should drop things when they are not playing. In the last movement I wanted to make a music that danced and pushed forward, in the hope that it would encourage the musicians to do so as well.
Following from their debut concert at SIFA, Ensemble Æqulibrium, led by music director Lien Boon Hua, returns to the digital SIFA stage for the Singapore premiere of American composer David Lang’s these broken wings. Shifting from relentless momentum, to eerie calm and dance-like exuberance, Ensemble Æquilibrium offers a new gaze on this piece, drawing parallels between its three movements and the unimaginable global transformations as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. Conceived as a dynamic film tableaux, directed by Sean Harrison, the work offers us a moment to reflect on the year passed, through music and image.
Note from Ensemble Æquilibrium’s Music Director Lien Boon Hua
David Lang’s these broken wings best embodies my experience of 2020. The first part of the piece is energetic, exciting and relentless - much like the hectic pace of life in Singapore in the pre-COVID world. Individual lines in the first movement don't conform to any pattern, each having its independent and unique trajectory but somehow fitting seamlessly into each other like clockwork. The outbreak of the pandemic placed the world on pause, and I hold a particular nostalgia for the early days of Circuit Breaker to control the spread of the virus. The second part of the piece (passacaille) is an introspective contrast to the first, and much like how the bustling streets were suddenly emptied out and familiar sites were devoid of people, the music is sparse and fragile. For some, this period of lockdowns was claustrophobic, and some saw their lives falling apart, much like the falling objects in this movement unplanned and unexpected. The last part, aptly titled learn to fly, we seek to mend our own broken wings and pulse ahead towards the light at the end of the tunnel with hope. Some things in the world will have to change, so are we looking at it seriously and reflecting upon these fundamental problems? Are vaccines just the temporary band-aid we need to get on with life?
Carolin Ralser, flute
Daniel Yiau, clarinet
Gabriel Lee, violin
Martin Jaggi, cello
Bertram Wee, piano
Derek Koh, percussion
Lien Boon Hua, conductor
Recording Producer: Brandon Wong
Director of Photography: Sean Harrison
2nd Camera: Choo Wansy
Lighting Designer: Low Wee Cheng