Call for Consortium Participants: Flute + Percussion Quartet by Composer Juri Seo

Flutist Tessa Brinckman and percussionist Terry Longshore (duo Caballito Negro) are inviting flutists and percussionists to participate in a unique co-commission for a double flute/percussion duo (therefore a quartet). Juri Seo , a composer known for her rich, versatile and virtuosic musical languages has been asked to create a 12-14 minute, two movement, work.

Juri describes here her proposed piece:

Umwelt, the German word for environment, is used in biology to denote the perceptual world as experienced by a specific organism. I encountered the term in Ed Yong’s recent book An Immense World, but it has been in use since its introduction in 1909 by the German biologist Jakob von Uexküll. While our perception is limited to our own Umwelt, we can imagine the other animal’s Umwelten by studying their physiology and behaviors. The attempt at this impossible task of exiting the self-centered perception is a deeply human endeavor that I would like to engage in this new work for flute and percussion. 

I imagine the work to be in two movements that lasts between twelve and fourteen minutes — the first movement inspired by birds, and the second by bats and spiders. Songs, vibrations, and echos are the primary themes. The four performers will surround the audience to create a quadraphonic experience.   

In the first movement, the audience is invited to listen like a bird, become a bird via music. While it is impossible to reside in two Umwelten simultaneously, I believe that the music can reveal the continuum between listening as a bird and listening as a human over the course of the work. We could, for example, play around with the degrees of complexity within birdsong-like musical phrases, sometimes presenting them slowly and sometimes creating sensory overload. (Experiments show that birds listen faster. Birds respond differently to the calls that sound the same to the human ear. We can only hear the difference when the sound is slowed down substantially.) 

In the second movement, I imagine the venue will be darkened to diminish our hyperactive visual perception. Neither bats or spiders rely primarily on vision as most humans do. The music can represent the vibrations of the web experienced by spiders or the mental maps created by echolocating bats. Both vibrations and echos have a wide variety of fascinating musical applications, and bats’ speed can be an inspiration for an invigorating finale. 

The instrumentation will be for various sizes of flutes—alto, regular, and piccolo—as well as small auxiliary instruments like ocarinas, whistles, and recorders. The percussion setup will be kept minimal with portability in mind, and will likely consist of a vibraphone and many small instruments—chimes, guiros, woodblocks, crotales, shakers, etc.

We are excited to invite musicians to be part of this consortium. To receive the invite with all the details, or share names of people who might be interested, please use the contact form on this website.