Tears of Nature


Peter Shin

Introspective, referential, and observant, the music of Peter S. Shin 신세종 strives in reach of others. His work investigates issues of social and national belonging, the co-opting and intermingling of disparate musical vernaculars, and the liminality between the two halves of his second-generation Korean-U.S. American identity. The New York Times described him as “a composer to watch” and his music “entirely fresh and personal” following his premiere at Carnegie Hall.

Highlights include a performance of his electroacoustic dance work Screaming Shapes  at the Walt Disney Concert Hall; an orchestral commission by John Adams and Deborah O’Grady for the Cabrillo Festival (Hypercolor, 2018); the chamber orchestral work Hyo commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra which explores his family’s immigration story; and the on-going Hallyu Inventions series which contends with the globalization of South Korean contemporary culture known as the “hallyu wave” via the sounds of K-Pop.

Recent and upcoming projects include the release of Bits torn from the words about the reclamation of his mother tongue on the vocal band Roomful of Teeth’s latest studio album; new works for Friction Quartet, Ensemble intercontemporain, Tanglewood, Kaleidoscope, and an evening-length collaboration with Wild Up and Roomful of Teeth.

Peter has received both the Charles Ives Scholarship and Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright fellowship, and commissions from the Harvard University Fromm Music Foundation, American Composers Forum, and Chamber Music America. He has participated in programs by the orchestras of Minnesota, St. Louis, and Berkeley, and in the music festivals of Tanglewood, Aspen, and IRCAM (Paris, FR).

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Shin is a second-generation Korean-U.S. American and the son of South Korean immigrants who have called the U.S. home for over 30 years. With degrees from the University of Michigan (B.M.), the University of Southern California (M.M.), and the Yale School of Music (M.M.A.), Shin is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley.

Carlos Simon

Described by the Los Angeles Times as a composer who “refashions musical history as excitable new realms with an unmistakable musical purpose essential for our times,” Carlos Simon is a multi-faceted and highly sought-after GRAMMY-nominated composer and curator. His music ranges from concert music for large and small ensembles to film scores with influences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism. Simon is the current Composer-in-Residence for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  

2022-2023 sees premiere performances with Minnesota Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera (in collaboration with Mo Willems) and Brooklyn Art Song Society, following recent other commissions from New York Philharmonic and Bravo! Vail, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Glimmerglass Festival, Sphinx Organization, Music Academy of the West, and San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. 

His work is also being performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Andris Nelsons), London Symphony Orchestra (Dr Andre Thomas), New York Philharmonic (Jaap van Zweden), National Symphony Orchestra (Gianandrea Noseda), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Peter Oundjian), Washington National Ballet choreographed by Donald Byrd, and American Ballet Theatre choreographed by Christopher Rudd; as well as by instrumentalists Alisa Weilerstein, J’Nai Bridges, Imani Winds and Hilary Hahn. 

Simon’s work spans genres, taking great inspiration from liturgical texts and writers such as Terrance Hayes, Colson Whitehead, Lynn Nottage, Emma Lazarus, Isabel Wilkerson, Ruby Aiyo Gerber, and Courtney Lett, as well as the art of Romare Bearden.

A “young composer on the rise, with an ear for social justice” (NPR), Simon’s latest album, Requiem for the Enslaved, is a multi-genre musical tribute to commemorate the stories of the 272 enslaved men, women, and children sold in 1838 by Georgetown University. Released by Decca in June 2022, this work infuses Simon’s original compositions with African American spirituals and familiar Catholic liturgical melodies, and was performed by Hub New Music Ensemble, Marco Pavé, and MK Zulu. Requiem was nominated for a 2023 GRAMMY Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

Andrea Reinkemeyer

The music of American composer Andrea Reinkemeyer “offers a luminous glimpse of the next world” (Fanfare Magazine) as it “explores a reverent sound world that hovers just above the brink of silence” (Second Inversion), using “spare, melancholy passages to traverse a complex emotional landscape” (Eugene Weekly) “from reverence and supplication to mournfulness and despair” (textura), and praised as, “clever, funky, jazzy and virtuosic” (Schenectady Daily Gazette), “enchanting” (International Choral Bulletin), “magical” and “hauntingly melodic and fun, dancing and almost running its way forward… whimsical” (Fanfare). Her current musical explorations focus on intersectional feminist narratives, natural phenomena, home, and grief.

Reinkemeyer’s music is distributed by Murphy Press and the ADJ•ective Composers’ Collective and featured on recordings by: Idit Shner, Society of Composers Inc., In Mulieribus, A/B Duo, and Post-Haste Reed Duo. Recent commissions include: Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and League of American Orchestras with support from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, Albany Symphony Orchestra (NY), Rhymes with Opera, H. Robert Reynolds and The Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, Mid America Freedom Band, Fear No Music, Lacroute Arts Series at Linfield University, Rodney Dorsey, Abigail Sperling with support of the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Music Teachers Association, The Wild Swan Theater, and many other performers and visual artists. Featured performances include the: Eugene Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, New Music Gathering, American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, North-South Consonance Chamber Orchestra, Great Noise Ensemble, Thailand International Composition Festival, and conferences of the International Alliance of Women in Music (IAWM), Iowa Music Teachers Association, Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) and SCI.

Reinkemeyer is the 2022-23 Edith Green Distinguished Professor and serves as Associate Professor of Music Composition and Theory at Linfield University where she coordinates the Composers Studio and Lacroute Composer Readings Program. She holds degrees in music composition from the University of Michigan (MM and DMA) and University of Oregon (BM). Born and raised in Oregon, Reinkemeyer has also lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Bangkok, Thailand. She returns to Cabrillo Festival after her residency last season.

Tan Dun

The world-renowned artist and UNESCO Global Goodwill Ambassador Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world’s music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions. A winner of today’s most prestigious honors including the GRAMMY Award, Academy Award, Grawmeyer Award, Bach Prize, Shostakovich Award, Italy’s Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the Istanbul Music Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Tan Dun’s music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on radio and television. In 2019, he was named as Dean of the Bard College Conservatory of Music. 

As an international conductor of innovative programs, Tan Dun has led the China tours of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra. His current season includes appearances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Tan Dun is an Artistic Ambassador of  Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and serves as the Honorary Artistic Director of the China National Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor at Shenzhen Symphony, and Honorary Artistic Director and Chief Guest Conductor of the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra.

Tan Dun’s individual voice has been heard widely by international audiences. His first Internet Symphony, commissioned by Google/YouTube, has reached over 23 million people online. His Organic Music Trilogy of Water, Paper and Ceramic has frequented major concert halls and festivals. Paper Concerto was premiered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the opening of the Walt Disney Hall. His multimedia work, The Map, premiered by YoYo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has toured more than 30 countries worldwie. He recently conducted the premiere of his new oratorio epic Buddha Passion at the Dresden Festival with the Münchner Philharmoniker.

Tan Dun records for Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Opus Arte, BIS and Naxos. His recordings have garnered many accolades, including a GRAMMY award (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and nomination (The First Emperor; Marco Polo; Pipa Concerto), Japan’s Recording Academy Awards for Best Contemporary Music CD (Water Passion after St. Matthew) and the BBC’s Best Orchestral Album (Death and Fire).

Program Notes

Relapse (2016)
Peter Shin (b. 1991)

In 2012, a series of lapses in psyche confronted me with the two halves of my Korean-American identity, both of which–at the time–felt alien to me. Today, I am educating myself on the collective origins of Asian America and strive for a deeper understanding of my Korean ancestry.

The initial melody of Relapse is derived from the minor pentatonic scales, the major counterpart of which makes up for the building blocks of the most famous Korean folk song, “Arirang,” inscribed–for it’s preservation– on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Although pleasant to the ears, this tune is anthem of abandonment and tremendous lament, highlighted by drawing out the original dance-like 3/4 meter over a more stately and solemn quasi-4/4 meter. Although the central idea of Relapse, the melody makes only one incomplete and wildly-interrupted iteration of following a series of rhythmic shifts within a rigid tempo, illustrating the grief behind the text, and the wave of doubts that for years would constantly disrupt my sense of belonging.

“My dear–who discarded me here–cannot walk ten li* before their feet burn.”
– translated verse from “Arirang,” Korean folk song, Anonymous

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      –Peter Shin

Tales–A Folklore Symphony (2021)
Carlos Simon (b. 1986)
[West Coast Premiere]


“Where are all the black people in comics?” This is a question posed by the creative duo Black Kirby (John Jennings and Stacey Robinson). Base heavily in Afrofuturism, Black Kirby’s characters show black people as heroes using ancient customs and futurist motifs from the African and African American diaspora. This piece is inspired by the man heroic characters found in the work of Black Kirby, but mainly Motherboxx Connection. (Black Kirby: In Search of the Motherboxx Connection)

According to scholar Regina N. Bradley, Motherboxx Connection is a “pun on Jack Kirby’s motherbox, a living computer connected to the world, the Motherboxx too is a living computer with a heightened awareness of racial and sexual discourses surrounding the black body. The motherboxx is the technological equivalent of the ‘mother land’ in the black diaspora imagination. She is where black identities merge and depart.”

To represent the power and intelligence of the motherboxx, I have composed a short, fast-moving musical idea that constantly weaves in and throughout the orchestra. A majestic, fanfare-like motif also provides the overall mood of strength and heroism. I imagine the motherboxx as an all-knowing entity that is aware of the multi-faceted aspects of blackness. 


Once all Africans could fly, but lost their ability once they crossed the Atlantic Ocean as enslaved humans. This story tells how one African maintained the ability and secretly passed the gift to others. The Negro Spiritual, “Steal Away” is referenced in the woodwinds, as well as the cello section, while the upper strings hover effortlessly in the higher register.

Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus
Steal away, steal away home
I ain’t got long to stay here

III. GO DOWN MOSES (Let my People Go)

The Jewish biblical story of the Plagues of Egypt resonated with the enslaved and they created songs that related to this story of bondage. While the horrific plagues that swept across Egypt are compelling in and of itself, the focus of this piece is recounted from the perspective of the stubborn Pharaoh, who unwillingly loosens his grip on the enslaved people. Pharaoh’s hardened heart is conveyed through two sharp, accented chords. The spirit of God, represented by light, heavenly, metallic sounds from the percussion, signal the beginning of each new plague. Frogs, pestilence, and sickness are not enough to break the Pharaoh’s will. It is only with the “Angel of Death”, who takes the life of Pharaoh’s first-born child, represented by dark, brooding harmonies, that he relents in despair. The orchestral texture grows thinner and thinner as Pharaoh loathes in emotional anguish. The once prideful Pharaoh is now broken down to a powerless whimper. I use the Negro Spiritual, “Let My People Go (Go Down Moses)” as a musical framework throughout this movement.

Go down Moses
Way down in Egypt land
Tell ol’ Pharaoh to
Let my people go!
When Israel was in Egypt land Let my people go!

Oppressed so hard they could not stand Let my people go!


The story of John Henry is traditionally told through the work song, each with wide-ranging and varying lyrics. The well-known narrative ballad of “John Henry” is essentially the battle between man versus machine. Enslaved/prisoners would usually sing the story more slowly and deliberately, often with a pulsating beat suggestive of swinging the hammer. These songs usually contain the lines “This old hammer killed John Henry/ but it won’t kill me.” Writer Scott Nelson explains that: “… workers managed their labor by setting a ‘stint’, or pace, for it. Men who violated the stint were shunned….Here was a song that told you what happened to men who worked too fast: they died ugly deaths; their entrails fell on the ground. You sang the song slowly, you worked slowly, you guarded your life, or you died.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  –Carlos Simon


Water Sings Fire (2018)
Andrea Reinkemeyer (b. 1976)

Water Sings Fire for Orchestra was commissioned by the League of American Orchestras and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra with the generous support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Carlos Miguel Prieto conducted the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for the premiere performances at the Orpheum Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana in January 2019.

The piece draws inspiration from Leigh Bardugo’s short story, When Water Sang Fire–a feminist origin myth to the Hans Christian Andersen classic, The Little Mermaid–in which themes of ambition and betrayal are explored allegorically through Ulla’s transformation from obscure mermaid to tempestuous sea witch.

With nimble precision, Ulla manipulates the mer-music’s magical propertiesa show of power irresistible to an ambitious prince whose lack of natural talent drives his relentless pursuit of the throne. In the end, Ulla’s ability to transform wishes into reality rewards the treachery of the young prince, and it costs her everything.

The loss of her voice, friend, and form illustrates the degradation of her true source of personal power. Desperate to survive, Ulla uses a magical mirror to amplify her weakened voice with the support of “all these broken, betrayed girls” reflected in the mirror. Together, they build a song of storm magic to pull apart the prince’s ill-begotten prize.

Bardugo writes that following Ulla’s descent, she clutches her memories, and “…held each sorrow like a chafing grain of sand, and grew her grudges like pearls.”

While this piece does not strictly adhere to the narrative arc of the story, its episodic form strings together grievances, while Ulla, who frets in the deep, waits for the “lonely, the ambitious, the clever, the frail, for all those willing to strike a bargain. She never waits long.”

Like the story, the sparse textures of the opening moments conjure the barren lands stripped of life by Ulla’s storm, and slowly builds with the sorrow of each painful memory re-lived. The themes resonate with societal changes that challenge our nation ­– as we strive to give voice to the wronged and the disenfranchised. The work is dedicated, with hope and with gratitude, to “women who sing truth though the world rains fire upon them.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    –Andrea Reinkemeyer


The Tears of Nature (2012)
Tan Dun (b. 1957)

I wrote this piece for my dear friend, a true percussion artist, Martin Grubinger. Upon conclusion of this work I made a video demonstration for Martin, sharing the methods I used to draw out the many colors of percussion, using the video to show the unique techniques such as finger flicking, rubbing, scraping etc. While composing I thought about nature and focused on the passion of Martin Grubinger.

Nature is the only suitable illustrator for the richness of percussion sounds and instruments. Nature does not just represent four seasons in a year, it also can depict the many animals it holds such as lions or tigers, animals that can take on many forms, that can be beautiful, threatening, friendly or loving. My Percussion Concerto is divided into three movements, each one representing a different color of nature; the color of nature’s thunder, the color of nature’s passion and the color of nature’s energy – each united with the human spirit.

The first movement, Threat of Nature, was prompted by my unforgettable memories and the unbearable, instantaneous loss of thousands, during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008.Threat of Nature is depicted using the timpani, which shows both the gentle and explosive power of nature. The transformation from the beginning of the movement to end employs various techniques on the timpani, from large mallets to finger flicking, symbolizes the taming of nature. This movement honors all spirits touched by the brutal force of nature in 2008.

The second movement, Tears of Nature, was born as I watched the enormously heart-wrenching live broadcast of the tsunami in Japan on television. For every inhale of the tsunami waves – how many lives vanished? For every exhale how many spirits were washed away? I believe after nature’s brutality must come nature’s regret, it’s tears. The tragedy of the tsunami is represented by a sorrowful marimba solo crying for all of the victims of the tsunami. Tremolos and cascading lines mirror the images of water in nature, nature’s tears: rain, rivers, and oceans.

The third movement, Dance of Nature, comes from my awe and affection for New York City and its residents. I love New York because it does not believe in wallowing in tears. After Hurricane Sandy all of lower Manhattan and many others were without power, but New Yorkers never lost their energy and confidence. Dance of Nature uses assorted percussion instruments, all placed in a circle. Shadowing the first two movements, I bring their motives back and mix them with the new melodies introduced. The motives dance together causing the percussionist, in turn to whirl around within the circle of percussion instruments symbolizing both nature and the human spirit dancing together – reminding me of New York and its ability to keep cheerful in spirits and dance even while suffering from loss – the spirit of New York is always strong.

Although the three movements in this concerto about three natural disasters in different cities, they all share in the same memory, one where the human spirit stays strong. This concerto commemorates human spirit as it lives, fights and dances with nature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            –Tan Dun

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