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Violin and Piano

Score sample

Click on the score page above to access a more in-depth score preview (where available). 


Romances is a set of three movements for violin and piano, commissioned by my dear friends Helena Aung and Xun “Richard” Xu. From the first moments of composing this piece, I wanted it to be biographical: a story of how Xun and Helena met each other, began playing music together, and fell in love. I learned as much as I could about the two of them, including their upbringings, the music they grew up listening to, and how their respective journeys brought them together.

During one conversation it emerged that Helena (who is Thai) and Xun (who is Chinese) don’t speak each other’s native language, instead communicating at home in English. Learning that gave me occasion to think about how language and love are intertwined, and the more I thought about Xun and Helena’s situation, the more I found it inspiring: a love that transcends a deeply intimate barrier, the native tongue. So, Romances is a biographical love story after all — but it’s also a piece about language, conversation, and finding ways to communicate even when words fail.

Whispers introduces a repeating texture which invites dialogue and imitation. Throughout the movement, the piano and violin share material and try to join each other harmonically, but the movement concludes without ever finding a single key area which they can share. Let Nothing Be Unsaid is a pas de deux, a continued search by both musicians for common ground in the harmonies and melodies of the movement. The final movement, Raconter (French, “to tell,” as in a story), is an improvisation built of elements from the other two movements. The piano and violin engage in rapid, passionate dialogue, the conversation builds and takes spontaneous new directions, until finally discovering D Major, the shared harmonic world the two musicians were searching for all along.

Romances is dedicated with love to Helena and Xun.

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