Unus Mundus (2017)
for Solo Piano
Duration: 6 minutes
Commission: Eunmi Ko in Memory of Isang Yun
Premiere: Eunmi Ko, piano, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. May 11, 2017
Program Notes: Unus Mundus was commissioned by pianist Eunmi Ko for the centennial celebration of Isang Yun’s birth. I have long been fascinated by Yun’s compositional technique of “Hauptton” (main tone) which one can hear in his piano solo piece Interludium A, with pitch-class “A” being a centering main tone. Every time I listened to Interludium A, I was struck by a section about five minutes into the composition where he indicates a meter for the first time. This section starts with a disarming B-Major triad, which gets reiterated the line below and suffused with quartal harmonies. I decided that this moment would become the soundworld that I would inhabit for my composition. I also felt that taking a moment in time as my inspiration aligns with Taoist philosophy, a strong influence on Yun’s music, in which the part is the whole and the whole is the part, and in which the dark and the light are intertwined with each other. I believe that music in its deepest expression has the power to fuse opposites to create oneness that cannot be fragmented, because as Carl Jung says “everything divided and different belongs to one and the same world.” This concept, which Jung called “Unus Mundus” from Latin “One World,” seemed like a fitting title for a composition honoring Isang Yun.