Video Premiere: Vivian Fung’s (Un)Wandering Souls Performed by Sandbox Percussion

A timbrally-rich fusion of struck metal, wood, porcelain, and glass defines Vivian Fung’s (Un)Wandering Souls, a three-minute piece for percussion quartet written as a response to composer Him Sophy and film director Rithy Panh’s 2017 multimedia work, Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia.

Commissioned by Cambodian Living Arts and Metropolis Ensemble, (Un)Wandering Souls is one of a series of “variations” on Him Sophy and Rithy Panh’s Requiem, which offers a path to healing for survivors of genocide through a blend of Cambodian and Western music traditions. In Vivian Fung’s virtuosic treatment of the melody from the last scene, Sandbox Percussion’s tight grooves underscore, accompany, and punctuate the video edited by Rithy Panh.

Sandbox Percussion--Photo by Kjell van Sice

Sandbox Percussion–Photo by Kjell van Sice

Here’s what Vivian had to say about (Un)Wandering Souls:

My extended family (maternal grandmother, uncles, aunts, and cousins) lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in the 1970s as part of the overseas Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia. They were there quite happily, in fact, until the Khmer Rouge stormed the capital in April 1975 and drove everyone out. Those events changed the course of my family forever. I was born in Canada in 1975, but my birth and childhood were most definitely affected by these events. My extended family miraculously survived an arduous journey–over a month on foot in the countryside of Cambodia, traveling only in the dead of night, and then in Vietnam. Ultimately, they ended up in Paris and Canada.

I have been increasingly trying to piece together my family history, and I went to visit Cambodia for the first time in 2019 with my family. With some sleuthing, we were able to find my extended family’s former home and the hospital that my aunt ran, still standing all these years later but now abandoned. I look forward to returning and to continuing to understand more about their past.

Vivian Fung--Photo by Charles Boudreau

Vivian Fung–Photo by Charles Boudreau

Upcoming events with Vivian Fung and Sandbox Percussion

Vivian Fung’s new Flute Concerto Storm Within will be premiered by the Vancouver Symphony and VSO principal flutist Christie Reside via livestream the first week of June 2021.

Vivian Fung will submit an operatic short for Edmonton Opera’s Wild Rose Opera Project with librettist Royce Vavrek. Fung’s short will be an exploration of a family’s history dealing with the PTSD inherited from a history of genocide.

Sandbox Percussion will release a new album and video of the world premiere of Andy Akiho’s Seven Pillars: an evening-length work for percussion quartet. The album, out June 2021, will mark the first release on Akiho and Sandbox’s new label, Aki Rhythm Productions.

About Vivian Fung

JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung has a unique talent for combining idiosyncratic textures and styles into large-scale works, reflecting her multicultural background. NPR calls her “one of today’s most eclectic composers.” Recent performance highlights include the CBC Virtual Orchestra’s online world premiere of Prayer, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in July 2020; the UK premiere of Birdsong, performed by violinist Midori; the premiere of a trumpet concerto by Mary Elizabeth Bowden and the Erie Philharmonic; The Ice Is Talking, commissioned by the Banff Centre, using ice blocks to illustrate the fragility of our environment; A Child Dreams of Toys, commissioned by the Winnipeg New Music Festival; and String Quartet No. 4 “Insects and Machines,” commissioned by the Red Bank Chamber Music Society and premiered by the American String Quartet.

With a deep interest in exploring different cultures, Fung has traveled to Cambodia, Southwest China, North Vietnam, Spain, and Bali to connect with her roots and collect research for her compositions. Passionate about fostering the talent of the next generation, Fung has mentored young composers in programs at the American Composers Forum, San Francisco Contemporary Chamber Players, San Jose Youth Chamber Orchestra, and Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Born in Edmonton, Canada, Fung received her doctorate from The Juilliard School. She currently lives in California and is on the faculty of Santa Clara University.

About Sandbox Percussion

Described as “exhilarating” by The New York Times, and “virtuosic and utterly mesmerizing” by The Guardian, Sandbox Percussion has established themselves as a leading proponent of this generation of contemporary percussion chamber music. Brought together by their love of chamber music and the simple joy of playing together, Sandbox Percussion captivates audiences with performances that are both visually and aurally stunning. Through compelling collaborations with composers and performers, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum, and Terry Sweeney seek to engage a wider audience for classical music.

In the 2020-21 season, Sandbox Percussion will launch a group of new virtual initiatives: a concert series live-streamed from their studio in Brooklyn, #sandboxsunday – a live-streamed series of conversations with composers, performers and other close collaborators, and monthly live-readings of new works submitted by composers from around the world. In 2021, Sandbox will release their second album Seven Pillars, an evening-length commissioned work by Andy Akiho, with staging and lighting design by Michael McQuilken.

Sandbox Percussion endorses Pearl/Adams musical instruments, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks and mallets, Remo drumheads, and Black Swamp accessories.

About Metropolis Ensemble

Metropolis Ensemble is a dynamically evolving 21st Century Orchestra. Dedicated to creating a future for classical music that is of and for the time we live in, Metropolis Ensemble’s driving force is its founder, GRAMMY-nominated conductor Andrew Cyr, “a prominent influence in the world of newly emerging music” (The Washington Post). Described by The New York Times as a “vibrant collective,” Metropolis Ensemble exists to support ascending contemporary classical performers and composers, often engaging them with other bleeding-edge cultural innovators and artists through its unique collaborative process.

Metropolis Ensemble has won international recognition for its seven studio recordings, including winning Canada’s prestigious JUNO Award for Best Classical Composition in 2013, for work they commissioned and recorded from composer Vivian Fung. In 2010, Metropolis Ensemble received its first Classical GRAMMY Award Nomination and in 2014, producer David Frost received a Classical Producer of the Year GRAMMY Award for work that included Metropolis Ensemble’s album of Brooklyn-based composer Timo Andres. This season, Metropolis Ensemble made its debut at The Kennedy Center in a co-commission and original film score for Thomas Edison’s vintage silent film, A Christmas Carol, and launched 3 studio albums and EP’s on New Amsterdam Records in collaboration with Matthew Evan Taylor, Jenn Wasner, Holland Andrews, and William Brittelle. In addition, Metropolis Ensemble has commissioned dozens of composers ranging from Wadada Leo Smith to Du Yun as part of their digital Creators program – new platforms dedicated to commissioning and producing new music during COVID-19.


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