Byron Au Yong: As big as all outdoors

ByronDrumsTalk about bringing music to the people! Composer/performer Byron Au Yong is putting opera in bottles (no deposit required).

At least that’s the impression given by the subtitle to a 2008 piece.

But the work’s name – “Kidnapping Water: Bottle Operas” – is actually deceptive. Rather than mass-produced take-home music, the piece is more about making audiences go the distance.

Like a musical Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the 39-year old Seattle-based composer created a series of 64 musical miniatures, each for a singer and a percussionist.  They’re mean to each be performed in a different body or pool of water.  It’s never actually been done in one continuous trek, but was debuted in eight installments, taking place in lakes, ponds and streams of the Pacific Northwest during the 2008 Bumbershoot Festival of the Arts. A concert version of excerpts is coming up on May 1 at Seattle’s Town Hall.

Raised on musical theatre and action flicks, I became interested in drama and martial arts. Classical music, avant-garde techniques and sacred ceremonies also inform my mix of lyrical melodies with surprising twists. Living in the Pacific Northwest, where the mountains, trees and water remain powerful, further inspires my approach to writing.

With his current theatrical work in process, Au Yong goes from the expansive outdoors to everyone’s worst nightmare of confinement. “Stuck Elevator” is based on the true story of a Chinese food delivery man in New York City who got trapped in an elevator – for three days!  The piece has been accepted for the Yale Institute for Music Theatre in June, which will culminate in two public performances, June 25-26.

ByronDragAs the son of Chinese immigrants in America, I search for ways music connects people with the places they call home. I listen to stories and sounds to find meaning in a world filled with beauty and terror…

Interested in the interplay between nature, architecture, sound, noise, chaos, and repetition, I find musical gestures in everyday actions. These gestures form the basis of ceremonial works created to honor the ritual of people who gather to listen.

One Response to “Byron Au Yong: As big as all outdoors”

  1. bc vermeersch says:

    I’m assuming its June 25 and 26th in New Haven. Any chance of a NYC show with your portable music?

    Good luck! I enjoyed your story and music.

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