Magical Adventures of the Monkey King
"Magical Adventures of the Monkey King" is a musical journey through fantastic landscapes filled with demons, gods and mystical challenges. An exciting new musical experience featuring ULTRA WORLD X-TET.
“Magical Adventures of the Monkey King” is inspired by Journey to the West 西遊記 , one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. The star of the story is the mischievous Monkey King who gains awesome magical powers and uses them to save a group of colorful pilgrims from disaster time and time again as they proceed on their journey through fantastic landscapes populated with demons, gods and monsters. Along the way, aspects of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism are explored and many spiritual insights are gained. The story (written in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng'en), is a fictionalized account of the legendary pilgrimage to India of the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang 玄奘 who traveled along the silk road circa 627AD.
Journey to the West can be divided into 4 main sections, which correspond to the 4 movements of the composition. The composition was composed by Gary Schwantes and could be considered a “tone poem” evoking the essence of the saga through the unique voice of Ultra World X-tet. Magical Adventures of the Monkey King makes extensive use of chromatic and modal harmony, experimental techniques, soaring melodies and driving rhythms. The piece is also deeply influenced by traditional Chinese musical forms, such as Peking Opera, and ancient Taoist and Buddhist music. Musical motives are developed related to the characters, the journey and the important episodes and milestones in the story. The movements and motives are developed throughout the piece reflecting the relationships, incidents and philosophical insights gained. The piece unfolds in the same linear manner as the plotline of the story. Before the piece and between movements a brief bilingual synopsis of the story is provided by the narrator.
This project made possible in part by support from the Zellerbach Family Foundation. ULTRA WORLD X-TET is a fiscally-sponsored affiliate of San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music.
ULTRA WORLD X-TET:
Magical Adventures of the Monkey King (Part 1 of 4)
Yangqin Zhao, Yangqin; Gary Schwantes, Saxophones/Bamboo Flutes/Composer; Winnie Wong, Guzheng; Doug Ebert, Bass; Surya Prakasha Drums/Percussion/Harmonium; Rena Wang, Narrator.