Heaven to Earth Border House

Bruce Crossman composer

Release Date: September 24, 2021
Catalog #: NV6364
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Chamber
East Asian
Percussion
Voice

Australian Bruce Crossman blends East and West in his new release HEAVEN TO EARTH BORDER HOUSE on Navona Records. With his modernist approach to musical construction and style, he effortlessly integrates traditional Western, Korean, and Chinese instruments and philosophies into a coherent, enlightening whole.

HEAVEN TO EARTH BORDER HOUSE uniquely features two kinds of zithers: the Korean gayageum as well as the Chinese guzheng, and the largest Korean bamboo flute, the taegum. These instruments are alternatingly grounded by Western percussion, the piano and a haunting soprano. The subject matter of the musical pieces is ethereal: Allegoric titles such as Garden of Fire, Fragrant Rain Clouds of Love, and Strange Invisible Perfume reveal the fragile poetry expressed in the music – oscillating between the sensual and the spiritual.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Shy Like Blushing Flowers: Fragrant Rain Clouds Of Love Bruce Crossman Timothy Phillips, percussion; Michael Kieran Harvey, piano 12:37
02 Shy Like Blushing Flowers: Interlude 1 Bruce Crossman Anna Fraser, mezzo-soprano; Linda Yim, piano 1:11
03 Shy Like Blushing Flowers: Garden Of Fire Bruce Crossman Anna Fraser, soprano; Claire Edwardes, percussion; Linda Yim, piano 15:24
04 Shy Like Blushing Flowers: Interlude 2 Bruce Crossman Anna Fraser, mezzo-soprano; Linda Yim, piano 1:11
05 Shy Like Blushing Flowers: Strange Invisible Perfume Bruce Crossman Chiu Tan Ching, guzheng; Claire Edwardes, percussion 11:48
06 Heaven To Earth Border House Bruce Crossman Hyelim Kim, taegŭm; Yi Ji-young, gayageum 18:05

FRAGRANT RAIN CLOUDS OF LOVE
Text by Tang Xianzu (from Young Lovers’ Edition Peony Pavilion); translated by Lindy Li Mark
Recorded September 2, 2016 at Playhouse, Western Sydney University in Sydney, Australia
Session Producers Ian Stevenson and Bruce Crossman
Session Engineers Ian Stevenson, Mitchell Hart, and Noel Burgess
Sponsor School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University
℗ 2016 Western Sydney University for Creativity Unlimited 2016

INTERLUDE 1
Composed/remixed by Ian Stevenson
Recorded October 8, 2017 at Building F (studio), Western Sydney University in Sydney, Australia
Session Producer & Engineer Ian Stevenson
Sponsors Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Western Sydney University, and NSW Government, CREATE NSW

GARDEN OF FIRE
Text by Tang Xianzu (from Young Lovers’ Edition Peony Pavilion); translated by Lindy Li Mark
Recorded October 10, 2017 at Building F (studio), Western Sydney University in Sydney, Australia
Session Producers Ian Stevenson and Bruce Crossman
Session Engineer Ian Stevenson
Sponsors Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Western Sydney University, and NSW Government, CREATE NSW
Special thanks William Lane – artistic director, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble (for Linda Yim)

INTERLUDE 2
Composed/remixed by Ian Stevenson
Recorded October 8 2017 at Building F (studio), Western Sydney University in Sydney, Australia
Session Producer & Engineer Ian Stevenson
Sponsors Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Western Sydney University, and NSW Government, CREATE NSW

STRANGE INVISIBLE PERFUME
Text from Holy Bible (Mandarin); Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (Mandarin); Jocelyn Chey, romanizations; Text by Tang Xianzu (from Young Lovers’ Edition Peony Pavilion); Translated by Lindy Li Mark
Recorded July 20, 2017 at Playhouse, Western Sydney University in Sydney, Australia
Session Producer Ian Stevenson and Bruce Crossman
Session Engineers Ian Stevenson, Mitchell Hart, and Noel Burgess
Sponsors Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture and the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University
Special thanks William Lane, artistic director, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble (for Chiu Tan Ching)
℗ 2017 at Western Sydney University for Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture

HEAVEN TO EARTH BORDER HOUSE
Text by Kate Fagan (from “Border House (Notes to a Bird)”)
Recorded (gayageum) November 8, 2020 at Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea
Recorded (taegŭm) November 21, 2020 at Stella Polaris Studios in London, United Kingdom
Mixed at Stella Polaris Studios in London, United Kingdom, and Building F (studio), Western Sydney University in Sydney, Australia
Session Producer Øyvind Aamli and Hyelim Kim (London)
Session/Mastering Engineer Øyvind Aamli (London)
Mastering Engineer Mitchell Hart (Sydney)
Sponsor School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University

General Manager of Audio & Sessions Jan Košulič
Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Mastering Shaun Michaud

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Ivana Hauser

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Bruce Crossman

Composer

Bruce Crossman’s sound world embraces Asian traditional musics, free form improvisation and European influenced interval-colour sonority towards a personal Pacific identity. He has been mentored by Chinary Ung and studied composition with Ross Edwards, David Blake and Jack Speirs.

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Yi Jiyoung

Yi Ji-Young

Gayageum

Yi Ji-young (gayageum) is considered one of the most important Korean gayageum players of our time with a legacy stretching from traditional sanjo to contemporary avant-garde repertoire.

Her level of excellence is attested to by performances across the world at the highest levels, including the National Gugak Centre (Korea), Edinburgh Festival, France’s MIDEM (key industry event), and important orchestras such as Shanghai Orchestra, Kyoto Orchestra, Jerusalem Philharmonic Orchestra, KNM Ensemble Berlin, and leader of the CMEK (Contemporary Music Ensemble Korea). She is currently a professor of Gayageum Performance at Seoul National University, Korea.

photo: Kim Jin-hwan

Hyelim Kim

Hyelim Kim

Taegŭm

Hyelim Kim (taegŭm) is a world-renowned traditional Korean taegŭm performer and intercultural improviser, who is a Visiting Research Fellow, Bath Spa University (UK).

She has worked with Australia’s leading intercultural improvisers including Simon Barker (drums) and Peter Knight (trumpet) and collaborates with leading musicians all over the world, recently performing on BBC Radio 3 with Nils Frahm and Ghostpoet as part of Late Junction Sessions. She has also graced the stage at the London Jazz Festival and Omi World Music Concert (New York) using her instrument to promote exchange with a wide variety of musical cultures.

photo: Jinhwan Lee

Michael Kieran Harvey

Piano

Michael Kieran Harvey (piano) is an internationally renowned pianist, composer, and improviser. Harvey was born in Sydney and studied piano with Alan Jenkins, Gordon Watson, and at the Liszt Academy, Budapest, under Sándor Falvai.

His career has been notable for its diversity and wide repertoire. Harvey’s compositions have been performed in Europe, the United Kingdom, North and South America, and Asia. As a pianist, Harvey’s awards include the Grand Prix in the Ivo Pogorelich Piano Competition, United States (1993 – the world’s richest at the time), the Debussy Medal in the Guilde Francaise Concours Paris (1986), the Australian Government’s Centenary Medal (2002), and the 2009 APRA award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music. Harvey is based in Tasmania, where he supports many environmental causes.

Timothy Phillips

Percussion

Timothy Phillips (percussion) is an internationally renowned percussionist, conductor, and composer. Phillips holds degrees from the Canberra School of Music and the State University of Music in Karlsruhe, Germany studying with Daryl Pratt and Professor Isao Nakamura respectively.

As a performer, Phillips appears with orchestras, chamber ensembles and in solo shows and he has also created original music for DVA (mixed ability) Theatre, Ignition (NMIT) Theatre and Westside Circus. As a conductor, Phillips is the founder of the Arcko Symphonic Project and has appeared at MIAF and on recordings for Move records.

Anna Fraser

Anna Fraser

Soprano

Anna Fraser (soprano) has gained an enviable reputation as a versatile soprano specialising predominantly in the interpretation of early and contemporary repertoire. She has been a long-serving permanent member of Australia’s leading vocal ensemble, The Song Company.

She has also performed extensively with a number of Sydney’s professional ensembles: most recently with Sydney Chamber Opera in their Sydney Festival productions of Dusapin’s Passion (2016) and Finsterer’s Biographica (2017), Pinchgut Opera with notable roles in L’Orfeo, Dardanus, L’Ormindo, and Castor et Pollux, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Synergy Percussion, Ensemble Offspring, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Cantillation, Ironwood, Halcyon, and The Acacia Quartet.

photo: Simon Killalea

Claire Edwardes

Claire Edwardes

Percussion

Claire Edwardes (percussion) is an internationally renowned Australian percussionist and artistic director of the Sydney new music group, Ensemble Offspring.

Her career highlights include solo performances at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in the United Kingdom and being a prizewinner as part of Duo Vertigo at the 2005 International Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition. She won the 2016 Art Music Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual and was the 1999 Young Performer of the Year.

photo: Petar Jovanov

Linda Yim

Piano

Linda Yim (piano) is a core member of the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, one of the leading government funded arts institutions in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong New Music Ensemble (HKNME) was founded in 2008 to present contemporary music to Hong Kong audiences. It has been widely praised for its innovative programming and interdisciplinary collaborations with artists from different media. The HKNME has collaborated with organisations including Zuni Icosahedron and Guangdong Modern Dance Company.

Chiu Tan Ching

Chiu Tan Ching

Guzheng

Chiu Tan Ching (guzheng) is a leading Hong Kong contemporary guzheng virtuoso whose work with the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble includes the prestigious New Vision Arts Festival.

She is a core member of the HKNME who are hailed as “one of Hong Kong’s most progressive groups of musicians” (CNN). Widely praised for its innovative programming, the Ensemble’s productions include concerts, educational outreach events, and interdisciplinary collaborations and research projects with artists from different artistic fields.

photo: Petar Jovanov

Ian Stevenson

Producer

Ian Stevenson is a specialist in the field of audible design with over 20 years of experience as an audio engineer, producer, sound artist, and educator. He is currently senior lecturer in music and sound design at the University of Technology Sydney.

Ian has worked in the theatre on West-end and touring productions in Europe and Australia, in broadcast on commercial and public radio and television, live sound and record production for contemporary classical and popular concert music, post-production, and in high-tech audio product management. His current research is in the areas of sound design, sound studies, soundscape analysis, and music and sound pedagogy.

Kate Fagan

Poet

Kate Fagan is the Director, Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University. She is an internationally recognised poet and songwriter whose third collection of poetry First Light (Giramondo, 2012) was short-listed for both the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and The Age Book of the Year Award.

Her album Diamond Wheel won the National Film and Sound Archive Award for Folk Recording. Current research projects include an extended study of Aboriginal poet Ali Cobby Eckermann and a book-length manuscript of poems called Song in the Grass.

Notes

Fragrant Rain Clouds of Love is inspired by the lucid English translation by Lindy Li Mark of the Chinese opera Kunqu classic, Peony Pavilion; its subtle evocation of the fragility and awakening of love found fragile and sonorous musical responses. The work awakens with fragile timbres of lingering metal responses and stopped-piano sounds gently awaken to lush Kunqu-based sonorities, before erupting to climactic jazzy extemporization-like piano sounds interwoven with Filipino Kulintang gong-chimes and soft skin-sounds of drumming patterns. After the euphoria of the climactic moments, stillness returns in transient and distilled chordal sounds as a type of breath in the structure—as if suggesting lovers’ tender moments—before erupting again to the main climax, but this time with free mobile sections that allow the players room to awaken in quasi-improvisations. Symbolic Peking opera gong sounds recalling the Chinese opera origins of the inspiration undergird the final cacophonous climax. The work closes with a return to transient metal timbres of crotales and bowed vibraphone emergences, all amidst whisperings of the Young Lovers’ Edition Peony Pavilion text—“fragrant rain clouds of love.”

— Bruce Crossman

Garden of Fire takes its point of departure from the sensuality of Tang Xianzu’s Peony Pavilion poetry through lucid translations from Lindy Li Mark and Mandarin as well as the structured sense of revelatory space from the Chinese Gardens in Sydney. The music explores the poetry’s static sense of understated erotic tensions that suddenly strike the senses through nature allusions with inside-the-note vocalizations and operatic vibrato through the mezzo-soprano line, and accentuates the colours through drawing on both traditional Chinese and extended European instrumental techniques in the percussion and piano. The living color aesthetic from Chinese Confucian thought that underpins the vocal line is extended through the Chinese opera percussion’s sensitivity to sliding gong timbres and resonances as well as prepared string vibrations on piano. The structure of the work is composed of flanking distilled sections of colour transformations at the beginning and end of the piece around static colours which gain propelling motion to form a multi-sonority climax, with elements of Peking Opera modal pitches, percussive freedom, free-jazz intrusions, and pulsations. The timelessness of a free section presents the ‘shyness’ after the climax and dissolves back into an emergent color labyrinth where distilled color wrestles with jazzy ruptures.

— Bruce Crossman

Strange Invisible Perfume explores the drifting sense of time and moment as expressions of spirit through subtle timbre graduations of the guzheng with muscular color resonances of sonority and driving percussion qualities suggesting the sensualities of texts from Shakespeare, Tang Xianzu, and Song of Songs. The form the work takes is of opening and closing sections with subtle changes of tone color from wriggling string possibilities on guzheng, sharp Chinese opera percussion, and lingering crotales sounds as types of perfumes of sound, the stirring “invisible perfume” of the sensuality of Cleopatra. Inside these frames are balanced muscular sections with the guzheng’s full string arpeggios and skin and metal percussion barrages to express the sensual and joyful suggestions of the Biblical “I rose up to open to my beloved” and “fingers with sweet smelling myrrh.” The “strange perfume”—a central image from the Shakespeare—is explored as a central section of the musical structure and expressed through trembling strings and half-spoken whispered voice amidst guzheng chordal resonance; these are intended as evocations of an invisible sensuality and spirit which “hits the sense” in a Shakespearean bold-moment and Daoist quivering nature of “sun rouged blush, damp with rain.”

— Bruce Crossman

Heaven to Earth Border House for taegŭm and sanjo gayageum explores ideas from recent bespoke Korean architecture, where the traditional house (hanok) is transformed in recent small dwelling architecture by the concept of adaptation through non-family members’ usage of the spaces by creating ‘additive’ changes to repurpose the space as a wider social space. The music reinterprets this idea as an intercultural, multidisciplinary arts space for interaction between cultures. The music is arranged in rough-hewn sections to reveal material sonic roughness but within an overall triangular structural frame, paralleling other East Asian architectural approaches, such as the way Chinese architect Jiang Ying sets cube-like rooms in zig-zag arrangement in Z Gallery across the rough concrete of the cavernous space of the renovated Honghua Dyeing Factory (Williams 2019, pp.90-93). The form falls into seven sections: A—Distilled Breath; B—Colour climax; C—Colour Breath; D—Symmetrical Stasis; C’—Colour Breath; B’—Crazy Colour Climax; A’—Distilled Breath. The music is arranged as a series of balances: distilled breath, colour breath, colour climax, and a balanced stasis section. The seven sections orientate around a gradual revealing of a golden section form that cuts loose in the sixth section’s aleatory and sonorous richness.

– Bruce Crossman

Texts

Tang Xianzu text (from Young Lovers’ Edition Peony Pavilion); Lindy Li Mark translator

PEONY PAVILION
Dark silk gown (Zao Luopao)

Fragrant rain clouds of love
Scarcely touched my dream

Rouse me as I slumber
Cold sweat breaks in surprise

Drowsy with spring fever,
      weary from roaming,
I sleep without sensing
      my bedding.

Shining sky over glorious scene,
Myriad purple and red bloom.
Like jewels set in latticed railings.
Colored clouds surrounding all.
To oversee the guarding of flowers,
Less they are scattered, by morning breezes.[Scene 3: The Interrupted Dream pp.17-18, 15] [Tune title is from Lindy Li Mark, “From Page to Stage: Exploring some Mysteries of Kunqu Music and its Melodic Characteristics,” CHINOPERL: Journal of Chinese Oral and Performing Literature 32.1 (July 2013): pp.21, 27. Reproduced with kind permission of Lindy Li Mark.]

Tang Xianzu text (from Young Lovers’ Edition Peony Pavilion); Lindy Li Mark translator

PEONY PAVILION
Where does love arise?
It wells up from the deep.
For love the living can die.
For love the dead can revive…
[Prologue, p.7]

This brief moment…
[Scene 3: The Interrupted Dream, p.16]

I love to be beautiful:
Like the early spring that no one sees,
Like graceful fish diving deep,
Landing swan, birds in flight.
Shy like blushing flowers,
Hidden moon, and trembling blossoms.
[Scene 3: The Interrupted Dream, p.12]

This brief moment…
[Scene 3: The Interrupted Dream, p.16]

Spring Fragrance, if we didn’t come here,
How shall we know that springtime is like this.
So it is.

Already, bright purple and
passion pink bloom in profusion…
But in this glorious season,
Where are sounds of joy in this garden?
[Scene 3: The Interrupted Dream, pp. 12-13]

text from Holy Bible (Mandarin); Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (Mandarin)
Jocelyn Chey romanizations
Tang Xianzu text (from Young Lovers’ Edition Peony Pavilion); Lindy Li Mark translator

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me: now no more
The juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip:

Ba wode yifu gei wo. Ti wo ba wangguan daishang. Wo xinli huaizhe yongsheng de kewang. Aiji putao de fangniang congci yihou zai ye buhui zhanrun wode zuichun.[Act V, scene 2, lines 3738-3740]

A strange invisible perfume hits the sense

Sanchu yigu qimiao pengbi de fangxiang.
[Act II, scene 2, line 937]

SONG OF SOLOMON
I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

I opened to my beloved;

Wo qilai, yao gei wo liangren kaimen, Wode liang shou dixia moyao, wode zhitou you moyao ye di zai mensuo shang. Wo gei wode liangren kaile men.
[Chapter 5, verses 5-6]

PEONY PAVILION
Such sun rouged blush, damp with rain.
[Scene 3, The Interrupted Dream, p.16]

© Text Compilation: Bruce Crossman

English title translations by Lindy Li Mark from the Young Lovers’ Edition Peony Pavilion, ‘Book 1, part 1: scene 3, The Interrupted Dream, p.16; original play by Tang Xianzu, Pai Hsien-Yung, producer. Copyright © Lindy Li Mark, May/June 2004. Reproduced with kind permission of Lindy Li Mark.

Romanizations of the Chinese script by Jocelyn Chey of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Act V, scene 2, lines 275-280 and Act II, scene 2, lines 220-225 (Enobarbus). Reproduced with kind permission of Jocelyn Chey. The English translation is from Open Source Shakespeare, George Mason University, using the 1864 Globe Edition, by William George Clark and William Aldis Wright. Romanisations of the Chinese script by Jocelyn Chey of Song of Solomon, chapter 5, verses 5-6. Reproduced with kind permission of Jocelyn Chey. The English translation is from the King James Version (KJV).

text by Kate Fagan

Border House (Notes to a Bird)

A house sits on a border between sky and earth

A house is large enough to encompass ideas of blue and small enough to cradle
our finite selves

A house is a verge repurposed by generations

A house changes over days the way words transform with use

A house is to moths what an ocean is to cormorants, a place of passage among
states of air

A house is an assemblage of stone glass skin wood metal cloud and soil

A house gives pause to bodies as they gather gravity

A house collects birds as birds collect time

A house brings weather into stories we touch, a candle burning to the rim of a bowl,
almost ending

A house is an open architecture of memory

A house flows in time the way one room flows into another

A house is an act of minding

A house darkens on a treeless plain and catches the dust carried by thunder, carried
into ears and mouths

A house becomes an ancestor

A house faces doubt and shelters a sleeping girl

A house is a triangle drawn from eyes and stars to outside fires

A house returns to a woman mending a roof, to a man hanging doors, to a boy
fetching herbs

A house is a book of separate figures

A house inscribes a path into a copper mountain

A house is an ecology of sensing

Text copyright © Kate Fagan