by Bruce Lee Gallanter
Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter
Oct. 13, 2011
Violinist, composer and multi-ensemble leader, Jason Hwang, has been working on a number of more ambitious projects over the past few years. First there was the double disc 'The Floating Box', a chamber opera released on the New World label. Mr. Hwang has also composed and/or conducted a large string-based ensemble at the last few Vision Fests and this disc is the first documentation of that large ensemble. The Spontaneous River orchestra features some 24 strings, 7 guitars, six double basses and a drummer. That's nearly forty musicians involved, no small feat of organizing, conducting and recording. Over the past few years I have been listening to a great deal of symphonic music by a variety of twentieth century composers (Varese, Stravinsky, Xenakis, Zappa, etc.) and have gained a healthy dose of respect for the complexities involved.
"Symphony of Souls" is a massive effort and as I listen, I hear different themes evolving and growing. There are deep, dark and churning seas of strings moving at different levels. At times, Jason has certain sections of the strings plucking the notes pizzicato while other strings provide sliding, shifting waves around them. Eerie Penderecki-like buzzing gives way to more percussive sections with the strong, supportive drums of Andrew Drury at the center. You can tell that Jason Hwang put a great time of time into this each of the eleven movements explores different textures and compositional strategies. He pushes, pulls and manipulates the unwieldy ensemble in a variety of successful ways. This is a serious effort and it will take some time to absorb all of the treasures within.
- Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter, October 13, 2011