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Prelude on ‘Lenggang Kangkung’

Instrumentation: Organ

Duration: 4’ 10”

Written under commission from the Singapore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists for this concert, this piece takes a contemporary look at the eponymous Malay folk song. Ostensibly a short song about the kangkong plant (also known as the ‘water spinach’) in various locations and configurations, the lyrics ultimately convey a less innocent message to its listener, warning of retribution to be meted out for any arrogance and haughtiness on their part. This piece takes the melody of the song and places its fragments in various manuals as well as the keyboard, taking advantage of the organ stops to create a variety and contrast of timbres and tone colours. Structured around the melody itself, the first two lines of the verse are both ornamented with broken chord textures, before switching to slow chordal sections supporting the fragmented melody in long notes. Likewise, the third line is both ornamented and set in a chordal fashion similar to before, before the last line - which is introduced loudly and grandly - asserts itself at the top, the contrary moving harmonies suggesting the impending reckoning before the piece closes out with an oddly reconciliatory D major chord, with a subtle hint of the first two notes of the melody. 

(Synopsis taken from the programme notes of the premiere performance)

This piece received its Singapore premiere in August 2015 at the Victoria Concert Hall, and its American premiere in February 2016 at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, MD. In both cases, the composer gave the premiere.            

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