EarShot Sarasota Orchestra – Composer Spotlight: Sam Wu

The music of Sam Wu deals with the beauty in blurred boundaries. From Shanghai, China, Wu attends The Juilliard School for his M.M., after receiving an A.B., with honors, from Harvard University. His teachers include Tan Dun, Robert Beaser, Chaya Czernowin, Richard Beaudoin, and Derek Bermel. Wu also has been featured on the National Geographic Channel, Business Insider, Harvard Crimson, Yale Daily, Asahi Shimbun, People’s Daily, China Daily USA, SinoVision, CCTV, and ICS, among others.

Sam’s piece Wind Map was selected for the EarShot Sarasota Orchestra New Music Readings, where it will be rehearsed and performed under the direction of conductor Christopher Rountree. A reading session on Saturday, March 16, 8PM is open to the public at Holley Hall. Click here for more information.

We spoke with Sam about his piece and the EarShot program.

Composer Sam Wu

American Composers Orchestra: What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Sarasota Orchestra EarShot New Music Readings?

Sam Wu: I was thrilled! It is a rare opportunity for young composers to hear their orchestral music played live, particularly by an ensemble of as high a caliber as the Sarasota Orchestra. I also really look forward to meeting my amazing peer composers and our esteemed mentor composers!

ACO: You write that Wind Map was composed with inspiration from a graphic visualization of global wind patterns, in which empirical data results in aesthetic beauty. Are there any examples in your piece of this same process, in which the input (pitches, note-lengths, or dynamics, for example) came from rigid, empirical data, but resulted in something much more artistic?

SW: Not really! I did not think as much of producing direct musical “analogies” of the empirical data. Rather, I wanted to perhaps “reinterpret” the swirls and colors of the wind map in musical form; in general, once I feel that I have a source of inspiration I want to explore throughout an entire piece, I keep it in the back of my mind as I think more abstractly / in musical terms as I start writing.

View the live graphic visualization of global wind patterns at earth.nullschool.net

ACO: What are you doing to prepare for the readings? Are there any changes you have made to your piece?

SW: Besides some minor instrumentation changes, I also shortened a few bars, and played with some harmonies in the climactic session. I was lucky to hear this piece read by the Juilliard Orchestra last fall, so I based my edits off of that reading recording.

ACO: What are you looking forward to about the workshops and readings? What do you hope to learn from the experience?

SW: I really look forward to hearing and studying the other pieces being read! I feel that, in addition to lessons with teachers, I also learn so much from my friends and peers (both their works, and how they contribute in rehearsal settings). I’m sure that I will feel the same way when I’m in Sarasota. I also am excited to learn more about the “behind-the-scenes” work of a professional American orchestra — ACO and Sarasota organized various career development Q&A sessions with the Sarasota staff in addition to the readings and feedback sessions themselves.

Words cannot describe how grateful I am to be able to participate in EarShot; a HUGE thank you to everyone at ACO and the wonderful Sarasota Orchestra for making all this possible for us!

Sam Wu’s piece Wind Map will be performed by the Sarasota Orchestra, led by conductor Christopher Rountree, on Saturday, March 16, 8PM at Holley Hall. Click here for more information.

Learn more about Sam Wu at www.samwumusic.com

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