Composer P.Q. PHAN, born in 1962 in Vietnam, became interested in music while studying architecture. He taught himself to play the piano, compose, and orchestrate. In 1982 Mr. Phan immigrated to the United States and began his formal musical training. He earned his BM from University of Southern California and his DMA in Composition from University of Michigan , and has studied with Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, William Albright, and Barney Childs.
Mr. Phan's music has been performed throughout the world by the Kronos Quartet, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Radio France, Ensemble Modern, the Cincinnati Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Sinfonia da Camera, and Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, among others. Mr. Phan has received the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome , a Rockefeller Foundation Grant, an ASCAP Standard Award, Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship, Charles Ives Center for American Music fellowship, and residency at the MacDowell Colony. Currently Mr. Phan is concluding a Music Alive Residency, a program of Meet The Composer and the American Symphony Orchestra League, with American Composers Orchestra. Mr. Phan is an Associate Professor in composition at Indiana University at Bloomington .
Mr. Phan's recent works have focused on music that integrates the musical aesthetics of Southeast-Asia and the West.
"The memories and experiences that I gathered during my time growing up in Vietnam and establishing myself in the United States are the foundation of my compositions. I believe music reflects a good deal of cultural and ethnological philosophies and aesthetics; thus, elements derived from Southeast Asian, Euro-centric, and American traditions inspire my music. Among these, aspects of social communication and interaction have influenced my music immensely. In fact, most of my musical compositions are created in conjunction with social issue(s). These issues derive from the conflicts when cultures and ethnicity mix and merge."
Beyond the Mountains
Beyond the Mountains, a work for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, seeks to explore such facets of life as religious beliefs, philosophical practices, and social behaviors - those cultural aspects that are often distanced from cognitive recognition by the individual, but which greatly impact all individuals' lives. According to Phan, the piece reflects "conflicts and reinforcements between what is near to the individual and that which in folk stories is thought to exist, 'beyond the mountains.'"
Beyond the Mountains explores the duality of, says Phan, "how I understand people and how people understand me." A Vietnamese idiom, "beyond the mountains" is used to describe "the expectation of the unexpected," the passage into new and unfamiliar territory. "Let's say you have a mountain," Phan explains. "One side says 'this side is my home, the other side is the foreigner.' But the foreigner on the other side says 'this side is my home, you guys are the foreigner.'
"The first half of the piece is finding my way to understand the new culture and a way to express my culture to society. And the last part is frustration. Even small comments occasionally make me feel upset. Like people always say, 'where are you from?' I say ' Indiana ' and they say, 'no, no, where are you really from?'
is written for and dedicated to the Tanosaki-Richards Duo.