AutoComposer Geng Li Proclaims the Power of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra

Composer Geng Li Proclaims the Power of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra

 They just don’t make music like they used to. That phrase has been uttered for hundreds of years by those who romanticize the melodies and rhythms that were the soundtrack for their youth. Geng Li chuckles whenever he hears such nonsense. He understands the sentiment but as a composer who infuses his musical creations with both the traditional and the modern, Geng dismisses the idea of music as anything other than a living, breathing, evolving creature. The composer’s recent work with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra of the Czech Republic was released on ABLAZE Records and exhibits the concept of how relevant and majestic the classical music genre can be. Geng is something of an old soul who believes in the connection which different art mediums what in an ability to elevate the emotional experience of us all. Preferring to use actual human musicians for his recordings over samples, his deep commitment to the arts community is evident in his work composing music for art installations at the Boston Sculptors Gallery and others. Attesting to his affinity for that partnership, the composer has been delving into a medium which he declares to be one which combines a multitude of highly creative elements; video games. 

  Nothing could be more poetic than Mr. Li’s “A Slow Piece for String Orchestra” which was performed and recorded by the ICMA (International Classical Music Awards)-nominated Brno Philharmonic Orchestra in early 2020. The composer wanted to convey the conflict and harmony between humans and nature, highlighting our attempts to dominate as well as our struggles to coexist with the natural world. Due to the pandemic, Geng watched on Zoom as the ensemble performed this piece whose message was particularly poignant as the world was still in lockdown. Sixty musicians, including sixteen first violins, fourteen second violins, twelve violas, ten cellos, and eight double basses convened to materialize Geng’s vision while the world found itself deeply struggling to make sense of reality. One of the very rare socially interactive moments during the pandemic, the composer admits to finding the entire experience deeply moving. He divulges, “I had written this particular piece on a rainy evening in January, during the nascent stages of the pandemic. That night, I was enveloped in a complex web of emotions that defied description. It was a moment of introspection and contemplation, further deepened by my completion of a book by Toru Takemitsu. In his writings, Takemitsu posits, ‘Art is nothing but the actualization of the creative spirit…’ This piece of music is a darkly passionate rumination on the world and the manner in which humans impose upon and fight against nature.” As Geng watched the session on Zoom, he witnessed the literal manifestation of this concept as artists came together while struggling against nature’s pandemic, understanding that it was the work of writer/composer Toru Takemitsu which had partially compelled him to create this music. 

  Geng collaborated with sculptor Andy Moerlein to compose original music to complement his wood stone poem “Pale Wave X On our beloved moment” during its 2021 appearance at the Boston Sculptors Gallery. In conceptualizing what would be most fitting for Moerlein’s piece, Mr. Li referred to the Japanese concept of “Sawari.” He describes, “In this composition, I aimed to capture and convey the most primitive and organic sounds of nature. In this composition, I aim to capture and convey the most primitive and organic sounds of nature. The term “Sawari,” borrowed from the esteemed Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, serves as a central inspiration. Takemitsu describes ‘Sawari’ describes as the beautiful inherent noise produced by musical instruments, a concept of auditory beauty that diverges from Western traditions. For example, in the tradition of the Shakuhachi, a ‘good’ sound is likened to the wind whispering through bamboo—essentially, the voice of the bamboo itself. In my work for ‘Pale Wave X On our beloved moment’, I sought to emulate this philosophy but through the medium of wood. It is the vibrations and the inherent voice of the wood that I wish to bring to the forefront, crafting a piece that resonates with the raw and unadulterated essence of nature itself.” It’s difficult to think of a more eloquent description of the creative insight linking music to sculpture and nature. 

  The expressive qualities of Geng’s musical composition are even more impressive when combined with the work of other talented artists. He’s particularly vocal about his excitement for the music he’s contributed to video games. Geng feels that these productions provide vast realms to explore as a creative stating, “A video game has the same elements as a film such as acting, visual arts, stories, music, sound, and creative expression. Plus, it also has one thing that film doesn’t have is the active participation of the audience. Because of this, the audience is more engaged than with most art forms. Regardless of the medium, the quintessential purpose of any art form is to channel the artist’s message to the world and its audiences. The fusion of two or three different art forms not only enriches the aesthetic experience but also intensifies the emotional resonance of the work, creating a more profound and impactful engagement with the audience.”

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