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Confessions of a Cancer Cell 《一个癌细胞的”自述“》

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Quintet
2023
10 min.

Alto Saxophone

Baritone Saxophone

Piano

Soprano Saxophone

Tenor Saxophone

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Program Notes
Human life activities cannot be separated from the working of cells, which are the basic structural and functional units of our body. However, they cannot be seen by the human eye. There are millions of cells in our body, and these cells are all small partners in our cell family. But sometimes, those cells are relatively naughty. They like to wander around, and along the way, they meet groups of other naughty partners like them, so people call those naughty partners "Canceration" and called those naughty cells "cancer cells." Then, people use all kinds of violence to besiege cancer cells, expel them, and kill them, resulting in many positive cells also being destroyed and dying, so that the normal function of the human body is finally lost, and people’s lives are taken away. In my piece Confessions of a Cancer Cell, I situate the “cancer cell” in the first person to musically describe the process of Canceration leading to the final torture and death of a human. I put forward new reflections and thoughts about how we should face the potential positive and negative cells in our body with the correct attitude. Confessions of a Cancer Cell is written for piano and saxophone quartet. The piece is divided into four sections. In the first part of the piece, I use light textures and percussive sounds, gradually transitioning to actual pitches to show the activity and diversity of our body's cells. As the music progresses, the piece reaches the second part, where the harsh, sharp piano cluster sound interrupts the previous balance, implying that the normal cells of the body are beginning to solidify with different cancerous cells. The musical phrases become more uncertain, with the saxophone's slap tongue and flutter tones creating interruptions in this piece. The use of extreme registers and dramatic range shifting depict the violent destruction of cancer cells by people. When the main musical components reappear with strong dynamics, the music arrives at the third part. The tempo quickens, gradually transitioning from a polyphonic texture to a monophonic texture, depicting the progressive spread of cancer cells in people’s bodies and their eventual gathering together in a process leading to death. The final climax, articulated through the extreme, highest pitch in all saxophones, leads to the final cathartic section depict the extreme fear and pain people feel before dying of cancer. In reality, cancer is not impossible to overcome, and our brain is the baton of our cells. If people are able to maintain steady moods, the heart can secrete a chemical that is the best "stabilizer" for us to stay well. After the final climax of the piece, the light and active texture finally reappear, the saxophone has more long-lined melodies and sustained texture, and the harmonious colors bring more peace, reflection, and inspiration. When we face cancer cells, please don't think of using chemotherapy and other cruel means to kill them first. We should maintain an optimistic attitude towards life, keep good habits and often participate in activities with loving energy, and all naughty and negative cells will become more and more stable and well-behaved, and we will all live together in peace and harmony.
Ensemble Name
UMKC Corvus quartet