Miya Masaoka

Praying for a Sign

Miya Masaoka

Praying for a Sign

About the Piece

This piece was composed during the lockdown restrictions during the Pandemic, November 202, in Berlin Germany.

While in Quarantine, I wrote this piece, while in pain and grief for a friend I knew and those I didn’t know, and for the precariousness of the state of the world, and America.  I was having a hard time, but nothing like others, and certainly not compared to my parents who were interned into concentration camps in the Los Angeles and Utah during WW II.   Surely, I could make it through this, which paled in comparison to their experience of being locked in prison camps for 4 years.

This piece is for me not unlike a photograph, or a moment in time.   With a repetitive,  saturated, intense brutal sound contrasted to a brief and fragile melodic fragment that shines through on rare occasion, this piece is  subliminal, raw, without pretension. I was inspired by the resiliency of my parents, and of the people of the United States, and this symbolic gesture, this  praying for a sign, is dedicated to them.

Deep Gratitude to Min Kwon, and her vision for this project, the Center for Musical Excellence, and the America the Beautiful Project.

About Miya Masaoka

The Wire calls her work, “virtuosic, magnificent… essential.”

Miya Masaoka is an American composer and sound artist. Her work explores bodily perception of vibration, movement and time while foregrounding complex timbre relationships. In 2018 she joined the Columbia University Visual Arts Department as an Associate Professor, where she is the director of the Sound Art Program, a joint program with the Computer Music Center.  A 2019 Studio Artist for the Park Avenue Armory, Masaoka has also received the Doris Duke Artist Award, a Fulbright Fellowship to Japan, and an Alpert Award. Her work has been presented at the Venice Biennale, MoMA PS1, Kunstmuseum Bonn, and the Park Avenue Armory. She has received the Civitelli Ranieri award, and the Residency at Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle Residency, the Headlands Residency, and the Montalvo Residency Fellowship. She has been commissioned by and collaborated with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, La Jolla Symphony, the Glasgow Choir, Ensemble Evolution, (International Contemporary Ensemble), Volti, Joan Jeanrenaud of Kronos, Kathleen Supove, Bang on a Can, Del Sol, So Percussion, Momenta and the S.E.M. Ensemble and the Library of Congress for Kathryn Bates, and for Alonzo King and Lines Ballet, and  Movement Research. Her outdoor sound installation, “Listen Ahead and Ear Hut” was exhibited at the Caramoor, Katonah, New York, and her Noh Opera “Long Arc of Time,” which includes traditional Noh actors and vocalists and Western opera singers, will be performed in Ostrava, Czech Republic, as part of the Opera Festival NODO. (2021)

About Discovery Composers

As the artistic director of Center for Musical Excellence, I am always on the look out for new and undiscovered talents.  They come to me, sometimes, by my colleagues’ recommendations and other times through young artists’ own research about our organization.  Tyson Davis and Andrew Bambridge are currently on our roster of CME Young Artists, whom we mentor.  Patricio Molina is a CME alumnus. Theo Chandler, Ji-Young Ko, and Daniel Newman-Lessler applied for our Grant program, and I got to know their work through that process. I decide on young artists when I notice a deep passion and drive within them, plus a certain kind of sparkle in the personality and lots of humility.  In addition to musical talents, I believe these are the qualities that will take the young artists far.  CME’s motto is "Moving Musicians Forward".  I’ve chosen our Discovery Composers based on these qualities,  whom we felt we could easily move forward.

- Min Kwon