With Kris Palmer on wood flute, Nancy Kim on cello, and Steve Lin on guitar, the Black Cedar Trio applies this unique mix to a wide range of repertoire, including Renaissance love songs and dances, Baroque trio sonatas, Appalachian folk songs, and world premieres by living composers. They are particularly interested in promoting new chamber music coming out of Asia.
The San Francisco Examiner writes, “They bring a solid academic foundation to their performances…Black Cedar brought their historically-informed performance talents to the Noontime Concerts recital series at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral… The overall result was a delightful introduction to early repertoire, presented with historically-informed performances on modern instruments.” The South Bay Guitar Society writes, “They perform beautifully together: perfect synchronization of subtle rhythms and phrases.”
Their Davis Art Center program presents a beautiful Baroque trio sonata by the German flute master, Johann Joachim Quantz and a trio by Franz Joseph Haydn, both of which feature Palmer’s expertise in eighteenth-century performance practice. “Palmer is clearly among the few current performers on any instrument to fully understand the nature of this music,” writes the New York Concert Review.
The trio is especially excited to introduce some recent works by Asian composers, including music by Korea's Sook-Ja Oh and "Te Whangnui-a-Tara" by New Zealand's Ross Carey. Carey translates the title from the Maori language as "The Great Harbour of Tara," the original name for Wellington Harbor. He says the first movement "relates a time before any human presence around this body of water; the hills and valley are alive with the sounds of birds and insects." In the second movement, "energetic motions convey the great Earthquake of the 1400's, which raised the land where Wellington airport now stands." The third movement is "a contemporary portrait; the busy lives of the inhabitants scattered all around the quiet presence of the Great Harbour of Tara."
Guitarist, Steve Lin brings "A Journey Into Desire," a solo work written especially for him by China’s Lei Liang. The composer writes, “Lin asked me to compose a piece inspired by 'Honglou Meng' (Dream of the Red Chamber) written by the eighteenth-century Chinese author Cao Xueqin…I chose one thread in the story, and used core pitches to represent the protagonist Boyu and his journey down to the human realm…Boyu is to discover that the human realm is ultimately an illusory world. His journey into desire becomes a means to transcend desire…The structure of the piece follows a cyclical narrative that builds on infinite variations of the basic material – a strategy commonly used in Chinese traditional instrumental music. It is as if the music unfolds endlessly, without a focal point or a climax. It depicts the transitory moods and an overall atmosphere.”
Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu's meditative "Toward the Sea" for alto flute and guitar has become a masterpiece of 20th-century chamber music. Written in homage to Hermann Melville's novel, "Moby Dick," Takemitsu draws upon the spiritual dimension of the book, exemplified by his statement that, "meditation and water are wedded together…The music is a homage to the sea which creates all things and a sketch for the sea of tonality.” This work was commissioned in 1981 by Greenpeace to support their Save the Whales campaign.