September Songs (2023)

chamber quartet (two erhu, viola & cello)

two erhu, viola & cello

12 min. 45 sec.

September Songs was written for erhu quartet (two erhu, viola, and cello), and is comprised of three movements: “The Hummingbird”, “To the Rising Moon”, and “Tunnels of Light”. The first movement, “The Hummingbird”, captures the light, delicate movements of these tiny feathered creatures. Featuring trills, tremolo, quick rhythmic patterns, and short melodic phrases, the energy of this movement leads into something more calm and a bit mysterious in the second movement.

“To the Rising Moon” opens with the first several notes of a Gregorian plainchant melody found in the “Graduale Romanum” (c. 8th century). This melody develops gently, making use of canonic phrases, and the idea of mirror images—as the moon rises to its peak in the sky, before sinking again behind the trees. This movement was also inspired by a short work by the 13th century poet and mystic, Rumi:

“There is a way
From your heart to mine
And my heart knows it
Because it is clean and pure like water When the water is still like a mirror
It can behold the Moon.”

This gentle interlude melts back into the energy of the third movement, “Tunnels of Light”. Inspired by the ongoing movement of clouds in the sky on an overcast day, and the fleeting moments where the sunshine suddenly bursts through in brilliant, colourful rays– there are several short melodic and rhythmic motifs at work in this movement, combined and recombined playfully.

September Songs was commissioned by Vancouver-based erhu player, Lan Tung, and its creation was funded with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre.