Gia Dinh for orchestra
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[EMBARGOED UNTIL 6/1/2023] Gia Dinh, meaning "family" in Vietnamese, is an exploration of intergenerational trauma, cultural inheritance, and what is lost between eras. Specifically, I am focusing on the greater Vietnamese diaspora and the Vietnamese boat people, who traveled across the ocean in makeshift boats in search of a future for their families. Many of my own family members were a part of this generation, and only within recent years have they chosen to share their stories with me. Each movement acts as a musical portrait of the various aspects and roots of intergenerational trauma and is titled with a Vietnamese proverb that describes the value of family and the perceived relationship between parent and child in Vietnamese culture. The opening movement, "Cha nao con nay," (Like father, like child) observes heritage, tradition, and culture as trauma. Conflicting generational values often create rifts between parent and child, particularly in Western countries. What should we pass down and teach? And at what cost? Borrowing thematic material from the Vietnamese folk song Ly Keo Chai, I present fragments of the song without ever presenting the melody in its entirety. These musical splinters are introduced clearly, but quickly disintegrate into the orchestral texture. The second movement,"Khong co gi bang com voi ca, khong co gi bang ma voi con," (There is nothing like rice with fish, there is nothing like mother with child) considers colonization and war as a source of trauma. Vietnam was colonized by the French in the mid-1800s, which played a large part in the spread of Catholicism among Vietnamese people. Shortly after Vietnam gained independence from France, the Vietnam War broke out, which ultimately led to the mass exodus from the country. A unique aspect of Vietnamese Catholic practice is the tradition of doc kinh, in which all prayers and responses are sung or chanted. I directly quote Kinh Thu Nhan (Penitential Act), which is preceded by a fragmented theme that slowly builds into the chant. The final movement, "Blood is thicker than water," (Mot giot mau dao hon ao nuoc la) examines migration, displacement, and assimilation as forms of trauma. In addition to what is passed on to the next generation, this movement also explores what is lost. Language, culture, and history can all be lost within a single generation as a result of displacement. This is represented musically by two extremely contrasting themes: a slow, lyrical melody inspired by Vietnamese folk melodies and a fractured, unrelenting section that cycles through the entire orchestra. I bounce between the two themes until the music melts into a coda that recalls the first movement.