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Du Yun

An Empty Garlic (2014) for bass flute and electronics*

density 2036: part ii





*Commissioned by Project&.

DENSITY2036: Du Yun - an empty garlic [2014] | International Contemporary Ensemble

DENSITY2036: Du Yun - an empty garlic [2014] | International Contemporary Ensemble

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Program Notes

An Empty Garlic (2014) for bass flute and electronics

density 2036: part ii 

In memoriam for a beloved friend, An Empty Garlic draws on the sarabande, a baroque dance form, and more specifically one well known from Bach’s A minor Partita for solo flute. At the same time, it was inspired by one of Rumi’s mystical poems. “I often wonder about bereavement,” Du Yun writes in the program notes for the 2014 premiere. “When and how it pauses, recharges, morphs and restarts… I am so close to you I am distant, I am so mingled with you I am apart, I am so open I am hidden, I am so strong I totter.”

Du Yun, born and raised in Shanghai and currently based in New York City, is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, activist, and curator for new music who works at the intersection of orchestral, opera, chamber music, theater, cabaret, musical theater, oral tradition, public performances, sound installation, electronics, visual arts, and noise. 


Known for her “relentless originality and unflinching social conscience” (The New Yorker),  Du Yun won a Pulitzer Prize for Music for her second opera, Angel’s Bone (2017). In 2018, she was named a Guggenheim Fellow; in 2019, she was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Composition. She has been hailed by The New York Times as a groundbreaking artist, listed by The Washington Post as one of their Top 35 female composers, and selected by Rolling Stone Italia as one of the composers who defined the 2010s. 

Known as chameleonic in her protean artistic outputs, Du Yun’s works have been championed by some of today’s finest performing artists, ensembles, orchestras, museums, and organizations around the world. Her studio albums Sweet Land, A Cockroach’s Tarantella, Dinosaur Scar and Angel’s Bone were on The New Yorker’s list of “Notable Recordings of the Year” in 2021, 2020, 2018, and 2017, respectively. The double team work, a site-specific opera Sweet Land,with co-composer Raven Chacon, librettists Aja Couchois Duncan and Douglas Kearney, co-direction by Cannupa Hanska Luger and Yuval Sharon, was on the year-end best performance list by the LA Times and The New Yorker and won Best New Opera in 2021 by the North America Critics Award Association.


An alumna of Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Oberlin College (BM), and Harvard University (MA, Ph.D.), Du Yun is currently Professor of Composition at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

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