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Dr Tonia Ko at Carnegie Hall

Dr Tonia Ko at Carnegie Hall

  • Date04 March 2024

Tonia’s new orchestral work Her Land Expanded will receive its world premiere on 12th March at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York City.

Tonia Ko By Kaupo Kikkas Resized

Dr Tonia Ko

It will be performed by the American Composers Orchestra, conducted by Rei Hotoda, featuring video design by filmmaker and 2018 Guggenheim Fellow Alexandra Cuesta. The piece is part of the Fall of the Weimar Republic festival and was co-commissioned by American Composers Orchestra and Carnegie Hall.

More about the piece

Her Land, Expanded is composer Tonia Ko’s second collaboration with filmmaker Alexandra Cuesta. In their respective mediums, the artists share interests in the experimentation of form and the poetic fragmentation of materials. Despite being inspired by ideals and techniques of the European avant-garde (much originating in the creative flourishing of the Weimar Republic), this piece presents an outsider’s perspective in multiple ways. For both artists, the concepts behind Her Land, Expanded feel autobiographical. Cuesta’s Ecuadorian background and Ko’s roots in Hong Kong and Hawai‘i give them unique vantage points on the loss of nature and the complex effects of colonization. 

Both music and visuals contain the rhetoric of a litany, a repetitive prayer for lost landscapes. The piece is a lament on the expansion of human settlement over nature and indigenous ways of life. Cuesta’s film evokes a feeling of displacement where nowhere is truly home: a woman’s face is isolated and overwhelmed equally by thick rainforest undergrowth and unforgiving cityscapes. Ko’s score is similarly a ‘lost’ soundscape, inspired by a field recording of tolling church bells in an eerie minor key. These plaintive sounds were subjected to a digital process of spectral freezing before being transcribed intricately for orchestra.

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