Composer’s New Recording Is An International Effort

The latest recording of music by NC State composer Rodney Waschka is the result of international mathematical inspiration and a collaboration of performers, engineers, and producers from around the world.

Waschka’s new piece, Au Revoir, Svetozar, is dedicated to the memory of a Yugoslav mathematician, Svetozar Kurepa. The work was composed for the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble (HKNME) using the dynamical system known as the Henon Map, named for the French mathematician, Michel Henon. The Hong Kong-based performers, who come from various countries, gave the world premiere of the work at the EchoFluxx Festival in Prague, the Czech Republic, in May, 2016, where it was warmly received. The HKNME recorded the work live for the Australian label, Ablaze Records. It has been released on the new CD, “Hong Kong New Music Ensemble: Live From Prague.” The official release parties for the disc took place in Macau and Hong Kong.

Au Revoir, Svetozar is scored for string quartet and zheng. The performers on the recording are Euna Kim, violin, Selena Choi, violin, William Lane, viola, Zhu Mu, cello, and Chiu Tan Ching, zheng. The zheng, is a Chinese 21-string zither.

Au Revoir, Svetozar (2016) is dedicated to the memory of the mathematician, Svetozar Kurepa, who was a friend of the composer. The author of many books and research articles, Svetozar Kurepa was, along with his uncle, Djuro Kurepa, the face of mathematics in Yugoslavia in the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century. As a result of his textbooks written for the high-school through doctoral level, Svetozar Kurepa’s name was recognized by people across the region. Everyone from shop clerks to journal­ists to healthcare professionals to manual laborers knew his name. Svetozar Kurepa worked mainly in functional analysis and operator theory. He received many awards and taught in Yugoslavia, Canada, and the US.

Au Revoir, Svetozar was made with a computer program, designed and coded by Waschka, based on the dynamical system known as the Henon Map. This deterministic mathematical system, first described by the French math­ematician Michel Henon, displays chaotic behavior. The piece also employs the vire­lai, Douce Dame, by 14th-century composer Guillaume de Machaut, as a cantus firmus. The program mapped the output of the dynamical system to pitch in most instances and mapped the output to duration in the case of the cantus firmus.  

Waschka is professor of arts studies in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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