Mihyun Woo: Voices in Landscape

November 5, 2022 / ISCM – SOUTH KOREAN SECTION

The compositions of Mihyun Woo (b. 1980) have been performed by ensembles and orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Arditti Quartet, the Royal Academy Soloists, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the Korean Broadcast System Orchestra (Seoul), the Bacau Philharmonic Orchestra (Romania), the Royal Academy Symphony, Choir Commotio (U.K.), the contemporary ensemble SORI (Korea), etc. Her pieces have been awarded at competitions such as the George Enescu International Composition Competition – first prize, the A. Rendano International Composition Competition – first prize, the Queen Elizabeth International Competition Composition Semi-final (seventh place), the Erick Court Composition Prize, the Alan Bush Prize, etc.

About her 2008 unaccompanied choral work Voices in Landscape, the composer writes: This work has initiated from my research into the particular character of human voice that clearly differs from other instruments. I have discovered that the tone colour of human voice bends according to vowels in words. Each vowel is different in reference to the width of the opened mouth. For instance, ‘a’ (ah) is said with the mouth wide-open, whereas in the process of moving onto ‘e’ (eh), as the mouth gradually narrows, a slightly eerier tone is produced. Furthermore, similarly to the violin vibrato, the resonance in voice can be controlled by the vibrato in the voice box. Therefore, I used vowel sounds ‘aiai’ and ‘ouou’ for efficiency. In order to maximize the energy the human voice is able to create, I adopted a type of ‘attack’ effect of the stringed instrument also in voice with ‘ta’ and ‘ka’, which produce a brutal starting tone. I also put in non-pitched syllables such as ‘shi’, ‘sha’, ‘shu’, ‘kiki’ to express the percussive effects of human voice.