Weeding the Mountain was commissioned by Zenas Kim-Banther. It was composed in Brookline, Massachusetts and completed in January of 2011.
“Weeding the Mountain” is based solely on folk music from the Kangwon region of South Korea, where Zenas’s family originated. As an outsider to the culture, I was delighted to listen to the folk music from this region, transcribe it to its most minute details, and use my findings in a new composition. The title comes from the fact that one of the sources of livelihood in this region comes from collecting herbs along the mountain. Due to the mountainous landscape, planting crops is not practical in this region, and its inhabitants must rely mostly on fishing and on “weeding the mountain”. As I was composing the piece, I tried to get into the mindset of those people who walk alone on the windy mountain, trying to collect enough food to support their families. The lonely trombonist in contrast with the three percussion players may be seen as representing man vs. nature. Each percussion player plays through cycles of rhythm, though to each player his own beat, his own tempo. The trombone can be heard trying to fight those cycles of nature, then to predict those cycles, and eventually – join them. But nature being nature, stays rather indifferent to man’s attempts.