Cynthia Wong

Notes from the Composer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Three Portraits

Performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Conducted by Paul Zukofsky

I remember reading a poem about a person who, while dreaming, unlocked certain life truths, only to forget them upon waking.  This moment, in which one is suspended in wonderment in the face of mysterious yet daunting absence, when one is armed only with the power of questioning and the knowledge of no longer knowing—this is the moment that opens the piece.  It is from this sense of loss that all else springs: the restless uncertainty of the first movement; the meditative stillness of the second; and the muted madness of the third. 

One can perceive the portraits of Three Portraits as belonging to the same individual, yet taken from different moments of that person’s life. The perspectives that others have of the individual and that the individual has of the self clash at times clash, and at times they are inseparably combined.

Three Portraits is painted in dark and subtle colors, the orchestration more transparent than full, the proportions clearly defined, the interplay of lines both savage and delicate.

Additional excerpt from Three Portraits


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Comments [73]

blee from marlborough ma

I really love Cynthia's piece. It is distinctive, memorable and well composed! For some reason, it reminds me of Poe's poems, esp "The Bells" delicate and hauntingly beautiful, yet mysterious, and strangely maddening. Stirs you to want to hear more! And I hope I will.
She is, without doubt, the best choice for the Orpheus Project.

Oct. 08 2010 02:20 AM
L. Soifer from Santa Fe and New York

Listening to Cynthia’s music one is captivated by the beauty of the pieces. I have had the pleasure to hear several of her compositions including the premiere of her piano quartet in Santa Fe, NM as well as recordings of her String Quartet #1, On Baldness and Other Songs and Three Portraits. The chamber music pieces display an interesting interplay between the instruments as well as clarity of musical line. Each piece sets the mood from the start as haunting, mysterious and, at times playful. She manipulates the musical material will skill and puts her personal stamp on her music. She is surely most deserving of a commission in Project 440

Oct. 04 2010 05:22 PM

I loved this piece just as I love all the music I've heard from her!

Sep. 29 2010 10:08 AM
Suyash from New York

Happy Birthday Cynthia! It would be such a great birthday present for you to receive one of these incredible and prestigious commissions. And I can't think of a sweeter, more deserving, or more talented composer. Cynthia's music is rich and thoughtful, reflecting her deep character and caring personality. I hope she receives this opportunity to continue her contribution to music!

Sep. 26 2010 04:49 PM
Donna M. Santora

Evocative and atmospheric. Kudos to a wonderful talent!

Sep. 21 2010 01:46 PM
DW from Astoria, NY

I listened to the music of the 12 finalists, some of which I didn't like. But, Cynthia's piece stood out as different from the others. There is a particular quality and mystique to her music. I found myself so attracted to the piece, that I listened to it several times. It is as contemporary as it is original and would love to hear more from her!

Sep. 20 2010 11:08 PM
Nina from New York

Haunting and strange. Mysterious. Pretty. I like it.

Sep. 20 2010 04:51 PM
BL from Albany, NY

An intriguing piece from the start that is both hauntingly beautiful, with wonderful contrasts, & very memorable. Thoughtful, creative & highly intelligent music that demonstrates true ability & talent. I am absolutely drawn to the power & delicacy of her music-would love to hear more from this gifted composer. A most deserving candidate for Orpheus.

Sep. 19 2010 12:41 AM
Kim Fedri

Cynthia's music is amazing. She is an exceptionally talented composer. I can't wait to hear her next composition.

Sep. 14 2010 04:33 PM
Patricia Horgan

Bravo!!! Cynthia

Sep. 11 2010 06:29 PM
Wayne K Ford from Beaverton, OR

Disturbing. Such a short piece but it is able to reach into something inside me and stimulate, what for me upon first hearing the piece were dark unnerving emotions. Cynthia's short work suggests not only her mastery of the music, but also an ability to reach out through the musicians to broach the listener's psyche. I imagine this is just what a world class composer must aspire to. Excellence.

Sep. 09 2010 02:20 PM
MJ from Boston

I like this piece. It reminds me a bit of Ives, Stravinsky, Prokofiev with later 20/21st century touches. It is, of course, Cynthia's work and shows a fine and interesting talent. I would buy this piece.

Sep. 09 2010 02:06 PM
Peter La Barbera from Menifee, CAl

Cynthia, somewhat like Pat Metheny of the jazz world, has the creativeness, for those of us without musical abilities but sensual communicative skills, to take us to places of the mind, spirit and soul to explore and absorb the textures of sounds that will envelop us into another sphere.

Sep. 09 2010 01:47 PM
George K from NYC

a beautiful and intriguing artwork, would love an expanded version to sink into for a while.

Sep. 09 2010 01:37 PM
Jackie De Los Santos from South Florida

Wow! The last time I saw Cynthia was when she was about 8!! This is a great surprise! Very nice use of texture and a nice expansion on the nuances each instrument. Evokes feelings of mystery, of things just skimming the surface - giving you a vague and hazy peek of what's coming. From one Juilliard alum to another - brava Cynthia!!

Sep. 07 2010 04:29 AM
Mike from Northborough

I lived nest door to Cynthia growing up in Massachusetts. I used to hear music all the time coming from the house. It was great, this is even better.

Aug. 15 2010 09:15 PM
Sinja Cho from Manhattan

It sounds great! I want to listen more music of Cynthia Wong. And I really thank Mr. Larry Putterman who introduced this wonderful composer's music to me.

Aug. 06 2010 08:21 AM

Other-worldly and mysterious, but also precise and intelligent. I agree with those who say that Cynthia Wong will be important in the contemporary world of composition.

Aug. 03 2010 09:19 AM
Denise DeVone

multi layered transparencies - like overlapping conversations - overheard snippets in a crowd

Jul. 28 2010 09:41 PM

Cynthia is a remarkable natural talent with a fierce musical imagination. The excerpt here is an excellent demonstration of her keen ear for the subtleties of orchestral sounds and for a truly original sense of continuity. I'm sure she could produce a fascinating piece that would take full advantage of the extraordinary palette Orpheus would offer her.

Jul. 27 2010 09:40 AM
Ceyhun Sahinkaya from New York

I really like that!!! good work!!

Jul. 26 2010 05:32 PM
Alan Burstin from New York, NY

I particularly enjoy the piece(s) I heard from composer Cynthia Wong. My friend Larry Putterman from the Julliard School suggested that I listen to her work, and I'm really impressed !!!! I voted for her as the composer who should be commissioned to compose a new work for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for a premiere at Carnegie Hall. Is there a recording yet of her String Quartet # 1 ?

Jul. 23 2010 08:11 AM
Ekaterina from NYC

It's beautiful! And the public should get a chance to hear it... All the good luck to the most talented people - to Cynthia Wong!

Jul. 21 2010 09:24 PM
marieme from New-York

I have really enjoyed listening to this extract .I truly believe that you are very talented and i hope you will obtain great achievements in your musical career.

Jul. 20 2010 10:17 PM
Lilia Andonova from New York

I am intrigued by the concept of Three Portraits and would love to hear the entire piece. Cynthia is very dedicated and precise in her work and I hope her talent receives appropriate recognition in this contest.

Jul. 20 2010 11:19 AM
John Theobald from New York

I have met Cynthia on a number of levels. She is in possession of innumerable positive quailities.
Articulate, responsible, intelligent and truly profesional in all her dealings.
It is a blessing to be introduced to her talents at this early stage of her career.It is a priviledge to capture the artistry and compositional gifts that she possesses.

Jul. 20 2010 10:16 AM
Gin K Gee from Guangzhou, China

Cynthia Wong is indeed a gifted and creative composer. The energy, emotion, sensitivity, and beauty in her music fill up all my seneses when I listen to it. She will be a superstar in the composer community.

Jul. 19 2010 09:23 PM
Samantha from New York

Cynthia Wong is a brilliant composer and a beautiful person. I've had the pleasure of knowing Cynthia as a friend for years, and find her to be an exceptionally kind, compassionate, considerate, intelligent, imaginative, disciplined, hard-working, honest, dedicated, delightful individual. I cannot recommend Cynthia Wong too highly.

Jul. 19 2010 10:41 AM

An old friend suggested I listen to Ms. Wong's piece on the WQXR site. I was very moved and hope to hear more of her work in New York very soon.

Jul. 18 2010 10:05 AM
Lisa from London

An emotive piece of music, as many of her pieces often are. It is haunting and powerful with searching sadness. Cynthia has a keen ability to express her ideas through her music. I have been fortunate to know Cynthia for several years and hear many of her pieces. She is a truly dedicated and talented artist.

Jul. 17 2010 05:58 AM
Din Estabrook

Having been present at the premiere of Cynthia's String Quartet # 1 and her works for the "piece -a- day" project in 2009, I was delighted to experience more of her work via the excerpt of "Three Portraits". For me, Cynthia's compositional style prompts a state of careful attentiveness, striving to capture and fully appreciate the image being audibly painted ... in a sense, a spellbinding effect!
Also I noted that when Cynthia participated with several student composers for a lengthy on-stage panel discussion / interview at Tanglewood, her contribution was both mature and professional.
Compounding this talent with remarkable pianistic capability and a sincere and charming personality, places her very highly in my esteem. I'm looking forward to the ongoing progress of her young career.

Jul. 14 2010 05:18 PM
Kate from Boston

I have been honored to hear Cynthia perform at Jordan Hall (NEC). And her talent always amazes me.

Jul. 13 2010 08:55 PM

The intro is way too short but very soothing and dream-like and very mysterious. Excellent!

John from NY

Jul. 13 2010 08:09 PM
Linda Larson from North Carolina

This music of Cynthia's is beautiful--as was the piece I had the privilege of performing a few years ago. That piece was beautifully structured, lyrical, intimate at times, strongly dramatic, and moving to both audience and performers. Cynthia was also a pleasure to work with--clear about her musical intentions and goals while attentive to the needs of the performers.

Jul. 12 2010 08:35 PM
SGP from New York

Riding in a cab once with Cynthia on the way back from a premier of her composition, she said to me that she saw the purpose of music, not only her own but of music more broadly, as a way of bringing people together. It is true that her music is deeply expressive and rich, rendering it profound but still accessible, but to see a greater good that music can serve is perhaps rare. I believe this is something also championed by Orpheus, something I remember thinking while attending an earlier concert of theirs at Carnegie which was to be the first set of notes played on WQXR's public waves.

Cynthia's sweetness and good nature are some of the qualities that make her a wonderful person, and her life experiences give a soulfulness to her music that makes the music exceptional. She is a superb candidate for Orpheus' innovative commission.

Jul. 12 2010 08:30 PM
Norman Carey from NYC

Cynthia's music has that capacity to move and provoke, to engage us as listeners, that is the mark of a really profound composer. This is a composer that we should all hear more from.

Jul. 12 2010 04:34 PM
Ben Janowski from New York

I met Cynthia briefly as we sat next to each other at a NY Philharmonic rehearsal. At the break we chatted briefly about the work we had heard, and it was quickly apparent Cynthia had a well developed instinct for music with a strong emotional content (which was not the case with the piece we heard!)
On listening to this excerpt of her "Three Portraits", short as it is, the first sensation was raw emotion displayed with refined, transparent clarity and a classic sense. Bravo, Cynthia.

Jul. 07 2010 01:26 PM
Les Dreyer

Ms. Wong is an extraordinary talent---a gifted composer, pianist, and believe it or not, a wonderful and witty cartoonist! (See her drawings in The Juilliard Journal.)

Jul. 07 2010 01:19 PM
GFB from NY

I think in a few years Ms. Wong will be considered a major composer. I listened to her music several times and I loved it.

Jul. 04 2010 09:27 PM
Maggie Chiang from San Francisco area

A beautiful piece of lamenting melody that is so aesthetically soothing to the ear.

Jul. 04 2010 07:31 PM
Amanda Medina from NY

I love this piece it has a soft mysterious but beautiful sound. Cynthia Wong is full of talent and I hope to hear more from her in the future!! :-D

Jul. 02 2010 04:12 PM
yvonne ching from Saratoga, Ca

Brilliant! Hauntung melody with lingering tones of loneliness and sadness.

Jun. 30 2010 04:03 PM
Jessica from Washington, DC

I love this. Go Cynthia!

Jun. 30 2010 11:08 AM
Clarissa from NYC

Thought provoking.... shows a great talent.

Jun. 29 2010 12:57 PM
Eric Grode

When I wanted to commission an original piano work for my 5-year wedding anniversary, Meet the Composers put me in touch with Cynthia. She ended up creating a haunting and truly memorable piece, and these excerpts continue to affirm my belief that she is an exceptional talent.

Jun. 28 2010 04:49 PM
Miguel Antonio Rivera

I had the privilege of being her student for three months at Baruch College, where she teachesHarmony.
I find this humble, unpretentious musician exceptionally gifted.

Jun. 28 2010 03:44 PM
Patricia Wong from Mahwah, New Jersey

I have had the pleasure of hearing several of Cynthia's compositions, and found each one immensely interesting, beautiful and unique. I hope we will all have a chance to hear more of her compositions in the future.

Jun. 28 2010 12:26 AM
Jerry Benz from Lopatcong, NJ

Brilliant on so many levels! Cynthia has the ability to tap into the areas of the human mind and the senses that we generally take for granted, or are just unaware of. These are timeless works by a phenomenal artist who is way ahead of her years...Bravo!

Jun. 26 2010 12:44 PM
S Lee

We have had the pleasure of hearing her play. She is truly very talented. We wish her the best of luck. Her compositions are outstanding.

Jun. 25 2010 05:52 PM
Judy Wong from New York

Incredibly beautiful piece from a brilliant talented composer! As always never disappointed in the work.

Jun. 25 2010 01:06 PM
Wendy Law from NYC

I absolutely LOVE this piece. It's hauntingly beautiful! I have known Cynthia since High School and she is an amazing composer and person. She has written a piece for me called "Wendioso" while we were students at Juilliard, and I still have the cover of the piece hung on my wall. It is no surprise to me that Cynthia is doing so well with her career. This month she is featured in an article in the Chamber Music America Magazine! Way to go Cynthia! I hope that you win and I think that you most definitely deserve it! Orpheus should feel honored to play your work!!

Jun. 25 2010 12:18 PM
Juan Moreira from New York

Wonderful work but, then again one cannot expect anything less from Cynthia Wong. This piece is soothing at first but then an eerie mood starts to descend upon my ears. It is both haunting and seductive. The only problem is that I only get a 1.57 minute teaser! I cant wait to hear the rest of this.

Jun. 25 2010 11:48 AM
Marcel Rominger from New York

In the music of Cynthia Wong, there is a both a mysterious and mischevous beauty held within each melodic line. It suspends you in mid breath. This piece does just that.

Jun. 25 2010 12:24 AM

I really enjoyed this piece of music. Cynthia Wong is truely talented and I look forward to listening to more of her works in the future.

Jun. 24 2010 08:47 PM
Barry Ho

The work gives me a "soft" feeling. I also feel that it is kind of "mysterious", as it seems to portrait some secrets inside a person's mind, waiting to be unveiled.

Hope I can listen to the full piece in the future. Keep up the good work!

Jun. 24 2010 07:44 PM
Siddiq Mohamed from New York

Evokes so many feelings that one listen just doesn't give it justice. Bravo C.W.

Jun. 24 2010 04:08 PM
Tanja Becker-Bender from Berlin

Cynthia's wonderful humanity and warm and imaginative personality are apparent in each of her works I have had the chance to hear. It was a great pleasure and honor to give the premiere of her Sonatina as a violinist during our time as students together at Juilliard. It was impressive to see with what amazing intensity she kept composing all the time since then, and to see her success everywhere. All very best wishes to Cynthia also for the future!!!

Jun. 24 2010 01:37 PM
Dave D from NYC

this is wonderful music!

Jun. 21 2010 10:41 AM
Tatyana Dudochkin from Boston, MA

21 century got a great talent! Bravo Cynthia!

Jun. 19 2010 10:19 PM
Stephanie from Philadelphia

This is a beautifully soft composition. It is an inspiring piece and I would love to hear more. I picture a person on a journey (whether in a dream or reality) when I hear the introduction.

Cynthia would be my choice composer to be commissioned by Orpheus.

Jun. 19 2010 08:12 PM
Amaryah Ju from Woodbridge, NJ

An inspiring song that leaves me wanting to listen to the full piece!

Jun. 19 2010 09:01 AM
Andre Bregegere from Brooklyn

Beautiful. Can't wait to see/hear the piece in its entirety!

Jun. 18 2010 06:32 PM
Dan from New York

She good!

Jun. 18 2010 06:11 PM
astrid ackermann from germany

it is wonderfull

Jun. 18 2010 05:10 PM
Tonton Macoute from Westchester County, NY

These works seem to capture the bleak future of a beaten and self-destructive, 21st-century America. Wonderful!

Jun. 18 2010 01:59 PM

Fabulous stuff!

Jun. 18 2010 01:09 PM
Fanny-Min Becker from Hong Kong / Düsseldorf

This music is compelling, inviting, bewitching.

I hear Pain lamenting and Joy breaking in. I am lured into a domain deep and fathomless, farther, farther, farther. And I can feel my frail heart beating, vigorously, in response ...

Thanks for the 1.58 minutes. Wish I knew where to click to hear more.



Jun. 18 2010 09:43 AM
chris kim from Woodbridge, New Jersey

She's Awesome!!

Jun. 18 2010 09:30 AM

Wonderful piece!

Jun. 18 2010 09:05 AM
Irantzu Agirre from Spain

A beautifull well thougth - out piece!

Jun. 18 2010 02:04 AM
Nge Tung Wong from New York

Outstanding. Loved the composition and
excellently composed. Never heard anything so outstanding.

Jun. 17 2010 07:21 PM

this is very beautiful.

Jun. 17 2010 03:30 PM
Liz Wollman from New York

This is astonishing!

Jun. 17 2010 02:50 PM

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