Apollo Chamber Players will bring du Bois’ work for chamber orchestra, Within Earth, Wood Grows, and đàn bầu (Vietnamese monochord instrument) to Texas for the Houston premiere. Award-winning đàn bầu musician Vanessa Võ and innovative woodwind ensemble WindSync will join Apollo as special guests. Apollo Chamber Players previously commissioned and premiered Alexandra du Bois’ fourth string quartet, Obala, in 2016.
Within Earth, Wood Grows (2010) for chamber orchestra and dan bau was commissioned by the Schoenberg Family Charitable Fund for Southwest Chamber Music in Los Angeles and the Ascending Dragon Music Festival. It premiered 19 March 2010 by Southwest Chamber Music at the Hanoi Opera House, Hanoi, Vietnam (World Premiere); Zipper Hall, Los Angeles, California (United States Premiere), Jeff von der Schmidt, conductor.
Commissioned to honor the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the city of Hanoi in 2010 (which was also the 15th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam), Within Earth, Wood Grows holds at its core these lines of poetry by Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926), the Vietnamese writer, teacher, poet, monk and peace activist:
My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up, and so the door of my heart can be left open, the door of compassion.