nakuniku (2017)

Commission: Harold Rosenbaum / New York Virtuoso Singers

Instrumentation: 16-voice acapella choir (SSSSAAAATTTTBBBB)

Duration: 6 minutes

Program Information:
nakuniku was the name my late grandfather called me by when I was a baby. He also repeated the word nakuniku in an exaggerated (and tonal) manner when playing with all his other grandchildren. This word brings me back to the fond times of my childhood. The text in nakuniku is a mishmash of an excerpt from a famous Teochew lullaby, made-up text and words my grandmother often (and still) say to me.

ong ah ong, ong ghim kong (唪呀唪,唪金公 || Rock my golden master)
ghim kong kia, zo lao thia (金公做老爹 || Golden master grows to be a man of stature)
a bun a bu lai ta hia (阿文阿武來擔靴 || Servants will help you wear your boots)
ta hia ta pu pu (擔靴擔唔浮 || Wear your boots, lifted high)


nakuniku naraku
nakuniku dominadu
hoseh niku


“lè sǐ zā bòu (You are a girl)
zá bóu kiǎ diǒ ǒr zá bóu kiǎ gǎi kuàng (Girls must learn to be feminine)
zór wǔ zǒr kuàng (Sit like a girl)
jiàk wǔ jiǎk kuàng (Eat like a girl)
ǒr liò duǎ liò jià wǔ nǎng siǒ” (When you do so, then someone will love you)

Premiere: May 2017 | New York Virtuoso Singers | New York NY

Performance: June 2 2017 | New York Virtuoso Singers | New York NY
August 23 2019 | SYC Ensemble Singers | Singapore

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