Narong Prangcharoen (b.1973)

The music of Thai composer Narong Prangcharoen has been called “absolutely captivating” by the Chicago Sun-Times, and he has established an international reputation as a leading composer of his generation. He has received many international prizes including the 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, the Alexander Zemlinsky International Composition Competition Prize, and the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award. In 2007, the Thai government named Prangcharoen a Contemporary National Artist, presenting him with the Silapathorn Award, one of Thailand’s most prestigious honors. Prangcharoen’s music has been performed around the world by the Baltimore Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, the China Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra, and the Melbourne Symphony, among others. Additionally, his music has been presented by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the New York New Music Ensemble, and Imani Winds. Prangcharoen received his doctorate of musical arts degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), where he studied with Chen Yi, Zhou Long, James Mobberley, and Paul Rudy. He is currently on the faculty of the Community Music and Dance Academy of the Conservatory of Music at UMKC. He also founded the Thailand Composition Festival in Bangkok, now in its tenth year, and has been awarded a Music Alive composer residence with the Pacific Symphony for the 2013–16 seasons. In 2014, Prangcharoen was the recipient of the prestigious Barlow Prize for Music Composition at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The resulting commissioned work is Lokattura, premiered by the US Marine Band.

The composer provides the following program notes:

Lokuttara means ultramundane. It is the power that enables the mind to transcend beyond the world, or beyond the limits of our system. This piece is mainly focusing on the texture and timbre inspired by chanting or praying. For example, the texture of this piece is imitating the rhythm of speech or the singing of words or sounds, called “reciting tones,” as in a chant or prayer. The timbre enlightens the listener to the sound and atmosphere beyond the material world, echoing the transcendence of Tibetan monk chants. The direction of the lines are mainly focused on the departure from a low register to a high register as if the mind transcends from the physical world to the world beyond our system. The thematic and harmonic materials are controlled by the set of pitches which function as the main material for the entire piece. Lokuttara consists of three main sections divided fast—slow—fast. Although the material is from the same pitch collection, the music in each section transforms into many different forms.