Kuroshio Quartet: Joy Yang, Allen Wu, Jason Kinkelman, Michael Koerner. Image courtesy of the artists.
Nov 09, 2019 - 2
Lower Level, Auditorium (KAM 62)

Kuroshio Quartet draws from a rich current of creative practices for performances of multilayered channels of sound and image that explore and contemplate notions of Asian identity, culture and diasporic histories.

Based in Urbana-Champaign, IL, Kuroshio features Joy Yang (theremin, keyboards), Allen Wu (LinnStrument), Jason Finkelman (percussion, laptop electronics) and Michael Koerner (chemical visualizations), all improvising artists of Asian descent. Kuroshio’s Fall 2019 performances are meditations on the legacy of the use of nuclear weapons, directly addressing Koerner’s artistic expression as a surviving child of parents exposed to nuclear radiation at both Nagasaki and Castle Bravo testing.

The premiere performance of Kuroshio Quartet occurred in May 2019 at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center as part of Immersion Festival.  For this inaugural performance Putu Hiranmayena was featured on drums and Jegogan gamelan, along with Yang, Wu, and Finkelman.


About the Artists

Michael Koerner’s (Okinawa, Japan, 1963) artistic work is a combination of chemical sciences and personal history. As a Catherine Edelman Gallery artist, Koerner explores his family history and genetics through small tintypes, using photographic chemistry to assimilate the bursts and biochemical fallout from the atom bomb. His performance work in live chemistry draws viewers into a mix of hypnotic reactions and Japanese artifacts. Koerner has been a lecturer of organic chemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign since 2013.

Fulbright scholar, Shu-Cheng Allen Wu holds a DMA degree in music theory and composition from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign (UIUC). Allen’s research interests include contemporary music composition, electronic music, algorithmic music composition, programming, music information retrieval, and live coding. He also has experience in composing and producing music for animations, short films and games, and has conducted various ensembles including choirs, theater, chamber music, wind orchestra, and Chinese instrumentation.  In the Wu-Morse Duo, Allen developed his strategies for utilizing a LinnStrument controller with laptop electronics for improvisation. Allen was a full time assistant professor at the Asia-Pacific Institute of Creativity and a lecturer at Tamkang University and Chaoyang University of Technology where he taught electronic music engineering and composition, multimedia art, art history, creativity, aesthetics, film music production for non-music majors, and more. During his DMA studies, he taught music theory, aural skills and electroacoustic music techniques.

Joy Yang started playing the piano at the age of four in South Africa before moving to Sydney at the age of seven. She has performed at various venues including The Sydney Opera House, ABC, Intercontinental Hotel, P&O Cruise, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (Illinois, USA). Joy currently studies Classical Piano with Dr. Rochelle Sennet and Professor Chip Stephens at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA. She has studied piano with renowned artists such as Alister Spence, Satoko Fujii, Neta Maughan AM, Dimitrije Vasiljević (Serbia/USA), Christine Logan and Tamara-Anna Cislowska in the past. Joy is a pianist and composer in Valkyrie Trio, an all-female jazz trio.

Focus on cross-cultural, improvised music led percussionist Jason Finkelman to combine laptop electronics and acoustic instrumentation to create his distinct ambient, avant-world sound. A specialist on the single string musical bow berimbau, Finkelman is a Philadelphia-born percussionist who performs on African and Brazilian instruments handcrafted by Adimu Kuumba. His roots in improvised music stem from founding the trio Straylight in 1992, leading to collaborative performances in the late 90’s with a wide spectrum of artists including Pauline Oliveros, Steve Gorn, Joe McPhee, Brian Ritchie, and others in the Straylight Dialogues series at the Knitting Factory in New York City. Since arriving in Urbana-Champaign in 2000, Finkelman has continually performed with a host of genre-blurring improvisers from the area and beyond. As a composer for dance, Finkelman has over twenty-three years of collaboration with choreographer Cynthia Oliver on works including Tether (2019), Virago-Man Dem (2017-18), BOOM! (2014-15) and “Bessie” award winning performances SHEMAD (2000) and Death’s Door (1996). He has also collaborated and composed works for choreographers Renée Wadleigh, Kirstie Simson, Jessica Cornish, Nico Brown, Renée Archibald, Jessie Young, and Nickels Sunshine. At the University of Illinois, Finkelman directs Global Arts Performance Initiatives at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and leads the performance ensemble Improvisers Exchange for the School of Music, stemming from a two-year Center for Advanced Study initiative ending in May 2019. At Krannert Art Museum he currently organizes the Sudden Sound Concert Series. Kuroshio Quartet is his most recent project.