“IIIZ+ takes us on an astonishing journey searching for an artistic vocabulary common to China, Japan, Korea, and the West. The listening traveller, whatever his origin, is moved by the delicate, flowing virtuosic playing, smoothly moving from age-old traditions to sensitive modernity.”
— Benoit Thiebergien, Director, 38e Rugissants, Grenoble

Yi-Chieh Lai
Jocelyn Clark
Ryuko Mizutani
Il-Ryun Chung

“. . . As soon as the first, the Chinese musician, touched the strings of the zheng, the public held its breath. The magic continued when the second, Korean, pinched and flicked the strings of the kayagûm, then the third, the Japanese woman, scraped the stings of the koto. In the space of a few minutes, three instruments, almost similar in their forms, revealed the heart of three close, but deeply different cultures. . .”
— Cherif Khaznadar, Director, Maison des Cultures Du Monde, Paris

IIIZ+: Officially formed in Darmstadt, Germany in 2001, IIIZ+ ("three zee plus," in English), a quartet born out of musical interests and experiences of Jocelyn Clark, and nurtured with Il-Ryun Chung's artistic input, features a unique combination of the three bridged east Asian zithers: Korean kayagûm, Japanese koto, and Chinese zheng--"plus" Korean percussion.

Increasingly known for performances that defy the conventional boundaries of their instruments,
IIIZ+ continues to break new ground, offering surprising insights into musical and cultural interactions between China, Korea, and Japan in the context of America and Europe (indeed each player —originally from Alaska, Japan, Taiwan, and Germany respectively — speaks with a different native tongue). IIIZ+'s focus on the large-bridged zither instrument family brings into sharp relief both the archetypical similarities and differences among East Asia's individual living music traditions .

More than an "East-meets-West" experiment, the ensemble's complex, organic sound flows together onto an estuarial musical floodplain -- like the  Arctic Chukchi Borderland, or the dramatic Drake Passage, where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans flow into each other. In the marine world, the merging of the two oceans creates a ring of aquatic energy, which turns into the world's largest ocean current. Similarly, in
IIIZ+ musical and cultural elements in Asian and Western musics and cultures embodied in each of the ensemble's players flow naturally into each other to create a potent, vivid, entirely new transnational sound -- a "sea change" in traditional notions of  "chamber," "world," or "new" music that reverberates beyond any given performance.

IIIZ+ has been featured in festivals such as Musica Vitale in Berlin (Germany), Le Festival de l'Imaginaire at the Maison des Cultures du Monde in Paris (France), and at 38e Rugissants in Grenoble (France). The ensemble has toured Toulouse (France), Utrecht (The Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium), Nürnberg (Germany), Darmstadt (Germany), New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Berea (KY), and Middletown (CT) in the US. Recent grants include a Commissioning Music/USA grant from Meet the Composer for a new work from Chinese-American composer Fred Ho, and a Chamber Music America Residency Grant to work at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

IIIZ+ 2006 Member Bios:

Jocelyn Clark - (kayagûm/founder/executive director) - grew up in Juneau, Alaska playing the piano, clarinet, and oboe. After a year in Japan, she started studying the koto at age 18 with the Sawai Koto Academy under Yagi Michiyo, and later Maruta Miki at Wesleyan University (CT). In 1990-1 she studied zheng at the Nanjing Academy of Arts in China, and then in New York with master Wang Changyuan. From 1992 to 1994 she received a scholarship to study traditional Korean music majoring in kayagûm performance at the National Classical Music Institute in Seoul, Korea where she studied in the beginning with YI Jiyeong, and then with JI Aeri and “National Intangible Human Cultural Asset” KANG Jeongsuk. She returned to Korea in 1995 on a grant from the Harvard Korea Institute, and again between 1999 and 2001 on consecutive Fulbright and Seonam Foundation Fellowships. Having premiered more than 20 new works for kayagûm (and koto), she has appeared as a soloist at the Jeonju Sanjo Festival, Opera Latenight in Nürnberg, the Global Ear Series in Dresden to name a few. She is the co-founder and co-director of the new music festival, CrossSound, in Alaska with composer Stefan Hakenberg, and, after fits and starts, she also founded IIIZ+ in 2001 with Il-Ryun Chung. Her writing on the kayagûm appears in the liner notes of Dr. Hwang Byung-Ki's 2001 re-release box set in English, Korean, Japanese, and French. She has a 2005 Ph. D. from Harvard University in East Asian Languages and Civilizations where she wrote on Kayagûm Pyôngch'ang.

Il-Ryun Chung - (Korean percussion/co-founder/music director) was born in Frankfurt/M. Germany in 1964 to a prominent Korean physicist. In 1967 he moved to Seoul, Korea, returning to Germany in 1971. At the age of 16, Chung taught himself to play the guitar, taking it up formally in 1984 in Berlin under Carlo Domeniconi, with whom he also studied composition. In 1994, he was awarded at the Berlin Festival for Guitar and Chamber Music, for his composition Movement in Circles II for flute and guitar. Chung completed his studies in composition at the Berlin Music Academy in 1995 with Prof. Jolyon Brettingham-Smith. An encounter with the Korean master drummer Kim Duk-Soo made a lasting impression upon Chung's rhythmic perception. In 2000-2001 he wrote a concerto for SamulNori and Orchestra and co-founded IIIZ+ with Jocelyn Clark. In 2003, he composed a new work for IIIZ+ called Bendings that includes a variety of Korean percussion instruments and rhythms. A three-time recipient of the Berlin Senate's commissioning grant, Chung places the highest technical demands upon musicians, while at the same time paying close attention to idiomatic instrumental writing. Working both on the creative and interpretive ends, Chung also emphasizes the importance of the collaboration between composer and performer in his music.

Ryuko MIZUTANI — (koto) — grew up in Japan and now lives in Rochester, NY. She graduated from the NHK (Japanese National Broadcasting Company) School for Performers of Traditional Japanese Instruments and since 1987 has studied both classical and modern koto music under koto masters Kazue and the late Tadao SAWAI. As a member of the Kazue Sawai Koto Ensemble, Ryuko performed in Europe, South Asia, and the US in such festivals as "Bang on a Can" (NYC). Interested in improvisational and experimental musics, in 1999 she received a fellowship from the Japanese Government Overseas Study program for Artists to study jazz and new music with Anthony Braxton and Alvin Lucier at Wesleyan University (CT). Ryuko explores new musical possibilities for the koto by collaborating with composers, musicians, and artists from traditions around the world and regularly commissioning new works. She performs and teaches both in Japan and the United States.

Yi-Chieh LAI — (zheng) — grew up in Taiwan playing piano from a young age. At the age of 12, she started studying zheng under I-Yü Ch'en and Hwei-Mei Lin. From 1998 to 2002, she studied with Jui-Yü Wang and Li-Ch'iung Chang at the National Taiwan University of Arts from which she received her bachelor degree. She also spent time in Mainland China studying zheng with Wang Zhou (Beijing), Ningxin Rao (Guangdong) and Manqin Zhao (Henan). Lai has devoted herself to both traditional and contemporary music as a soloist and as a member of the China Found Music Workshop (2002-2005), working with composers to expand the zheng repertoire and techniques. In recent years, Lai has pursued a graduate degree in musicology at the Taipei National University of the Arts. She is a member of the Han Music Research Association, Guangdong, the International Council for Traditional Music, and the Society for Ethnomusicology, R.O.C.