March 25, 2015

Chinese Music Virtuosi in Honolulu

Just recently the UH Music Composition program, in partnership with the East-West Center, hosted the Chinese Music Virtuosi. CMV is a group from Hong Kong made up of 6 instruments: sheng (mouth organ), erhu (fiddle), yangqin (hammered zither), pipa (lute), dizi (flute) and guzheng (plucked zither). Four of the ensemble’s members made the trip to Honolulu, joining local musicians Frederick Lau and Yi-Chieh Lai on stage for the various events.

The week-long residency was filled with events for UH composition students as well as educational events for children around the community. More information about the visit can be found here.

I conducted the group in the premiere of three pieces, one by Ng King Pan, another by Takuma Itoh and one of my own. (Hawaii composer Donald Reid Womack also had a trio on the concert that didn’t require conductor.) First rehearsals are always the same for me. I write music I envision sounding perfect on the instruments and then inevitably discover that not everything sounds the way I’d hoped. I imagine it’s this way for all composers. But this is even more common when writing for non-Western instruments, and each piece I write for Asian instruments tends to go through a few generations before it’s finalized. The CMV musicians were very accommodating of all the changes I made in rehearsals, and it turned out to be a great concert of new and traditional music.

Below are some photos from the visit.

1 Response to “Chinese Music Virtuosi in Honolulu”

  • Drew Harrison January 12, 2016 at 12:40 am Reply

    That is really cool that these instruments have different names in Chinese and English. Based on what I’m seeing in the pictures, they look completely different, but it seems like the naming scheme is more of a convention for certain types of instruments. Whatever the case is with names, I would absolutely love to go and hear these great musicians play for an audience. Thanks for making me aware of this Asian music group!

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