Orchestral Piece for a New Era

Music, Music works

Now with one year past I think I dare to post this here. It was a remarkable experience which I don’t even know if there will be a repeat or anything that comes close. Again I could only say wherever my encounters take me.

The minimalism is explicit; this has been pointed out by my friends (search for the finale of Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Symphony No. 2; there’s no more definite inspiration than this).

It’s now very clear that, even if I am to carry on composing, I’m not giving up tonality any time soon.

Composition project – Kowloon Rhapsody

Music works, Performance

Almost a month passed before I am writing a post on this event i.e. the composition project performance on 30 April. The ensemble-in-residence of the CUHK Music composition project this year (i.e. the ensemble that will perform submissions) is Jenga, a Hong Kong percussion quartet. Having written the Kowloon Rhapsody as assignment work last semester, it was just natural that I submitted it.

Kowloon Rhapsody was originally the title of a percussion concerto I wanted to write, but I was so unfamiliar with percussion stuff so I’d just shelved it. But the percussion composition project pushed me into writing something for percussion, and not willing to waste the idea, I picked it up again.

The writing of the piece was indeed inspired by the hustle and bustle of Kowloon, though even more exhilarating and dynamic elements such as the former Kai Tak Airport also have to play. These are interspersed with tales, origins and mysticism of of the area e.g. the nine dragons, the names of the hills (Lion Rock…) etc.

It’s so exciting to be able to hear the music one writes himself, live. And the performance went surprisingly well. The unwritten cadenzas were also well done by the percussionists.

Ask me personally for the recording.

Next post will probably be about the HKOC Night-O on 17 May, for which I took part in course setting.


October and November

Music works, Orienteering, Performance, Sport

I apologize for not being able to type any posts for almost a quarter of a year – was too busy struggling with coursework (I am taking one architecture and one urban studies course this semester in addition to my major courses and one logic course).

October brings in the “weekly orienteering” routine, in which all Sundays and holidays are reserved for orienteering (race, training, other official business).

1 Oct (National Day) – training, 6 and 13 – level 3 orienteering course (have to miss out training because of that), 20 – sprint race in the “wild”, 27 – sprint relay near Tiu Keng Leng (Tseung Kwan O)…

My running training routine seems to have overstrained me, and the race on the 20th turned out to be a “fiasco” – I was almost sick, I couldn’t think properly, I ended up missing one control and thus DNF.


Had I not missed the control, I would have won the M21 class with a 3 minute margin. No use crying over spilt milk.

What is true though, is that the terrain is fun enough: with areas of abandoned fields, with rivers, with shallow water with stone bed to run over (!!!)

27th October – sprint orienteering relay event followed by MYO concert. The map of the sprint relay event is shown below with my route. It took place at the foothills of Black Hill on the Tiu Keng Leng (Tseung Kwan O) side.


A nice, challenging race making good use of the stairs-and-terraces grid on retaining walls – tricky enough to slow me down though headache is another influencing factor. After the race I took a taxi from Haven of Hope Hospital nearby to the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui (around HK$90-something). The MYO concert featured “Austro-Hungarian music” – music by composers such as Liszt and Brahms.

3rd November – orienteering ranking event at Ngong Ping on Lantau. Did a lot of mental training during the week before to welcome the return of the middle-distance event season. I took the ferry to Mui Wo, breakfast’d there and took the bus to enjoy peace and quiet. To my surprise, I won in the M21 category with a margin of around 20 minutes. Jogged down to Tung Chung after the race.


10th November – Colour-coded event in Tsing Yi for qualification in the Annual Championships long-distance event. Bad mental condition, serious mistakes committed though pulled myself well enough at the later part of the race, and the result was not too bad. (In the end the Orienteering Association decided to let everyone who had started in the qualification category into the championships due to mishap in control placing)


17th November was the day for the universities cross-country race. Originally I didn’t plan to join that since I wanted to take part in the Oxfam Trailwaker again, but I failed the “lucky draw”. So I returned to the university team and ran the race a second time (the first time was in my freshman year). Got 25th place and a small improvement in time since last time. (team results: 4th for boys, 4th for girls and 3rd overall)

24th November – orienteering ranking event in Kam Shan (Golden Hill, renowned for wild monkeys). Won in M21 again though some mistakes were committed and the margin was much smaller. (This venue meant running, running and running – but the reservoir scenery was very rewarding.


The annual Bauhinia Concert was held on 26th November which signified my third year in a row taking part in this composition concert. My work premiered was the second movement from my not-yet-complete string quartet (1st – that the programme booklet said 2nd is a typo on the organizer’s part).

Now came December and its first orienteering event – the sprint orienteering relay event postponed from September. One of my teammates took a disproportionately long time – I had to mass-start with just one other competitor who happened to be a good friend of mine in secondary school. Satisfied with my own performance – good running on paved roads though the soil slopes near the finish are a bit too steep.


I still have an architectural history paper and a composition project to go – though not so rush as plenty of time was given before the deadlines. There will be the usual “Christmas orienteering” to the end of this month i.e. the annual championships in orienteering – I hope the cold weather won’t cause me to commit silly mistakes.

Composition concert – done!

Music works, Performance

After all the hard work, the composition concert is finally done on Saturday evening – an oestensible mission impossible made possible!

The flute sonata is (understandably) the best done, the flute concerto with flaws but still splendidly presented. Much nervousness was endured during the violin concerto but it got through successfully without break.

Many thanks to all who came and supported me (and those who couldn’t come but supported me mentally). Many many many thanks to Pierre and Raymond – especially the latter whom my violin concerto has much tortured! 😛

Composition course project: Breaking the Mist

Music works, Performance

As part of the project for the Composition (I) course, a performance of each student’s composition coursework is made today (9 April). My work is titled Breaking the Mist written for a string quintet of 2 violins, 2 violas and 1 cello. The parts are performed by Camille Poon, Paul Koo, Chan Wai-Bun, Clara Lok (first 4 from Music Dept.) and Jonathan Cheng (WYHK) respectively.

I had originally planned to write a string quartet for the course project, which would double as a finale for my planned string quartet. But then I thought of a scale formed of alternating pitch intervals of ‘2’s and ‘3’s (major 2nd and minor 3rd respectively), which is basically derived from the pentatonic scale (the “anhemitonic” one). I based the work on this derived scale, resulting in a rather atonal sound, interlaced with sections of more diatonicism.

Two rehearsals were done, the first on Sunday evening (after I had the “To The Top” race) and the second today just before the concert. Some minor mistakes were still made, but it went through and the sound effect was great.

Rising Sun

Music works

This is the work, written for standard woodwind quintet (flute/oboe/clarinet/horn/bassoon) I submitted for the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival composition class.

Since I plan to incorporate it into a larger woodwind quintet work so it is not given opus number at the meantime.

Hong Kong Schools Music Festival (N848)

Music works, Performance

Tonight I presented the finale of my flute concerto (together with Nielsen’s concerto and C.P.E. Bach’s solo sonata in a minor) in the Music Festival. Didn’t get into the finals, but got a good result nonetheless.

Must thank my accompanist Pierre Tang: I have meager experience in making a piano reduction so I made a really difficult one!

N.B. The full title of class N848 is “Parsons Music Scholarship for Wind, Brass and Percussion Instruments”. I also have N872 (“Original Composition”) on the 19th of March.

New work: Rhapsody on School Songs in Hong Kong, Op. 21

Music works

Another work done: this time a jolly medley-rhapsody on a bunch of school songs in Hong Kong. It started off as an attempt (in 2008 or 2009) to write an overture in anticipation of Wah Yan’s 90th anniversary, but it was never completed beyond the point of quoting the WYHK school song. Then later (after I got into university in 2011) I often imagined an exuberant arrangement of Queen’s College’s school song. In July this year I started to expand the idea into a full piece, quoting quite a number of school songs/hymns. Finally I completed this yesterday (15 Dec 2012).

No hidden meanings in this piece – except at one point. Try to find that out (clue: the two school songs fight against each other).

School songs included (not exhaustive and not necessarily in order):
-Wah Yan College, HK (depicted in pic)
-Wah Yan College, Kowloon
-Diocesan Boys School
-Diocesan Girls School
-King’s College
-La Salle College
-Ying Wa College
-Belilios Girls School
-Good Hope School
-True Light Girls’ College
-Pui Ching Middle School
-St. Paul’s College
-St. Paul’s Convent School
-St. Stephen Girl’s College
-Sacred Heart Canossian College
-St. Joseph’s College
-school hymn for most Sheng Kung Hui secondary schools
-school song for Tung Wah Group of Hospitals schools
-Queen’s College / Heep Yunn School (same melody)
-CUHK Chung Chi College / Lingnan schools (same melody)