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Narrative of Season 2018-2019

Updated: Aug 29, 2019



Shanghai Conservatory of Music

©️ Shanghai Conservatory of Music

Due to Typhoon Mangkhut hitting Hong Kong on 16th September 2019, the highly anticipated portrait concert of Korean composer Unsuk Chin - who would have been in residence for both concert and recording session in Hong Kong - was cancelled. However, the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, under the baton of Lio Kuokman, was honoured to launch its 11th season at the Shanghai New Music Week, presenting two concerts to full houses at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. The first concert was a diverse collection of works by Isang Yun, Qian Shenying, Toshio Hosokawa and the world premiere of Sonic Affairs by Hong Kong composer Chan Hing Yan. The closing concert of the entire festival was a concert portrait of Unsuk Chin, featuring Hong Kong soloists Colleen Lee (piano) and Sabrina Ma (percussion) in Chin's Double Concerto, and then closing the concert with Gougalon, a masterwork of contemporary ensemble writing, showcasing the Ensemble's virtuosity.



Peng Chau Island, Hong Kong

©Maximillian Cheng @Moon 9 Image

Our Audible City is an ongoing series proudly sponsored by The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation’s Arts: Transforming Hong Kong programme. Curator Charles Kwong writes:

“Our Audible City takes music out of the concert halls, and creates new musical experience that directly interferes and transforms the soundscape of the city. A series of specially curated performances and workshops provide a distinctive listening experience, exploring the relationship and connection between space and the people who inhabit it.”

Atlas is a set of compositions specifically created for various non-concert hall locations in the city, with the music of Charles Kwong specifically written for these sites and maps drawn by local visual artist Frank Tang. The unique character of each space becomes the integral part in the creation of each composition. The premiere took place in Tai Kwun earlier in 2019. On Peng Chau Island on 4 November 2019, there was a performance by four Chinese, Western and Indian instrumentalists on Tai Lei, a tiny island connected to Peng Chau, a small and peaceful outlying island of Hong Kong.

In addition to the performance programme, soundpocket was invited to be the Education Programme Partner for Our Audible City. Through various listening and creative exercises, participants explored different media and tools to collect sound at the unique sites during the performances of Atlas, and discover new experiences and an appreciation of site-specific performances.



Kwai Tsing Theatre Auditorium

The Hong Kong New Music Ensemble is a regular collaborator in the New Vision Arts Festival, and was pleased to collaborate in a stunning opera “Angel’s Bone” that was awared the Pulitzer Prize for Music several years ago. Shanghai-born composer Du Yun now lives in New York and is the first Chinese woman to receive the Pulitzer for music. Together with librettist Royce Vavrek, international and local musicians and vocalists, she combined opera, pop, chamber music, electronic rock, and cabaret into a searing multi-art performance, probing the twisted psyche of human traffickers.

This production will be repeated (with the same cast) at the Beijing Music Festival in October 2019.





Chinese Music Rediscovery was a musical event and one of three major parts of a non-profit community cultural event series, ESKYIU Decade Plus: Play Kits Exhibition held at Swire’s ArtisTree space in November 2018. The music event series advanced collaboration with leading Hong Kong architecture/ design firm ESKYIU, together with Singapore-based sound collective Soundislands (Joyce Beetuan Koh and PerMagnus Lindborg).

The live performance of Pieces of Eight – 八音 (the highlight performance of Chinese Music Rediscovery) unfolded over eight hours, at nine sites around Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. It featured eight musicians from the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble (HKNME), eight players from the HKU Percussion Ensemble and several teams of technicians.

Sets of new, re-invented musical instruments designed by ESKYIU were featured in the performance. The installation showcased eight electric neo-guqins in addition to eight percussion-hurdles built with materials that were conceptually linked to the remote sites. The HKNME musicians performed their given material four times, with subtle variations depending on what happens at the different locations. Remote location audio was streamed back to ArtisTree in real time. In the evening performance, there were up to 40 individual musical parts and 33 acoustic environments layered – a sonic canvas on the scale of a large orchestra.

This project was supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council’s Matching Fund Scheme 2018.

Making-of video:



SCAD Hong Kong

©Maximillian Cheng @Moon 9 Image

Composer Charles Kwong’s third work in the Atlas series transformed a former courtroom and custody suite into a sonic exploration of space. Formerly the North Kowloon Magistracy, today the historic building houses the Hong Kong campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design.



The University of Hong Kong

©Cheung Chi Wai @Moon 9 Image

The performance of Atlas 4 took place at The University of Hong Kong in two parts. In the first part, performers gathered in front of the Pillar of Shame at the Haking Wong Podium; part two took place inside the University Museum and Art Gallery. The same piece of music was performed in these two unrelated venues, in an attempt to explore our relationship with space and sound. Musicians from the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble were joined by the HKU Percussion Ensemble and a community percussion ensemble led by the Gip Percussion Ensemble, to conjure a transformative experience that opened up new perspectives about music and space.



Tung Lin Kok Yuen

©Cheung Chi Wai @Moon 9 Image

Atlas 5 took place at the majestically beautiful Tung Lin Kok Yuen. Founded in 1935, the monastery nowadays is one of the most important Buddhist landmarks in Hong Kong. Woven together in the music are the history, stories, ceremonies once held in the hall, and the architectural features of the monument. Atlas 5 was an immersive performance experience where music and space intertwine to create a compelling multi-sensory happening.



Multimedia Theatre, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong

©️ Maximillian Cheng @Moon 9 Image

In partnership with the School of Creative Media (City University of Hong Kong), in a programme curated by American composer Ken Ueno, the Ensemble welcomed pioneering Japanese sound artist Ikue Mori to collaborate with musicians from the HKNME and icons from the local improv scene.

(Side-by-Side project)



Vietnam National Academy of Music, Hanoi

©️ Hanoi New Music Ensemble

Percussionist Karina Yau represented the HKNME in Hanoi, Vietnam. Together with her duo partner Chronicle Li, she took part in the HKNME’s first artistic collaborations with the Hanoi New Music Ensemble, conducted by Grammy Award winning conductor Jeff Von Der Schmidt. This concert of three generations of Vietnamese new music featured the world premiere of METAL WATER FIRE, with poetry of Nguyen Duy and music of Vu Nhat Tan, bringing together Tran Thu Thuy with the Hanoi New Music Ensemble and the Ancient Music Group of Tonkin.



Black Box, Tongyeong Concert Hall (Tongyeong, South Korea)

The HKNME is a frequent visitor to Tongyeong, a fishing city on the far southern coast of South Korea. Home to one of Asia’s most distinguished music festivals in one of the best concert complexes of the region, the invitation came this time to give two concerts in its Black Box Theatre. The first concert was the “Asian Composers’ Showcase”, an annual platform for young Asian composers which is presented in partnership with the Goethe Institut Korea. The second concert featured top Korean soloists Yeree Suh (soprano) and YoonJeong Heo (geomungo) in works by Isang Yun, Toshio Hosokawa, Donald Reid Womack and Daniel Lo.



Recital Hall, Wei-wu-yin, National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

©️ National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts - Weiwuying

The HKNME performed in Taiwan for the very first time at the world-class National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts. Conductor Lin Liao, a renowned interpreter of contemporary music, led the HKNME for the first time in an exciting programme included George Benjamin's celebrated "At First Light" and new commissioned work "Poids" by Hong Kong composer Daniel Lo, that just received its world premiere at the Tongyeong International Music Festival in South Korea. The concert programme also included the Asian premiere of Australian composer Lisa Illean's award-winning "Cantor" and two works by Taiwanese composers of the younger generation Chia-Ying Lin and Liu Wei-Chih.



Haw Par Music Farm


A research workshop about traditional and contemporary performing arts, identity, multiply roots and getting lost between the two worlds. The workshop is part of the first phase of the project CON.TAIN, which will lead to a full production in Hong Kong in late 2020 and in Germany in 2021.

Participating artists: Folkert Uhde (artistic direction, Germany), Elisa Erkelenz (dramaturg, Germany), Simon James Phillips (composer, Germany/ Australia), Samson Young (composer, Hong Kong), Ensemble Resonanz (Germany).


2019 Worldwide CD Release

On her first CD for Vienna-based KAIROS Records - which also features a track featuring the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble - Nirmali Fenn often challenges performers to ‘see’ with their ears and construct spatial ‘views’ of their surroundings. Fenn believes that sound is one tool to give audiences the chance to experience vibrations in the volume of the space in which they exist.

Nirmali Fenn is a Sri Lankan-born Australian composer. She received her initial music education in Australia from the universities of New South Wales and Melbourne,. She later read music at Oxford University (UK) and has worked on the faculties of the University of Hong Kong, New York University, University of New South Wales and Yale-NUS College (Singapore).

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