Welcome to another installment of New Music Monday, where I feature pieces by living composers that you might not have heard of yet. This week’s featured composer is Hong-Da Chin.
Originally from Kajang, Malaysia, Chin has spent a significant amount of time the United States, completing degrees at Del Mar College (Corpus Christi, TX), the University of Houston, the University of Louisville, and Bowling Green State University. In addition to composing, he is also an active performer on flute and Chinese flute. In Fall 2018, Chin will be joining the faculty at Western Illinois University, serving as Assistant Professor in Music Theory/Composition.
The piece I am featuring today is called Snowflakes. The orchestral work is an expansion upon an earlier piece for piano trio, Snowflake. The original piano trio was composed in 2013 in collaboration with Caroline Calouche, a Charlotte-based dancer and choreographer. While the similarity of the materials between the two versions is perceptible, Snowflakes feels like an entirely separate work through of combination of the larger performing forces, and the reworking of the material necessary to expand the piece length by about three minutes. I very much enjoyed what Chin describes as the “icy atmosphere” of the work, particularly in the beginning with the focus on higher registers, the metallophone & plucked string articulations, and the musical spaces that allowed the sustain & long decays to ring through. There is a definite sense of fragility evoked that fits well into the imagery of ice and snowflakes. I have included a SoundCloud streaming player below with a recording of Snowflakes, as well as an embedded YouTube video with the original performance of Snowflake with piano trio and dance. Snowflakes has also been read by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and a recording is available on Chin’s website. As always, be sure to check out the links at the bottom of the page for more information on Hong-Da Chin.