With 2019 just around the corner, I am very much looking forward to the new year. I’m also looking forward to the new semester at HKBU and especially to welcoming the fantastic American composer, George Tsontakis, as our Kennedy Wong Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Music for the spring term. George is the first faculty in the Arts to hold this esteemed professorship. I’m very happy to have “convinced” him to work with us!
George and I met in the summer of 2013 when I was a Composition Fellow at the Aspen Festival. Working with him, my late teacher, Steven Stucky, and a number of prominent guest composers, including Stephen Hartke and members of the “Class of ‘38” (John Corigliano, Joan Tower, John Harbison) was an incredible musical and personal experience. We’ve kept in touch since then, and I have learned a lot about music and the musical life from our conversations. In a field where one frequently encounters bitterness, George is a positive-thinking, forward-driving presence. Oh, and he also writes excellent—dramatic, expressive, memorable—music!
At HKBU George will teach a special topics course, work with composition students, and be part of an international conference I’m organizing, The Keyboard in the 21st Century. His work will also be featured as part of the Beare’s Premiere Music Festival in January. With so much going on, I am hoping he has time to explore Hong Kong, both its travel guide highlights and the spots that only I (and, admittedly, a couple thousand other people) know. A happy new year indeed!