I enjoyed introducing my music to students and colleagues during my lecture recital at Hong Kong Baptist University on Friday. Part of our weekly colloquium series, the lecture recital featured performances of two older works of mine. immaus, for solo violin, was performed with passion and sensitivity by violinist Gary Ngan. It’s been great to hear so many unique interpretations of this work over the years since its premiere in 2004. The recital portion of the afternoon also featured Rise, for violin and piano, performed by Gary and pianist Kawai Chan. Once again, the performance was lyrical and dramatic.
Rise is perhaps the oldest of my works that I still allow to be performed, and I am pleased to find it standing up well with age. I wrote the work for my undergraduate violin recital at Eastman in 2003, and it is interesting for me to hear how some compositional ideas from way back when have developed through the intervening years. The work was inspired by the installation art of the extraordinary American visual artist, James Turrell.
The official title of my talk—Inspiration and Creativity in Composition—was bold and wide-ranging. But so is the work that composers undertake! I used the lecture portion of the colloquium to try and shed some light on the big questions composers face and which I’ve often asked myself: What inspires a composer? Where do musical ideas come from? What is the connection between the extra-musical and the musical in composition? It was great to have such an attentive audience for my mental musical musings!