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Kamancheh player and composer Kayhan Kalhor rehearses his composition "Silent City"


Composer at Work
Kamancheh player and composer Kayhan Kalhor rehearses his composition Silent City with members of the Silk Road Ensemble and young musicians during a "Tradition and Innovation" commissioning workshop at Tanglewood in Massachusetts. Kalhor invited contributions from the performers by incorporating improvised sections into the final work.

Annual Yale Cellos Event © DAVID LAM

"As time went by, the last curtain of my graduate life at Yale University drew near. I could only explain my experience like going into a theatre in the middle of an old movie; it was not only the light contrast that I have to adjust to, but also the wrinkling of the movie screen, streets wavering back and forth, now warped, then caving in, blurring and doubled…I turned my back and prepared to head towards the exit, suddenly, at an impulse of a moment, images of the screen became explicit and clear. I sat down again and found myself in the screen, shopping around. I could even hear what the shopkeepers are selling.

I agree with what the modernists have said, extreme romanticism corrupts the soul, but a fool like me, stubborn as I am, refuses to let go of the audiences who fall into the palms of the commercial world. I decided to find my own solution. As a rationalist, I write stories for my music so that they recall lives, and arouse definitions.
Remember the girl yelling hysterically and calling her leader’s name at the People’s Square? Her mind had already left her body?  Remember the girl waiting anxiously for the finalist’s list of a popular song contest? She doesn’t know that the society she lives in is conducted by reasoning?

Here I am, the founder and guardian of a new form of music, higher definition performing arts."

Spring 2010

Angel Lam

Composer (Hong Kong) Angel Lam is a pioneering artist who uses the beauty of soundscape, instrumentation and language to express refined emotions and her passion for life. Her music has been praised for its "rich, singing tone and sense of drama" (New York Times), and "unually affecting...filled with luxuriant chords, tender string songs and sensuous glissandos" (Twin Cities Pioneer Press). The Financial Times called Lam a "dazzlingly gifted young composer."

Miss Lam's compositions blend evocative expressiveness and East Asian sensitivity and femininity. Her music ranges from the delicate depiction of a drop of water for unconventional instrumentation—guitar, harp, vibraphone, crotales and double bass—to tales of a forgotten hero (for narration and orchestra) and an age of darkness when emperors committed acts of evil that to this day haven't been confronted by any serious criticism. Her music reflects not only her own life but also a concern with the interference of time and space in an uncertain, timeless manner. Her firework festivals in In Search of Seasons (for orchestra) or the mysteries of life and death in Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain (for shakuhachi, violin, cello, double bass and percussion) are real and alive. She writes her own short stories, an inseparable component of her creative process.

In 2010, she was interviewed and featured on Best Buy Inc.'s "Creative Minds," which filmed her In Search of Seasons performed by the Minnesota Orchestra. In 2009, she was voted Artists of the Month by Musical America and Yalie of the Week by Yale Alumni Magazine.

Her compositions have been performed throughout the United States and in many major cities around the world. She has received three Carnegie Hall commissions, two as emerging composer and recently a large concerto commission dedicated to solo cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Hall's China Festival "Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture." Her recent collaborations include the annual Yale Cellos event directed by Aldo Parisot, Yale Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Minnesota Orchestra Inside the Classics Series (2010) and Composers Institute (2009), Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Earshot, Hong Kong Arts Festival 2010, among others.

Miss Lam first received a Carnegie Hall commission in 2005-2006, working with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, then again in 2006-2007, when she worked with Grammy Award-winning composer Osvaldo Golijov and renowned soprano Dawn Upshaw. The Silk Road Ensemble has performed her composition Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain throughout the United States and in Britain, Canada, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and at Switzerland's Lucerne Festival. This work was released by Sony/BMG with the Ensemble's CD New Impossibilities in 2007 and recorded again on the Silk Road Ensemble's newest CD Off the Map in 2009.

Her other commissions and performances include Greenwich Village Orchestra (New York), NYU Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Grainger Quartet (Australia), Orange County Women's Chorus (Los Angeles), Houston Chamber Choir, Loyola High Men's Chorus and Orchestra (Los Angeles), Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest (Chicago), and a theater composition created in collaboration with renowned theater artist Martha Clarke and Peabody Dance director Carol Bartlett.

Miss Lam grew up in Hong Kong and the United States. She is a doctoral candidate at the distinguished Peabody Conservatory and a recipient of a full scholarship artist diploma from Yale University. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Hong Kong Jockey Club Music and Dance Fund Scholarship, Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong Scholarship for Overseas Studies, and Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University full scholarship.

Artist website