Program Notes by the composer
Outside the window,
an endless field of silence.
Ice locks a thousand miles.
I wait next to a fire, carelessly, my mind starts to wander…
The night is sinking, deep.
The last snowstorm,
the sky is now visible with puffy white clouds.
Snow settles at my doorstep,
can’t stop the arrival of spring.
On the streets of this ancient nomad land,
children wrapped in layered wool and silk coats
finally reveal their delicate faces,
and chapped bright rose cheeks.
Young girls run outside into the sunlit fields,
can’t wait to change into colorful dresses.
Spring wraps their bodies like silk,
and their hair waving in the wind…
Against the warm breeze,
twirl to its rhythm…
don’t be afraid.
Dr. Angel Lam is a GRAMMY-nominated composer who uses the beauty of sounds, songs, instrumentation, and written language to express detailed emotions and her passion for life. She tells intimate stories about life and death, growing up, inspirations and relationships. Her compositions are praised as “Timeless” (by Carnegie Hall), “Precious, soaring lyrical lines” (Metropolitan Opera, Opera News), and “both poignant and important.” (Yo-Yo Ma)
Her work combines evocative songs, deeply felt, hidden memories, an exploration of human experiences, and her immersed sensitivity to spirituality. She writes short stories for her compositions, which are an inseparable component of her creative process.
Previously she was honored to receive three New York Carnegie Hall commissions before the age of 29, including a cello concerto dedicated to Yo-Yo Ma and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Spano. She also wrote a classical crossover piece for Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. They toured the work for many years worldwide at numerous prestigious venues, including Lucerne Festival in Switzerland and the Royal Albert Hall in London. This year she is a composer-in-residence at Yale University Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, where she is commissioned by the Musical Bridge Project to write a new work for superstar pipa virtuoso Wu Man 吴蛮 and artistic director Melvin Chen at their festival opening concert. Most recently, she produced, composed and curated a concert program at Merkin Hall of Kaufman Music Center— “Hong Kong Journeys”, co-presented by the 25th anniversary of the city of Hong Kong SAR and HKETO NY.
She is one of America’s foremost young female composers selected under the League of American Orchestras and Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. In the 2023-24 season, she is commissioned to write a new work to be performed by five professional American orchestras: Utah Symphony and Opera, Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, with the premiere conducted by Michael Stern at Kansas City Symphony, with additional performance by Orchestra Lumos. Most recently, she is a recipient of Opera America’s Discovery Grant Award to write and develop her new musical opera in New York City. This past year she was the composer-in-residence at the chamber music series Concert on the Slope at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope, NYC, and is elected as a member of their board of trustees.
Between 2017-2021, her works have been performed and recorded in fifty different cities worldwide by multiple ensembles and touring groups, including Music at Copland House Ensemble (U.S. tour), Guitar Foundation of America (worldwide recordings and performances), Hub New Music Ensemble (U.S. tour and recording), Asia America New Music Institute (Japan tour), Sulzbach-Rosenberg International Music Festival at the Konzertsaal des Rathauses, Bavaria, Germany, New Music for Strings Iceland Festival, in Reykjavik, Iceland, Radio Television Hong Kong (film recording), Music at Mānoa at Mae Zenke Orvis Auditorium, Hawaii, Little Universe Theatre in Shandong, China, and Hong Kong West Kowloon Cultural District Mixtape Volume 2 album recording.
The Guitar Foundation of America recently commissioned her to write the solo guitar work, “Little snow.” It was published in GFA’s Spotlight Series Volume I. It was premiered by GFA international mentee Jitsupa Petchmark in Thailand and selected as an official repertoire piece for the Semifinals round of the prestigious International Concert Artists Competition. The competition took place in Brussels, Belgium, and Los Angeles. The first prize winner, Bokyung Byun, recorded “Little snow” with Naxos Records, the album was released in summer 2022.
The Aaron Copland Music at Copland House Ensemble toured her commissioned work in the U.S. east coast and west coast. It also received a featured performance at the Copland House Foundation’s New York City Gala in 2019. In the summer of 2018, two of her compositions toured seven Japanese cities with Asia America New Music Institute (AANMI). Kyoto mayor Daisaku Kadokawa hosted our opening concert at Kyoto’s Nijojo Castle. The final concert of the Japan tour was at Tokyo’s prestigious Suntory Hall, sponsored by the United States Embassy.
She was commissioned by Carnegie Hall’s festival “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices” and another Carnegie Hall commission was released by Sony/BMG on Silk Road Ensemble’s CD “New Impossibilities” as an exclusive bonus and recorded again as one of four featured composers on the GRAMMY® -nominated album “Off the Map,” in the Classical Crossover Album category.
She was voted “Artist of the Month” by Musical America, “Yalie of the Week” by Yale University Yale Alumni Magazine, and a featured artist on Best Buy Inc.’s “Creative Minds” with the Minnesota Orchestra performing her orchestral work “In Search of Seasons,” conducted by Osmo Vanska.
As composer, librettist, and artistic director, she premiered her full-length musical “June Lovers,” commissioned by the international Hong Kong Arts Festival on their 40th-anniversary celebration. She is honored to receive the Hong Kong Arts Development Council Literary Award to develop and publish her literary works. Her previous works have been read in public readings and are in development with New York Off-Broadway theater Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, The Playwrights Group, and Chelsea Repertory Theatre. She received six semi-staged performances at Theatre Row in Manhattan, and her theatre works were also performed at Museum of Chinese American (MOCA) New York, Here Arts Centre, The Tank, The China Institute of New York, National Sawdust Theater in Brooklyn, and Flushing Town Hall in Queens. She was the composer for the Off-Broadway production of “A Dream of Red Pavilions,” which received 40 performances at Theatre Row in NYC. Her theatre and writing mentors include Martha Clarke, playwrights Jeremy Karekan (Broadway “Lifespan of a Fact”), Arlene Hutton (Barrow Group), Richard Caliban (Gotham Writers), and director/actor Ernest Abuba (Obie Award winner.)
She has written for both film and dance. She was commissioned to write an album of music for the London/UK film, media and music licensing company Audio Network, the album has been licensed worldwide. She co-created a short film of her own original story and music, “Color of the Mind,” with award-winning director Mida Chu (Interlochen alumni) and performed/ commissioned by the Interlochen Center for the Arts Symphonic Band. It was an official selection at the Monarch International Film Festival, Monterey Bay, California. For dance she wrote a piece for the centennial celebration of the Peabody Dance Institute and another for the 30th-anniversary of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in collaboration with the School of Contemporary Dance and Chinese Dance.
More performance groups
Her music are also performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, Yale Philharmonia, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, New York Greenwich Village Orchestra, New York University Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Northwest Symphony, Oak Park and River Forest Symphony Orchestra, University of California Irvine Symphony Orchestra, Yale Cellos under the direction of Aldo Parisot, Aspen Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, Yale Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Kings Harmonica Quintet, Orange County Women’s Chorus, Los Angeles Loyola High Men’s Chorus, among others. Her awards include five ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, Macdowell Colony Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow Award, two NACUSA Young Composer Awards, and Audience Prize at the Seoul International Competition for Composers.
Living in New York
She is a partnering teaching artist of Steinway and Sons in New York, where she has a studio of music composition, theory, and piano performance students. She presents an annual concert recital at Steinway Hall sponsored by Steinway and Sons of New York. When not doing creative work, she is a staff writer critic writing critical reviews for the theater review organization Theasy.com. She is honored to be selected as a member of the Distinguished Artist Council of the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and a board member of Concerts on the Slope Chamber Music series at St. John’s Episcopal church in Park Slope. She lives in NYC with her husband and two children.
Lam received her doctorate from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, her Bachelor’s degree with honours from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and is the recipient of the Henry and Lucy Moses full scholarship Artist diploma from Yale University, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Music and Dance Fund Overseas full Scholarship. As a child, she attended Hong Kong Pui Ching Primary School 香港培正學校. (http://angellam.com/) (April 2023)