Fung LAM: “Monologue V” for solo violin (2019)

(Commissioned by violinist Patrick T.S. Yim)


November 8, 2019 at Nostalgia: Violin Recital by Patrick Yim at Academic Community Hall, Hong Kong Baptist University (World Premiere Performance)

January 13, 2020: Solo Violin Recital at Mae Zenke Orvis Auditorium, Honolulu, HI, USA. Organized by Music at Mānoa​. Sponsored by Lion Strings Hong Kong and Ebb and Flow Arts Hawaii.

PROGRAMME NOTES by the composer

While my orchestral compositions have become the backbone of my composition career, I feel that my solo/chamber works often showcase the more intimate and reflective side of my output.  This work is the fifth and latest in my Monologue series, which began 20 years ago.

Monologue V may be perceived that the “person”, in a pensive and thought mood, is questioning and answering him/herself in this Monologue…, or juggling between two opposing scenarios/options.

About Fung LAM

Born in Hong Kong in 1979, Fung Lam studied composition with Martin Butler, Michael Finnissy and Michael Zev Gordon at the Universities of Southampton and Sussex, and was awarded a DPhil in composition from the latter in 2012. Currently dividing his time between Hong Kong and the UK, he first came to attention in 2005 when the BBC Philharmonic under James MacMillan gave the world premiere of his orchestral work Illumination, which was subsequently performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and Manhattan School of Music Symphony.

Fung Lam holds the distinction of being the youngest Chinese composer (and the first from Hong Kong) to be commissioned by the BBC, when, in 2007, he was invited to write a work for the BBC Concert Orchestra. Unlocking, which took inspiration from an exhibition of locks at the Victoria and Albert Museum, was given its premiere under Charles Hazlewood, who also explored the work in detail in BBC Radio 3’s Discovering Music. A second BBC commission quickly followed: the miniature BE (2008) was heard at the Southbank Centre as part of BBC CO’s ‘Music & Chance’ concert, alongside pieces by such diverse artists and composers as the Pet Shop Boys, Paul Patterson and Tansy Davies.

In 2009, Lam was selected for the LSO Discovery Panufnik Young Composers Scheme; his work Yong (‘Surge’) was performed by the LSO under François-Xavier Roth and, the following year, at the Asian Music Festival by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of the composer. A commission for the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Rong (‘Harmony’), was given its premiere at the World Expo Shanghai in 2010 under Edo de Waart. A further BBC commission, the Darwinian influenced Endless Forms, received its world premiere at the BBC Proms in July 2012. Performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo, it was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. He was appointed in 2013 as The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Composer-in-Residence with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, who gave the premiere of Quintessence at their 40th Anniversary Gala Concert in June 2014 under the baton of their Music Director Jaap van Zweden. It has been taken on tour in Europe by the same performers in 2015, and again in China in 2016.

With a focus primarily on orchestral composition, Lam nonetheless tends to avoid dense instrumentation for large-scale forces and extravagant gestures in favour of clarity and restraint. Although the pentatonic scale may feature in his work, he holds back from traditional associations of Chinese culture by using these pentatonic elements in a primarily Western context. References to Buddhism, in particular the journey to spiritual enlightenment, which is a recurring theme in his output, are as likely to be filtered through the influence of such composers as Jonathan Harvey and Somei Satoh, as they are to be motivated by personal practice.

In 2012 Fung Lam received the Young Artist Award from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.