Kai-Young Chan: in search of for violin and fixed media (2021)

Kai-Young Chan: in search of for violin and fixed media (2021)

(Commissioned by violinist Patrick T.S. Yim)



(Written by the composer)

in search of

for violin and fixed media

Programme notes

The work deals with the idea of struggle by asking the violin to express with a range of timbre that most would consider “unexpressive” and “noisy”. The musical materials are improvised based collected speech samples – questions – in varying shades of intensity, ranging from noise to lyrical notes. The work ruminates on the collective search of…

a question                          an answer

an exit                                an entrance

the beginning                    the end

…in the past year, when normality has been, and will still be, redefined at an unprecedented rate. The piece reveals the questions gradually, but the audience are invited to imagine what questions are being asked by the violin, when the performer is only allowed to “speak” with the instrument. They may also try to fit their own question into the speech rhythms.

The work musically “quotes” an excerpt from the poem “Farewell on Grassland” by Bai Juyi:

The overwhelming grass on the plain

Perish and flourish each year:

Never consumed by wildfire

And ever revived by the wind of spring.

This excerpt is an ode to the vitality of life forces – no matter how many times things perish, they will always be revived.





離離原上草,一歲一枯榮。 野火燒不盡,春風吹又生。


A Hong Kong-based composer, Kai-Young Chan focuses on the integration of nuance, relevance, and resonance in music that converses with societies and cultures, and he is particularly drawn to the musicality of Chinese literature expressed through the tonal Cantonese language. 

His music is performed across the continents by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, PRISM Quartet, Mivos Quartet, Daedalus Quartet, Dolce Suono Ensemble, International Ensemble Modern Academy, and Hong Kong New Ensemble, among other prominent performers. His selected works are released on Ablaze, innova, and PARMA records, with scores published by Editions Peters (London) and Central Conservatory of Music Press(Beijing).

Chan is part of the first artist delegation of American Composers Forum to the Havana Festival for Contemporary Music in Cuba, a historic tour documented by the National Public Radio. His music is featured in two editions of ISCM World Music Days (2015 in Slovenia, 2012 in Belgium), International Rostrum of Composers (2014 in Finland), June in Buffalo (USA), International Forum of New Music Manuel Enriquez (Mexico), Risuonanze Festival (Italy), Internationalen Ferienkurse Darmstadt (Germany), and Musicarama(Hong Kong).

Chan is a winner of the Keuris Composition Prize, the Emissary Quartet Composition Competition, Dolce Suono Ensemble Composition Competition, the Orchestra Seattle and Seattle Chamber Singers Competition, the Vocal Espoo Choral Composition Competition, Association for the Promotion of New Music Composition Competition, the Audience Prize of the Hong Kong Composer’s Showcase organized by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra,  Speech Choir Young Composer Award, CASH Music Scholarships, among other honors.

As a Benjamin Franklin Fellow, Chan earned his PhD in Music Composition from the University of Pennsylvania, where he worked with Jay Reise, James Primosch, and Anna Weesner. He currently serves as Assistant Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he obtained his Master of Music (under the supervision of Victor Chan) and Bachelor of Arts in Translation with first class honours. 


​陳啟揚的作品曾獲美國匹茲堡交響樂團、奧爾巴尼交響樂團、西雅圖樂團、寇蒂斯音樂學院樂團、坦帕灣交響樂團、Daedalus弦樂四重奏、Mivos弦樂四重奏、Mise-en樂團、俄羅斯Cantando四重奏、德國國際現代合奏音樂學院、香港管弦樂團、香港小交響樂團等樂團演奏,並先後入選國際現代音樂節2012 (比利時)、華人作曲家音樂節2013(香港)、Risuonanze 音樂節 (意大利)、國際作曲家交流會議2014(芬蘭)、2015國際新音樂論壇(墨西哥)、國際現代音樂節2015 (斯洛文尼亞)、2015夏灣拿現代音樂節(古巴)、2016埃斯波聲樂節(芬蘭)、2016 soundSCAPE(意大利)、2017中國東盟音樂節(中國)、2017 華倫西亞音樂節(西班牙)、2018水牛城六月音樂節(美國)、2018西北室內音樂節(美國)等國際音樂節。其樂譜出版商包括Edition Peters、香港兒童合唱團等,而唱片則由PARMA、Innova、Ablaze等唱片公司全球發行。