Composition student Ho-Chi So wins award at the Young Composers Meeting

18 March 2021

The Young Composers Meeting is an initiative by Orkest De Ereprijs to give young professional composers a chance to compose for an ensemble and develop their talents, knowledge and professional network.
Each year 16 young composers get selected to work for a week with the Ereprijs and a vocal ensemble on their composition.

This year the meeting took place completely online. Whereas all participating composers could work with the orchestra from their homes via a video call.

The song of memories and forgetting from the hand of Composition Master 2 student Ho-Chi So got awarded with one of the three awards that were given at the end of the week. The award he got is called the Frank van der Wal Fonds-commission. The price consists of the commission of a new composition for Orkest the Ereprijs, which will be performed during one of their concerts. Ho-Chi gets a fee of € 2.500,- to write this new work.

Ho-Chi tells us about his piece and his experiences in the Young Composers Meeting.

‘It started with an idea to process a song that was censored by the government in a way that it could be performed publically. The audience should know which song it was, but I also had to make my way around the censorship of the government. So, I tried to reverse the song and then notate the lyrics and music in reverse order so that it is not recognisable but you can feel the original song.

I used this same idea for The song of memories and forgetting I intended to create a mirrored form. In the first part I recorded the singer and the ensemble playing a fragmented, borrowed tune in a reverse way, and then played it back in the second part but I reversed the recording so that it revealed the original song but in a weird way. At the same time, the ensemble and singer were also playing on top of the recording.

The piece is about how one deals with the past in the present in order to move on to the future. This echoes a quote from Milan Kundera's novel I have read recently: "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." It resonates with all the encounters I had in the past few years which kind of constitute part of who I am now.

I borrowed a Scottish folk song Auld Lang Syne which is about old friendship or separation of friends. One sentence in the lyrics catches me the most: "Should auld acquaintance be forgotten, and never brought to mind?" while the "acquaintance" could imply many things, I feel that it is very suitable to the concept of my piece, so I use this tune as the basic material of my piece.

Working with Orkest de Ereprijs was a very pleasurable and amazing experience! Even though we could not be there physically, the technical support enabled us to rehearse and discuss the piece very smoothly. The conductor gave me a lot of practical advice for solving problems in the piece. The performance quality was very high. Especially the singer João was amazing!

Of course, it is a pity that we could not be there physically. But the online environment that was set up worked quite well.
They set up a rehearsal venue with multiple microphones and cameras with live mixing. The sound quality was quite good. It was nice that the communication between the conductor and me was very direct. I had contact with the singer personally before and after the rehearsals so that I could focus on the ensemble during the rehearsals.’

Ho-Chi will now first finish his Master Research but already with the nice perspective in mind of writing another piece for the Ereprijs.