Kai-Young Chan

Composer Fellow (Hong Kong)

Kai-Young Chan

Composer Fellow

Kai-Young Chan is a composer based in Hong Kong, currently serving on the composition faculty at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is particularly drawn to the sound and musicality of Chinese literature channeled through the tonal Cantonese language, and has incorporated such materials in music of diverse styles, media, and musical languages. His music is performed across the continents by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, PRISM Quartet, Daedalus Quartet, Mivos Quartet, and International Ensemble Modern Academy, among other prominent performers. His selected works are released on Ablaze Records, PARMA Recordings, and Innova Recordings, with scores published by Edition Peters (London) and Central Conservatory of Music Press (Beijing).

Kai-Young is part of the first artist delegation of the American Composers Forum to the Havana Festival for Contemporary Music in Cuba, a historic tour documented by the National Public Radio. His music is also presented on such international stages as Chamber Music Northwest, ISCM World Music Days, International Rostrum of Composers, June in Buffalo, International Forum of New Music Manuel Enriquez, Valencia International Performance Academy and Festival, soundSCAPE, Internationalen Ferienkurse Darmstadt, among others. He received his Ph.D. in Music Composition with the Benjamin Franklin Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

Featured Work

Reverberance of the Autumn Night

Reverberance of the Autumn Night draws its pitch materials and structure from the poem Autumn Night by Tang Dynasty poet Du Mu, who expressed with his poem the loneliness of a palace servant whose fan has lost its purpose as autumn arrived – an allusion to the waning influence of the poet’s family in the imperial court. Also featured in the poem were the stars of the Cowherd and the Weaving Lady, a legend about two separated lovers who can only meet once a year.

The poetic imageries of starlight and glimmering fireflies tracks inspired the shimmery timbre of the harmonic trills featured throughout the piece, which at times hint at the theme pointillistically, and at other times recede to the background as an accompaniment to the lyrical and expressive lines drawn from the tonal contour of the poem. The two violins often exchange in roles and echo each other’s materials, but there are also climactic moments where the two work together as a single entity.

The original version of this work, Echoes of the Autumn Night, was commissioned by Patrick Yim.

-Kai-Young Chan