World premiere: Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra; Hippocrates Cheng, overtone singing soloist; Chew Hee Chiat, conductor, 13 May 2017, HKCO Recital Hall, HK 世界首演: 香港中樂團; 鄭靖楠, 泛音詠唱; 周熙杰, 指揮, 2017年5月13日, 香港中樂團演奏廳, 香港
In spite of its small size, Hong Kong is a metropolis that brings together East and West. In writing The Walled City for the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, I tried to take a revolutionary approach that would depict modern Hong Kong, through creating concrete images of Chinese and Western music cultures and blending them in an orchestral voice. New compositional techniques and orchestration in both Chinese and Western music are used to highlight the timbre and characteristic of each Chinese musical instrument, which may be likened to projecting the characterful voice of each and every HongKonger coming from diverse backgrounds. In this piece, the musical instruments no longer retain their traditionally assigned roles; each is a protagonist, just like every individual person in the community of Hong Kong, and each is indispensable. Special acoustic effects are used in some instruments to add interest to the iconic images of Hong Kong.
Towards the middle part, there is an interactive passage realized by orchestral panning. Launched by the conductor and responded by the musicians, a dynamic, three-dimensional sound effect is achieved. Then it comes an overtone singing passage (sung by me the composer), which is delivered in an impromptu contrapuntal run with the orchestra. The purity of voice as an instrument aims to be a cleansing, soothing spray on the irritated, stressed-out souls of the HongKongers. As the music moves into the last section, the primitive sounds and forthright character of the traditional instruments are given full play in a rhythmic showcase of corralled cacophony, finally settling into an impressive oneness in form.
I hope the audience will be inspired to engage in a whole new perspective of their own Walled City when listening to this piece.