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See List of Works
Hush for choir
"menacing and poetic" - Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian
East Asian identities (amongst others) are often characterised by the quiet, diligent, hard-working individual who excels academically but struggles socially in a robotic existence. Such monolithic portrayals speak to the ‘model minority myth’, a term coined in the 1960s to describe Asian Americans in contrast to African Americans as a mechanism to promote assimilation into a culturally white hegemony. Indeed, this “racial wedge”, to use Masako Fukui’s term, is part of a wider toxic environment where problematic racialisations of communities continue to damage our society today.
Hush reveals the latent power of the silent. It explores the tension embedded in this space: one that is vibrant, alive, and present.
Gambit for 6 instruments
Performance starts at 16'11''.
Riot Ensemble at Crossroads Festival 2021, Salzburg.
Gambit takes inspiration from chess, a game I played semi-obsessively and competitively whilst growing up and rediscovered during lockdown. On being asked to write for the wonderful Riot Ensemble, I was pleasantly surprised to find that director Aaron Holloway-Nahum was also a keen player. We played a few games – all quietly intense, infrequently calculated, and ultimately frantic as we ran out of time to play our moves – from which the idea of Gambit was born.
Untold - an anti-opera
Winner of the George Butterword Award 2020 for "an outstanding new work"
"A collaborative tale of pride and grace" - Schmopera
"[I]t was a very special evening: sincere, unpretentious, inclusive, inspired and inspiring...[The] juxtaposition of Chinese and Western idioms and cultures was simply brilliant in its delivery."
- David Gowland, Artistic Director of the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at Royal Opera House
Untold is an anti-opera exploring British-Chinese identity through music and movement. In particular, it hopes to show the vitality and heterogeneity of Chinese transnational experience, demonstrating how it can reinvent musical genres such as opera as well as shed light on how Chinese diaspora navigate the complex cultural spaces in diverse and unique ways.
AMAZON for found sounds
Created by with Theatre Maker Elayce Ismail. Co-commissioned by London Sinfonietta and Music Theatre Wales.
A trip to the Amazon takes an unexpected turn. Alex Ho and Elayce Ismail have never met in person. Neither had used zoom before lockdown. They now know a lot about the inside of each other’s homes: where the best signal is, what’s hanging on the back of that door just in shot, how well the sound of a reversing truck in London carries to Cambridge… Out of this virtual meeting, and sharing of lives and ideas, came AMAZON.
What started as a meditation on the suspension of time and collapse of space, became a quest for connection to the world beyond their screens and outside their windows. The result was a surprising and joyful creative collaboration that took them on a journey to the other side of the world.
...chinese whispers... for SSA
Juice Vocal Ensemble at Cheltenham Music Festival 2018
"A perfect combination" - Max Reinhardt, BBC Late Junction
This piece looks to reinterpret elements of Chinese oral traditions within a musical context. There are thus sounds inspired on the one hand by Chinese musics, namely Chinese opera and ritualistic singing; and on the other, sounds inspired by the Cantonese language itself, using for instance the different ‘tones’ that make up the language as registral ‘mannerisms’ or ‘behaviours’.
My grasp of Chinese has never been very good, much to my mother’s frustration, and my ability to pronounce tones accurately is particularly lacking. I imagine that I am playing a game of ‘Chinese Whispers’, and I am at the end of the line, and my message is always wrong.
Spiralling Scrolls for clarinet, viola and yangqin
Commissioned by London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Soundhub) and premiered at LSO St Luke's by Scott Lygate, Paul Silverthorne and Reylon Yount at LSO St Luke's.
Spiralling Scrolls looks to explore these ideas of distance and their implications on structural narratives and the development of relationships between instruments from distinct cultures. The piece looks to raise questions about the perception of identity and consequently how these identities can be recontextualised, reshaped and reimagined. Indeed, the hope is to reflect the complex and fluid nature of diasporic culture, for although there are questions that will never be answered, there are new possibilities and realities as a result.