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featured interview

On June Lovers




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major China newspaper




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headline feature on June Lovers





Sing Tao Daily

major Hong Kong newspaper




Wen Wei Po
major Chinese newspaper





Musical America

Voted "Artist of the Month"





U Magazine





Ming Pao Weekly





Hong Kong Economic Times





New Haven Register

featured article






REVIEWS

I am trying to remember now where it was, and when it was, that it hit me. Was it during my first walk along the Bund in Shanghai in 2005? Was it amid the smog and dust in Chonqing, listening to a local communist party official describe a vast mound of rubber as the future financial center of south- west China? That was last year and somehow it impress me more that all the synchronised razzamatazz of the Olympic ceremony in Beijing. Or was it at Carnegie Hall only last month as I sat mesmerised by the music of Angel Lam, the dazzlingly gifted young Chinese composer who personifies the Orientalisation of classical music? I think maybe it was only then that I really got the point about this decade, just as it was drawing to a close: that we are living through the end of 500 years of western ascendancy.

- Financial Times Headline, "The decade the world tilted east", by Niall Ferguson December 28, 2009
- On the Preface of Niall Ferguson's book Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011)


The music which followed each reading started with some beautiful, pulsing melodic feeling...with the same honesty as Ms. Lam's poem-stories. The second reading took place in an imagined Shanghai (in capital Beijing), and the music became very Chinese...Mr. Ma's cello part, starting with some lovely meanderings, developed into a fantastic cadenza, accompanied by bass drum pounding...Nothing was contrived here, it was an honest and attractive concerto from a woman who has talent to spare and a long life to develop her inspiration.

- Harry Rolnick, ConcertoNet.com (NY Premiere of Awakening from a Disappearing Garden)


In part it is a cello concerto for Yo-Yo Ma. It is also a text - an otherworldly, dreamily poetic short story written and narrated by Ms. Lam. In the narrated sections Ms. Lam's music was gentle and distant... small, high-pitched bells, and the strings supplied a gentle murmur that gradually grew... When the music took the spotlight, Mr. Ma was given ample opportunity to draw on the rich, singing tone and sense of drama...in the second movement, [Ms. Lam gave] the orchestra fanciful music that drew on lively dance rhythms and couching Mr. Ma's solo line in microtonally sliding pitches.

- New York Times (NY Premiere of Awakening from a Disappearing Garden)


Both of the work's two movements feature dream narrations, one occurring in 1953, the other in 2007, involving two women who ultimately transcend time and meet. Each narration, here given by the composer, is followed by an extended meditation for cello and orchestra. Precious...soaring lyrical lines, reaching to the higher registers of the instrument...traditional Chinese elements and its lushly Romantic orchestration. As might be expected, Yo-Yo Ma brought passion and bravura to this music.

- Metropolitan Opera Guild's Opera News (NY Premiere of Awakening from a Disappearing Garden)


If this piece is typical of her other material, it instantly establishes her as a first-rate composer, blending the windswept, pastoral beauty of traditional Chinese classical music with western tonalities. Beginning abruptly with a few bursts from special guest Kojiro Umezaki's shakuhachi (an oversize Japanese wood flute), it rose to an ethereal, atmospheric yet rhythmically difficult altitude and pretty much stayed there for the duration, aside from a couple of breaks with light percussion. That the afternoon's final piece, Richard Strauss' Death and Transfiguration, would be anticlimactic speaks volumes about what preceded it.

- Lucid Culture (NY premiere of Her Thousand Year Dance)


The concert opened with In Search of Seasons, a kind of take on the famous Vivaldi concerto, but with a much more plaintive undertone. To me, it was an unusually affecting piece, filled with luxuriant chords, tender string songs and sensuous glissandos.

- Pioneer Press, TwinCities.com, Minneapolis (In Search of Seasons)


Angel Lam is a wisp of a thing - slender, soft-spoken, gentle slender - but her seemingly reserved personality belies anything in her music. It sweeps, sings and fills an entire hall, even when one has to lean forward to capture the whole sonic effect. Lam's "In Search of Seasons" is built on Eastern poetry that seems to describe one thing, but is truly about something else entirely.

- Minnesota Public Radio (In Search of Seasons)


The audience was treated to the sounds of that multi-layered city of Hong Kong, where traffic noises and rainfall and misty harbor islands conspire to create a dreamscape. Kojiro Umezaki played the shakuhachi...it makes a most hypnotic sound...with a range that touches the earth in one breath before soaring heavenward in the next breath. This composition calls to listeners from a faraway place in softly probing and enticing mysteries that are never fully unraveled.

- EDGE Boston, March 10, 2009 (Empty Mountian, Spirit Rain)


Like Golijov, she combines modern instrumental timbres with world music elements to produce a heady brew. Wielding the brush of a master tonal painter, the composer delineates a childhood vision of the day of her grandmother's death in her native Hong Kong. The alto flute sings a plaintive song in deep, vibrato laden tones. A big melodic thread that could have been written by Dvorak emerges in the cello while the violin line abounds in minimalist figurations a la Steve Reich. The bass acts as a neo-Baroque continuo...

- Sun-Sentinel, Florida (Empty Mountian, Spirit Rain)


The moody, spare-textured "Sun, Moon, and Star" by Angel Lam, a Hong Kong-born composer, was about her childhood friendships and was well suited to the clear, expressive voices of Chanel Wood and Yulia van Doren.

- New York Times


"Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain", written by Angel lam, features the marimba and the haunting sounds of the shakuhachi. A lovely, soulful piece, the composition is rooted in her reflections on the death of her grandmother when she was five. The music captures and conveys the essence of expectation; it is both poignant and important.

 - Yo-Yo Ma, on her Carnegie Hall debut composition, Silk Road Project Newsletter Winter 2007


Her cohesive, yet kaleidoscopic, outpouring reaches heights far above mere tone-painting, and is even more impressive, coming from the aural inventivness of a composer-in-training at Peabody Conservatory of Music. Ms. Lam's musical recounting of a battle during the Han dynasty (202 BCE)...began with a dramatic narration in a newscast tone. We were introduced to an eyewitness, "traveling through time at 900 times greater than normal energy," expressed in a swirling clarinet cadenza. Brass swells, horn calls, and trombone sforzandi rose to a frenzy at the height of the battle. Ms. Lam exhibited considerable facility at dipping into the tonal palette of the western orchestra, while skillfully weaving in elements of an ancient Chinese battle song.

- Wednesday Journal, Oak Park, IL (Symphonic Journal: Ambush from Ten Directions), May 2005


...stunning duets between aching strings and the breathy shudders of the traditional Japanese shakuhachi flute...

- San Francisco Classical Voice, March 2007


Lam's expressive Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain is a heartfelt depiction of sorrow...the delicacy and the cumulative effect of this profound writing were well realized by flutist Ebonee Thomas who performed the tricky shakuhachi bamboo flute part on her modern alto flute.

- Miami Herald, August 2007


Quite frankly, this judge found her music to be beautiful, even ravishing at moments, and is quite sure she will develop into a unique voice of new music.
Ms. Lam has a real sense of how to begin her music and to let it grow and develop in wonderful fashion... She has an evident and exquisite sense of instrumentation.


 - Mu Phi Epsilon Foundation Grant Competition 2004-05, adjudicator's comments


Lam is a talented composer who recreated drama in her music.

- Press release comments from Maestra Yip-Wing Sie, South China Morning Post (Symphonic Journal: Ambush from Ten Directions) Feb 2005


Describes the mood of the battle using dissonant atonal music
which gives it highly dramatic overtones!


 - hkentertainment [entertainment magazine] (Symphonic Journal: Ambush from Ten Directions), March 2005


Highly refreshing work...
One can directly feel the existence of clean air.

(translated by Pacific Music Festival)

- Hokkaido Shimbun [Hokkaido News], Japan (Red Peony Sky in Mid-June), July 2005


MORE Featured Interviews and Reviews

Musical America

Atlanta Journal Constitution

Wen Wei Po (China /Hong Kong major newspaper)

Yalie of the Week, Yale Alumni Magazine

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Palm Beach Post

Johns Hopkins Magazine

Peabody Magazine

CONTACT

Composer (at) angellam.com