15 Oct 2018

Call for scores: 1st Malaysian Contemporary Piano Festival and Competition 2019

Malaysian Composers Collective (MCC) collaborates with UCSI University, Kuala Lumpur to organise the 1st Malaysian Contemporary Piano Festival and Competition in August 2019.

The festival celebrates Malaysia's great piano tradition and thriving compositional talent spanning several generation of composers, and invites all Malaysian composers to submit their best piano works for the competition.

During the festival, the winning work(s) will be selected by a panel during the performance. The winner (up to two winners) will be commissioned to compose the set work for the finalists of the UCSI University International Piano Festival & Competition 2020. Check out the previous UCSI University International Piano Festival & Competition 2018.

All selected composers’ piano scores will also be published in the Malaysian Piano Anthology 1 planned for 2019/20, as the country's first ever publication of local piano scores.

Deadline for submission:  30 April 2019


1. Malaysian composers aged 21 years and above are invited to submit solo piano works
2. Compositions should be between 5-10 minutes
3. The composition can be a new work or a work written after January 1, 2010
4. The composition is written for one pianist
5. The composition may include electronics
6. Prepared piano works are possible but will be performed on a smaller grand piano
7. Composers can only submit one work
8. Handwritten scores must be clearly written and neatly presented
9. Submit your PDF scores and mp3 recording (if available) to:
acl.malaysia@gmail.com with the subject 'Submission: Contemporary
Piano Festival 2019'
10. Include a cover letter with your name, email address and a short biography of not more than 250 words.  All information must fit into 1-page only
11. Proof of citizenship and age either Malaysian Passport or Malaysian Identification Card
12. There is no entry fee

About UCSI

UCSI University International Piano Festival & Competition has been held every two years since 2014. the most recent being this year's festival in June.

The event aims to raise the musical standards within the country and region by providing opportunities for young musicians to perform in public and grow in their performing experience. The contestants will also receive constructive feedback from the adjudication panel of well established international and local pianists. We aspire to promote music appreciation and engage the performers, parents, teachers and students through recitals, master classes, and lectures.

UCSI University is a leading institution of higher learning with campuses in Kuala Lumpur, Terengganu and Sarawak, Malaysia, with state-of-the-art facilities to meet student needs, and offering a wide spectrum of academic programmes, ranging from Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Engineering and Architecture to Music, Multimedia, Education, Liberal Arts and Hospitality. 

Ng Chong Lim's A Distant Sound of the Rainforest, Johan Othman's Composition for Piano No, 8, Jessica Cho's Five Little Pieces for Piano.


19 Sep 2018

Passing of Japanese composer Isao Matsushita felt throughout Asia Pacific

On September 16 Japan lost its veteran composer Isao Matsushita, who passed away at the age of 66. He was vice president of Tokyo University of the Arts, Professor of Performing Arts Center and President of the Japan federation of Composers (JFC).

His departure was strongly felt throughout the  Asia Pacific region.

According to his biography, Matsushita obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Matsushita has participated in several music festivals, such as the "World Music Days of International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) Festival in Graz '82, in Hong
Kong 1988, in Mexico 1993", "Horizonte Festival Berlin '85", "European Music Days Copenhagen '85", "Invention Festival Berlin '86" and so on. His composition, "TOKI-NO-ITO 1 (Threads of Time) for String Quartet" took first prize in the Moenchengladbach International Composition Competition in West Germany in 1985. In 1986, Matsushita gained the seventh annual Irino Prize with "TOKI-NO-ITO 2 (Threads of Time) for Piano and Orchestra."

In 1994 his composition ”Hi-Ten-Yu” (Fly Heaven Play) for Japanese Drums and octet was premiered by Berlin Philharmonic Scharoun Ensemble, then it was rewritten by himself as the Concerto for Japanese Drums and Orchestra in 1996, since then it has been performed all over the world. In 2000 it was performed by Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Kent Nagano. His Opera "Shinano-no-Kuni, Zenkoji-Story" was premiered as cultural Program of Winter Olympic Game 1998 in Nagano.In 1999 “ Fujito” for Noh and Strings Quartet was premiered inTokyoOn the same year he produced the concerts of “Asian Arts Festival” presented by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan.

7 Sep 2018

Fusion and Transformation in Taiwan

On the morning of 15 August, an exciting conglomerate of composers, conductors and musicians gathered at the National Theatre and Concert Hall in Taipei to kick off the 35th “Asian Composers League Conference and Festival.”

The honorable guests at the opening meeting included Tsung-Huang Hsiao, the Political Deputy Minister of Culture; and Yu-Pei Liao, the Chief Secretary of Hakka Affairs Council, a government institution that fully supports the event. Taipei National University of the Arts, Taipei Chinese Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Mȕller Chamber Choir, Chai Found Music Workshop, and Taipei Chamber Singers also joined the meeting to announce the start of this much-anticipated event in Taiwan.

Other guests from local organizations and music groups included Hsien-hsun Chiu (vice president of TNUA), Hsiao-ping Chen (vice director of Taipei Chinese Orchestra), Hsin-yuan Shih (manager of Programming & Planning Department, NTCH), Wen-Chen Kuo (executive director of NSO), Cheng-Ming Huang (director of Chai Found), Su-chen Fang (director of TCS), Chia-He Wu (executive director of Mȕller Chamber Choir), Tsu-Yi Lai (manager of Ju Percussion Group), Han-Chih Tai (member of Ju Percussion Group), Yuan-yu Liao (conductor for the closing concert), and Po-Chien Liu (winner of 34th ACL Young Composers Competition). Tsung-Huang Hsiao, the Political Deputy Minister of Culture of R.O.C., was known for his achievements in the field of visual arts.

At the meeting he shared some of his observations about the intersection between art, music and social science. “The visual design of this edition reveals this 45-year-old association’s ambition in becoming a hub that links the music communities around Asia. Music knows no boundaries, and composers play an important role in connecting music from different regions and turning music into a medium that goes beyond borderlines. As we know, music plays a vital role in our life and our connection with it lasts from birth to death. We hear rhythmic beats of the mother’s heart as a fetus, and music is usually the best companion one can have when leaving this world.

Yu-Pei Liao, the Chief Secretary of Hakka Affairs Council, also stated that, “Music is an excellent carrier of culture which consolidates collective identity and continues the national heritage and legacy.” She also gave a brief introduction to the four Hakka pieces which were to be presented at the festival, including the choral “Weng Ahong” by Wen-Tzu Lu (artistic director of the 35th ACL Conference & Festival), which was based on the Meinong mountain song “Ban-shan Yiao”; the “Legend of The Three Mountain Kings,” an orchestral piece based on the Hakka belief of “Three Mountain Kings” composed by Prof. Fan-Ling Su; and two Chinese orchestral pieces based on Hakka folk songs created by Po-Chien Liu, the 2016 ACL Young Composers Competition winner and the Hong Kong composer Ming-Chi Chen. The Opening Ceremony will present Mȕller Chamber Choir singing the works of Yu-Hsien Teng, a highly venerated early Hakka composer.

The Hakka Affairs Council hopes to bring international audience closer to Hakka music and culture with these beautifully crafted works.

The honorary president of ACLTW Hwang-Long Pan began by expressing his appreciation to the music groups and government departments for their continued support to the ACL through the years. He pointed out that Asia was known for its diversified cultures and traditions. Sometimes different sides of a mountain could mean different countries, each with a distinct music scene. Despite the geographical immensity, ACL has successfully forged a new music community which runs the gamut from Northeast and Southeast Asia to West and Central Asia, including Israel and Turkey, even the Oceania.

With the advantage of multiculturalism, composers should not satisfy themselves with simply adapting the traditional music, boasting, “This is my work.” Rather, they should “transform” from where they are. It is through this way that each composer shows their individuality. The concept is important to the participating composers and this is why the 35th ACL Conference & Festival is themed with “Fusion and Transformation.”

Pan also noted several contemporary young Taiwanese composers who had been recognized with several prestigious awards. Some of the awards they have obtained since 2012 include the first prize of International Society for Contemporary Music, first prize of ACL, and the Best Performance Award of the ACL Conference & Festival. Their works even become a subject for academic research because of the rich cultural implications in their music. By combining the efforts of all participating composers, musicians, audience and media, ACLTW hopes to introduce more people to the fascinating world of contemporary music and feel its beauty.

Related story:

18 Aug 2018

Ainolnaim's composition picked as one of two winning works at the MAtera INtermedia Festival 2018

Ainolnaim Azizol has scored another win with his work for flute and eletronics 'JuliJuli', which has been announced as one of two winning works selected for the 2nd MA/IN ~ Spaziomusica Commission in Italy.

Ainol's work was selected from among 291 works from 44 different countries received by the festival organisers.

The other winning work was Sergio Andrés Santi's (Arg) work titled 'Uira'.

'JuliJuli' is a 7 minute work for amplified alto flute with vocalisation and electronics.

The composer writes, “The piece is inspired by the narrative of a Malay folklore, Jula Juli Bintang Tujuh. The piece starts with background gestures and later introduces the middle ground both by the alto flute and voice.”

“The foreground is established by the emergence of the electronics part. The alto flute and voice is considered as anthropophony, and the electronics part is formulated with Malay gamelan instruments, including biophony and geophony elements, which reflects the identity of the narrative.”

The work will be performered by flautist Enrico Di Felice at the MA/IN 2018 [MAtera INtermediaFestival] from 3-8 October 2018 in Matera, Italy. (Also visit the festival Facebook.)

Ainolnaim's achievement marks another accolade in Ainolnaim's growing list of successes, from 3rd Prize at the New Recorder Music festival in Lausanne in 2016, 2nd Prize Tokyo in 2014 at the Asian Composers League Young Composers Award and third prize in the Eight Bridges new music festival in Cologne in 2012.
An excerpt from 'JuliJuli'


3 Aug 2018

Adeline Wong's Herringbone for piano premieres in S'pore

Adeline Wong's new work Herringbone for piano will premiere in Singapore on August 28 at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory. The work is part of visiting artists Foo Mei-Yi (piano) and Bartosz Woroch (violin) concert at the university, featuring solo and duo works by a diverse selection of 20th Century composers and more recent works.

Says Wong of her piece, “Herringbone is the third and central movement of a connected series of a 5-movement work. In the preceding movement, Nexus (for low brass quintet) ends with a sustained B flat major chord and a 4-note motive comprising minor and major 2nds played sporadically.

“Herringbone opens with this similar material, but is transformed into an entirely new texture of persistent repeated notes in a toccata manner.  Throughout the work, one hears overtones from the piano recalling long sustained organ-like chords from the brass quintet.

“The fleeting rapid notes from the texture is continually interrupted - but at the same time, given a new thrust of energy - by the percussive chords struck in the different regions of the keyboard.  

“The rapid alternation of notes in the opening of the work is later developed into a bell-like hypnotic sonority at the closing section.

“Although not programmatic in nature, Herringbone does suggest a rising and falling contour of the 4-note motive originating from the “V” shape found in weaving patterns. The sudden shifts of dynamics, registers and textures from the keyboard gives the impression of a high speed school of herring suddenly changing course.”

The concert programme features works by Unsuk Chin, Dai Fujikura, Péter Eötvös and John Cage, just to name a few.

According to the YST website on the concert:


The Modern Playground is a concert devised to showcase repertoire that depicts the humorous facets of some of the most important contemporary composers of our time.

The first part is primarily a collection of piano miniatures, with the exception of Samarasa for violin solo. These 12 pieces illuminate each other by connecting onto each other's associative musical materials. The connections and contrasts reveal not only the virtuosity and colourful writing of the composers, but also their humour and playfulness.

The second part of the concert showcases the modern repertoire for solo violin and violin-piano duo. It highlights a new approach to composition and performance by using various extended techniques. The new harmonic language presents the violin in a completely new light, thus changing the preconception of the nature of the instrument and its limits.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
7:30 PM
Conservatory Orchestra Hall YST Conservatory Singapore, 117376 Singapore
Free admission.

5 Jun 2018

Rayner Naili to bring the sounds of Sabah to the Asia-Pacific stage

After showcasing Malaysia's young compositional talents from both the West and East coasts, the next representative at the upcoming ACL festival hails from the Borneo state of Sabah across the South China Sea.

28-year-old Rayner Naili, born in Sabah, will be presenting his chamber work piece Serpihan Mimpi for flute and violin (Fragments of Dream) at the festival's Young Composers Competition, and sees the opportunity as a "breakthrough" for Sabahan composers.

Naili started learning music as a self-taught musician, and then decided to get proper music education at the Faculty of Music of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) from 2008 until 2013, where he received a dean's list for his Bachelor of music in composition.

He then furthered his studies in composition at the University of Manchester, UK, where he studied composition with Richard Whalley. Rayner’s works have been performed and workshopped with many professional musicians such as the Quartor Danel, Trio Atem, Clare Hammond etc.

Currently, Naili is teaching at the Faculty of Music in UiTM.

On his four-part work, Naili says, "The piece was inspired by the idea of a journey in a dream. There are many occasions in a dream that switch from one emotion to another in relation to the dimensions of the dream.

"These dimensions could be related to each other or could be different from one another. Although these fragments of the journey are scattered, it's still in one set of a dream, hence, it makes a story that has different sets of emotions. These emotions and dimensions were composed and arranged accordingly as there are several parts in music composition."

The four short movements of the work are titled: I. Samar, II. Celaru, III. Sepi, IV. Riuh.

It begins with a conventional dialogue between the two instruments, but as the movements unfold, Naili introduces more extended techniques and flexible meters, and the tonality of the opening soon gives way to more unconventional sounds from the instruments, including jet whistle tones and scratch tones (excerpt below).

On his musical style, Naili says, "My music has always been influenced with interlocking elements, rhythmically and harmonically. This could be influenced of my growing up with the traditional music of Sabah, such as gong tunes, kulintangan, togunggak etc, which are largely using interlocking as their main element.

"Apart from that, I have always been fascinated with Einstein’s theory of relativity, where the speed of light is a universal measurement of time. From this perspective, I usually try to develop my music using these two elements of interlocking and relativity."

He said going to Taiwan for the 35th ACL "would be a breakthrough for me or any Sabahan contemporary composer".

"It would be an exciting experience to explore other composers’ works and hopefully learn something for personal development, and promote Malaysian contemporary music at the same time," said Naili.

History of the ACL Young Composers Competition

The ACL (Asian Composers League) comprises representative bodies from across the Asia Pacific that holds regular festivals every 12 to 18 months around the region. Its Young Composers Competition is a platform for young composers around the region to show their talent.

As the Malaysian representative in ACL, the Malaysian Composers Collective (MCC) has sent many young talents to the regional platform, and each and every representative has done the country proud in showing their highly individual musical voices. In  particular, 2011 (Taiwan), Jessica Cho won third prize for her work Five Little Pieces for Piano, while in 2014 (Tokyo), Ainolnaim Azizol won second prize for his Fragments I for trumpet duo.

2011 Taipei - Jessica Cho, won 3rd Prize
2013 Singapore - Ainolnaim Azizol
2014 Tokyo - Ainolnaim Azizo, won 2nd Prize
2015 Manila - Sayyid Shafiee
2016 Hanoi - Raja Mohamad Alif  
2018 Taipei - Rayner Naili

1 Jun 2018

ACL festival in Taiwan to feature five Malaysian composers

The 2018 ACL Conference and Festival will take place from Oct 19 to 23 at Taipei, Taiwan.

On the programme are works by Malaysian composers Vivian Chua (photo), Adeline Wong, Ainolnaim Azizol, Wong Chee Wei and Young Composer Competition representative, Sabahan 28-year-old Rayner Naili.

Vivian CHUA (Malaysia): Mercu Kegemilangan

Chamber Music A (For 4-5 players)
Adeline WONG (Malaysia): Interweaves

Chamber Music B (For 1-3 players)
Chee Wei WONG (Malaysia): A Song In Vain IIn

Electroacoustics / Multimedia
Ainolnaim AZIZOL (Malaysia): Clouds

Young Composers Competition
Rainer Naili: Serpihan Mimpi for flute and violin

According to the organisers, the selection committee carefully selected 66 works out of 238 applications sent by the ACL member organizations.  The selected 66 works are from:

Australia: 3
Hong Kong: 8
Indonesia: 3
Israel: 5
Japan: 3
Korea: 7
Malaysia: 5
New Zealand: 4
Philippines:  3
Singapore: 7
Thailand: 1
Vietnam: 1

and 16 works from the host, Taiwan.

The full schedule and details are now on the festival website

Malaysian premieres since 1995

Here is a roundup of premieres of Malaysian works at home and abroad. Since the mid-90s Malaysian works have been performed largely abroad...

Malaysian Composers TV

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