16 Aug 2019

Two composers win commisions at the inaugural Free Hand Festival 2019

Free Hand Festival 2019 on Wednesday, 14th August saw music and piano lovers from all walks of live from as far as Penang and Singapore, gather at UCSI Institute of Music Kuala Lumpur to soak themselves in a day of Malaysian art music, from the well-attended seminars in the day where composers took the public through their compositional processes, to fascinating insights into the world of playing new music to new audiences in Mei Yi Foo's talk 'Modern Playground'.

The highlight of the festival was undoubtedly the 2013 BBC Music Magazine 'Best Newcomer' award-winner Foo's concert, where she dove into the variegated world of Malaysian new music, that took the audience through a fascinating journey into the world of contemporary piano sounds. The sonic saga visited some unusual places such as the woodcutter's world of percussive sounds in Choke Yuen Ting's The Woodcutter's Song, and the eerie other(piano)worldly ivory sounds of Chow Jun Yan's experimental piece In the Absence of Silence.

The closing works from Tazul Tajuddin, Kabus Pantun, a musical reimagining of the Malay traditional poem, and festival director Adeline Wong's exhilarating Herringbone were a real treat to watch, especially in the way Foo athletically lept through the latter's hammering notes and took the audience on a breathtaking sprint to the concert's finishing line.

Other works on the programme were ​Raja Mohamad Alif's Dol Said, a sound painting of the Naning Wars in colonial Malacca, Samuel Cho's Vatni, a study on water movements and fluidity, Chow Jun Yi's introspective Deep in the City, Lee Chie Tsang's Sympathetic [re]sonance, inspired by the sonic architecture of a Rajastjani musical instrument, and C H Loh's Morning at Klang Harbour, a reflection of sea burials dedicated to his recently departed mentor Luk Hoi Yui.

Closing the night of new sounds was surely  music to the ears of two of the young composers, Lee Chie Tsang (photo,second from right) and Samuel Cho, whom the judges Seung Jae Chung (Korea (president of ACL-Korea, photo, second from left) and Hoh Chung Shih (president of the Composers Society of Singapore, photo, third from left) awarded as winners of the commission to write test works for UCSI's International Piano Festival & Competition in 2020.

Free Hand 2019 organised by Malaysian Composers Collective (MCC) and sponsored by UCSI
University Institute of Music and Yayasan Sime Darby, with extra assistance from Pejabat Pembangunan Negeri Wilayah Persekutuan.



4 Jul 2019

Award-winning pianist Foo Mei Yi performs original Malaysian works in KL, 14 August 2019

On 14 August, BBC Music Magazine's Best Newcomer award in 2013, London-based Malaysian pianist Foo Mei Yi will perform 9 Malaysian contemporary classical piano works at the Free Hand festival organised by the Malaysian Composers Collective and UCSI University's Institute of Music, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, including the works of award-winning composers Adeline Wong and Tazul Tajuddin.

The festival is the first of a regular series to encourage the composition of local piano works of high standard, that can be showcased by pianists at home and abroad.

At the festival two winning composers will be picked to be commissioned to write the test piece for for the finalists of the UCSI University International Piano Festival & Competition in 2020.

Submissions for the festival will also be included in Malaysia's first ever anthology of piano works to be published after the event.

Foo is excited to be performing the Malaysian works, and says, "I believe this concert will prove itself to be a game changer, at least for me."

Find out more at www.freehandfestival.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/freehandfestival

About Mei Yi Foo

Winner of the 2013 BBC Music Magazine’s Best Newcomer award, Mei Yi Foo is recognised internationally as an innovative pianist with a diverse and eclectic repertoire. A prolific concert soloist, Mei Yi has appeared with the English Chamber Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony, London Chamber Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Remix Ensemble and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

She has garnered rave reviews from The Times, Independent, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, SRF broadcast, Guardian and Klassik magazine.

A native of Malaysia, Mei Yi resides in the UK after completing her studies at the Royal College and Royal Academy of Music in London with Yonty Solomon, Chris Elton and Alexander Satz.  Currently she holds a teaching position at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Mei Yi was also awarded the medal of Setiawan Tuanku Muhriz for her contribution towards art and music in her home country.

“…she sat down at the piano to give us a taster: three little late-20th century dazzlers, impish and poetic. Immediately we were her devoted fans.” - The Times

“…not only a virtuoso pianist, but an unaffected, intelligent artist.”  - Timeout

‘“Newcomer triumphs at BBC Music Awards […] Malaysian pianist steals the show […] her genius is now unquestionable’. - The Arts Desk

“Finally hats off to a young Malaysian […] Mei Yi Foo intrigued, charmed and dazzled in equal measure.” - International Piano Magazine


28 Mar 2019

Malaysian minimalism in the south, soundscapes in the West

Last weekend Malaysian music made its mark in Singapore and California, USA through the works of Adeline Wong and Ainolnaim Azizol respectively.

Singapore art and music lovers got a closer look at the inner workings of Wong's new work for piano Herringbone last weekend, when she gave a presentation at the Marina Bay Sands' Minimalism Symposium at the ArtScience Museum's Expression Gallery.

Organised as a programme of Minimalism: Space. Light. Object. at ArtScience Museum, the symposium aimed to discuss Minimalism as a cross-arts phenomenon by addressing the rich terrain of intersections, and encourages new thoughts about the role and influence of Minimalism on performative practices.

Writes ArtScience Museum, "Firmly established in the lexicon of twentieth century art, the impact and influences of Minimalism are felt to this day, bringing about ongoing and compelling discourses as each generation of artists mines its form."

Wong's piano work, first premiered in the island nation by UK-based award winning Malaysian pianist Foo Mei Yi, serves to illustrate how she has employed the concepts of minimalism in music today - an art form that has come a long way since its early days of Philip Glass and Terry Riley -  to her latest piano work.

Her composition is also shown in The Sound Room in Minimalism: Space. Light. Object at ArtScience Museum. The museum describes the piece as "bold, with textural energy and kaleidoscopic colours ... marked by the use and concentration of as little material as possible."

Meanwhile, further West, composer Ainolnaim was invited to Stanford University, California to present his work Gneiss for almglocken, geduk, computer and 8 speakers at a concert last Sunday. The work was part of a series of concerts at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) as part of its Linux Audio Conference 2019.

The work was one of four works presented in the programme, comprising composers from Stanford and Japan.

According to the programme notes, "Gneiss is an electroacoustic piece written for Almglocken, Geduk and 8 speakers with computer. It is a revision from my previous original electroacoustic work for flute and 2 speakers with laptop, JulaJuli which was commissioned for for MA/IN Music Festival, Italy 2018 and Spaziomusica Festival Italy 2018.

"The piece uses Geophony recording during my visit in Zermatt, Switzerland as background while “cultural sound” at the middle ground and the musical instruments as foreground.

"Gneiss was premiered for Malaysia Electronic Music Festival - SPECTRA 2018 and followed by another performance for Connecting Beats Malaysia Vol.5 Mini Festival 2018. The piece will be performed again for Linux Audio Conference 2019 (LAC-19) at Stanford University’s Centre for Computer Research in Music (CCRMA) Stage in fixed media format."

Singapore's Straits Times reviews Herringbone
Adeline Wong's Herringbone for piano premieres in S'pore


14 Feb 2019

Aswara to include Malaysian piano scores in their new exam board

Aswara is planning to propose a new and local music exam board - ASWARA Music Performance Diploma (AMPD). For this, they are going to start with the piano session first.

According to the representative, "The objective of the AMPD exam gives the opportunity to musicians who wish to demonstrate advanced level of playing with good skill, knowledge and understanding of the music performed. In addition, musicians who take this exam can also widen their repertoire study not only in Western countries, but also the music composed in Asia countries."

As part of the effort, Aswara will also help to encourage performance of Malaysian piano works.

MCC is helping Aswara to make their pioneering effort a success so that the music community can get to know Malaysia's many fascinating piano works.

Those interested in having their piano works considered please write in to aclmalaysia@gmail.com by the first week of April.

Celestine Yoong played Ng Chong Lim's Dragonfly
as the set piece for the 2013 Chopin Competition before winning the
Gold playing Mozart Piano Concerto in C Major
in the finals (pic).

15 Oct 2018

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


Malaysian Composers Collective (MCC) is collaborating with UCSI University, Kuala Lumpur to organise Free Hand, 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.

Submissions have been completed and the selection process finalised. Congratulations to all successful applicants! More information about the festival will be available soon.


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.

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