Alice Ping Yee Ho 何冰頤
One of the most acclaimed composers writing in Canada today, Hong Kong-born Alice Ping Yee Ho has written in many musical genres and received numerous national and international awards, including the 2019 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize, 2016 Louis Applebaum Composers Award, 2014 Prince Edward Island Symphony Composers Competition, 2014 Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Friendship Orchestral Composition Competition, 2013 Dora Mavor Moore Award “Outstanding Original Opera” for her opera The Lesson of Da Ji, 2013 Boston Metro Opera International Composition Competition, K.M. Hunter Artist Award, du Maurier Arts Ltd. Canadian Composers Competition, MACRO International Composition Competition, Luxembourg Sinfonietta International Composition Prize, and International League of Women Composers Competition.
Critics have called her music dramatic and graceful, while praising its “organic flow of imagination,” “distinctly individual” style”, “colourful orchestration”, and “emotive qualities”. Influences evident in her proudly eclectic approach include Chinese folk and operatic idioms, Japanese Taiko , jazz, pop culture, and other contemporary art forms. Her ongoing goal is to explore new musical styles that are provocative to the ears.
“Colors and tonality are two attractive resources to me: they form certain mental images that connect to audiences in a very basic way.” [AH]
Often featured at national and international new music festivals such as ISCM World Music Days, Ottawa Chamberfest, Demark’s CRUSH New Music Festival, Asian Music Week in Japan, etc. Her works have also been performed by major ensembles and soloists including Finnish Lapland Chamber Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, China National Symphony, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Polish Radio Choir, Estonia’s Ellerhein Girls’ Choir, the Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Victoria, Nova Scotia, Hamilton, Kitchener Waterloo, and Windsor Symphonies, the Luxembourg Sinfonietta, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, New Music Concerts, Penderecki String Quartet, TorQ percussion quartet, Duo Concertante, violist Rivka Golani, percussionists Sumire Yoshihara, Evelyn Glennie, and Beverley Johnston, flutist Robert Aitken, Patrick Gallois, and Susan Hoeppner.
A twice JUNO Award Nominee (2015 and 2018), she has an impressive discography released on the Centrediscs, Naxos, Marquis Classics, Blue Griffin, Electra, and Phoenix labels. She has four solo discs (Centrediscs/Naxos) devoted to music written for different genres: “Ming” for percussion, “Glistening Pianos” for two pianos, “The Lesson of Da Di” features her full length award winning opera, and “The Mysterious Boot” features chamber music for flute, cello, and piano. She is currently producing her 5th CD for her children’s opera The Monkiest King with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company on Centrediscs/Naxos labels, to be released in the spring of 2020. This new opera with librettist Marjorie Chan has received two nominations in the 2019 Dora Mavor Moore Award for “Outstanding New Opera” and “Outstanding Performing Ensemble”. Her project in-progress including an opera commission CHINATOWN from City Opera Vancouver, with renowned Canadian writer/librettist Madeleine Thien, to be produced in September of 2022 at Vancouver Playhouse.
Ms. Ho holds a Bachelor of Music degree in composition with high distinction from Indiana University and a Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Toronto. Her teachers have included John Eaton (USA), Brian Ferneyhough(Germany), and John Beckwith (Canada).
She is a noted classical pianist and an active advocate of contemporary music. She had performed in many new music festivals, including a solo piano recital recorded by CBC Radio 2 in which she premiered Tan Dun’s solo piano work “Traces II”. She now makes her home in Toronto.
Alice Ho’s website: www.alicepyho.com
“Four Dragons” (2020) – Alice Ping Yee Ho (Toronto) 9’30”
for dizi, flute, erhu/vocal, erhu 2 or violin, guitar, ruan, cello, percussion
This composition is inspired by tales of dragons in ancient mythology. Dragons are symbols of supreme power and good fortune in many cultures. I am particularly fascinated about the relationship between dragons and humans told in ancient Chinese folklore, their ability in controlling over nature and people is an important part of Chinese culture over thousands of years.
This nine minutes composition, commissioned by the Sound of Dragon Ensemble, unfolds the Four Dragons Tale of China. The four connecting short movements in this work suggests a “Once Upon A Time” story about four virtuous dragons saving the world from drought by scooping up sea water and sprayed rain from heaven. Their noble deed infuriated the Jade Emperor, and eventually banished themselves to form China’s four great rivers – the Hellongjian 黑龍江 (Black Dragon) in the North, the Huangbe 黃河 (Yellow River) in central China, the Changjiang長江 (Yantze River) farther south,and the Zhujiang 珠江 (Pearl River) in the South.
The instrumentation is a mixed ensemble of dizi, western flute, female voice, percussion, classical guitar, daruan, 2 erhu, and cello. This unconventional combination provides unusual instrumental colors and timbre. An exotic sound world evolved from an atmospheric ceremonial first movement, and heightened the energy in the forthcoming music journey with distinct rhythmic and melodic ideas. Combining intense drumming, strumming techniques, microtonal effects, and folk style vocalization, I hope to sparks the imaginary characters of the dragons and voices of human, and engage the audience in an ancient magical world.
composer Alice Ho talks about her work “Four Dragons”, before the premiere by the Sound of Dragon Ensemble
“Buddha‘s Song” (2013, 2018) – Alice Ping Yee Ho (Toronto) 7’00”
for dizi, sheng, erhu, pipa, zheng, cello, percussion
This composition is inspired by a childhood memory: growing up in my grand parents’ house in Hong Kong, my grandmother had a daily routine chanting to a statue of a Laughing Buddha (笑佛). What I recall the figurine is a fat man with a big smile, dressed in a robe and surrounded by many adoring children. Since he represents contentment and abundance, the Laughing Buddha statue becomes a common sacred household item worshipped by many families in China regardless of their religions and differences.
Using a mixed ensemble of Chinese instruments (dizi, sheng, 2 erhu, pipa, guzheng) with percussion and Western cello, this work is written in loving memory of my grandparents to celebrate human spirit by tracing the character of a “good Buddha”: poor but generous, entertaining and loving.
“Tempered Moon” – Alice Ping Yee Ho (Toronto) 7’20”
for erhu, zheng, pipa
Tempered Moon depicts a poetic imaginary: under the quavering moonlight, many shadows become alive and take shapes as beautiful, seductive beings. The feeling of Moon-struck is expressed through the evocative and lyrical nature of the three Chinese instruments: Erhu, Pipa, and Guzheng. It is a musical journey of discovering love and euphoria.