Upcoming performance:

July 28 2018: “…one gallon of tears…” for flute and clarinet at Heights Arts in Cleveland, OH

June 15 2018: “…one gallon of tears…” for flute and clarinet at Appletree Book in Cleveland, OH

For the preview of the concert, please visit:

Appletree book June 15 2018

For the version for two flutes please visit:

May 30 2018: “…sfumato…” (premiere) for Vive! ensemble at Urban Artifact in Cincinnati, OH
May 31 2018: “…sfumato…” Vive! ensemble at Nashville State Community College
June 2 2018: “…sfumato…” Vive! ensemble at Farr Best Theatre in Dallas, TX


Vive ensemble picture
Vive! Ensemble

“A Withering Sunflower with Uneven Legs” for Chinese flute (dizi) solo and 14 musicians

Soloist: Hong-Da Chin
Ensemble: CCM Contemporary Music Ensemble
Conductor: Aik-Khai Pung

“A Withering Sunflower with Uneven Legs” was commissioned by the BGSU New Music Ensemble.

The Kafkaesque title reflects the constant struggle between optimism and pessimism that we experience in life. There is no one situation in our life that we can be entirely optimistic or pessimistic about. We can be optimistic about one thing and be pessimistic about the same thing the very next moment, or vice versa. In the words of Heraclitus, the weeping philosopher: “Change is the only constant in life.”

“Sunflower” was written with the idea of incorporating the traditional dizi techniques into the western ensemble producing a flowing dialogue between the dizi and the western ensemble. The traditional dizi techniques employed are the glissandi, “chopping” (abrupt and aggressive grace notes), and flutter-tongue. Glissandi are widely used in the strings and brass; the “chopping” techniques are used in the woodwind; flutter-tongue is used in woodwind, brass, and strings (tremolo). Percussion plays an important role to add cultural color to the music with temple blocks and gongs.

“Mimosa” for piccolo solo

Performer, video recording, video editing: Hong-Da Chin

“Mimosa is any of various mostly tropical herbs, shrubs, and trees that have globular heads of small flowers with protruding stamens and usually bipinnate, compound leaves that are often sensitive to touch or light.”

The direct translation of Mimosa from Chinese is “shy grass”. It’s named “shy grass” because the leaves are very sensitive to touch and when the leaves are touched,they would close to protect the plant. I am inspired from this particular character of Mimosa in writing this piece.

“…who am i…” for video and fixed media

Video, and character: Hong-Da Chin
Thanks: Chenxiao Zhang, Heather Elliott-Famularo

“…who am i…” was a final video project for a video class at Bowling Green State University. The concept of “…who am i…” is about searching for my identity. Being a Chinese Malaysian, I am culturally confused to place myself within my home country and in the United States. The layering techniques are used to portray the confused state; the constantly moving shots indicate the searching process; and the cubism technique that ends the video portrays an uncertainty in finding a identity.

As an artist, I constantly try to blend musical elements from my country in my art work. The output of my cultural confusion can be seen in my music composition. I would also like to take advantage of producing this video as part of my journey in searching for my very own identity.

“The Mouse Deer and the Crocodile”, a micro opera

Production: Thompson Street Opera Company
Folktale recalled and translated by Hong-Da Chin
Story edited by Yvonne Freckmann

In the summer of 2015, the currently Chicago-based Thompson Street Opera Company produced “The Mouse Deer and the Crocodile” in Louisville, Kentucky. This was the second production of the opera. The first performance was produced by the BG Opera.

The Mouse Deer and the Crocodile was inspired by a Malaysian folktale that I learned when I was a boy. Just like a fable, the classic Malaysian folktale “The Mouse Deer and the Crocodile” is told to educate the young generation with the entailed moral values. The folktale begins in a tropical forest in Malaysia where, the mouse deer, Sang Kancil, looks for food and it has to cross a river full of crocodiles with a leader named Sang Buaya. The mouse deer eventually outsmarts the crocodiles by tricking them into forming a line as a bridge for the mouse deer to cross the river.

The musical language of the opera is heavily influenced by elements of Malaysian (Malay, Chinese, and Indian) folk music which I grew up listening to.

“Snowflakes” for full orchestra

“Snowflakes” for orchestra won the 47th Annual BGSU Concerto Competition for Competition. It was premiered by the BG Philharmonia conducted by Brady Meyer.

“Snowflakes” is an expanded orchestral version of a work that was originally written during the 2013 Charlotte New Music Festival. The icy atmosphere n the work was inspired by the intensity of the high register of instruments as used by the late Italian composer Niccolò Castiglioni (1932-1996).

“Snowflake” for piano trio

“Snowflake” was the original version of the orchestra work “Snowflakes.” It was written for a piano trio in collaboration with Caroline Calouche, a dancer based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The Mouse Deer and the Crocodile”, a micro opera

Folktale recalled and translated by Hong-Da Chin
Story edited by Yvonne Freckmann

Dramatic Personae:
Coloratura Soprano – Liz Hood (Mouse Deer – Sang Kancil)
Mezzo-Soprano – Amy Grams (Bodhi Tree – Narrator)
Baritone – John Mink (Crocodile – Sang Buaya)

Conductor – Santiago Pineros Serrano
Director – Ellen Scholl

Flute/piccolo – Jory King
Clarinet/Bass Clarinet – Meghan Yankowskas
Percussion – Andrew Bosomworth
Violin – Alec Norkey
Cello – Josh Williams
Piano – Kevin Bylsma

Joseph Amstutz
Adelle Blauser
Autum Cochran-Jordan
Bailey Maxfull
Luke Serrano

“…the clock is ticking…” for string quartet

The Freya String Quartet premiered my second string quartet “…the clock is ticking…” The idea of the piece comes from how fast time flies without us realizing it. It was written for the 2013 Charlotte New Music Festival.

“Rhythmic Storytelling” for piano trio

This performance by the Genevan Trio was recorded at University of Nebraska – Lincoln during Chamber Music Institute 2013.

“Rhythmic Storytelling,” on which this trio is based, is a form of art in China where a story is told to clapper accompaniment. The storytellers have an assistant with two wooden pieces, which he hits together rhythmically. The violin and cello are the storytellers and the piano acts as clapper. Further emulating the sound and tones of the storytelling, the the strings have heavily-slided glissando passages that are the imitation of the four tones – level (flat), rising (up), going (down and up), and entering (down) – of Mandarin Chinese.

“Paradise of Birds” for piano, soprano, and piccolo
Winner of Dolce Suono Ensemble’s Young Composers Competition 2013

Dolce Suono Ensemble
Sarah Shafer, soprano
Mimi Stillman, flute/piccolo
Natalie Zhu, piano

The concert was presented by Dolce Suono Ensemble in the concert “Debussy as Painter of Song” at Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia in May 19, 2013.

“Premonition” for full orchestra

“Premonition” for full orchestra was read by the University of Louisville Orchestra during Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Conducting and Composition Workshop.

In planning the piece, I created a graphic sketch that captured several of the gestures that were in my mind. Premonition successfully realizes most of these gestures and their uncertainty suggest a sense of anxiety over what will happen later; this also portrays most people’s excessive worry about what is going to happen in the future, something over which they may have no control.

“Fable” for 16 musicians

“Fable” for 16 musicians was premiered by Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej, conducted by Szymon Bywalec at Brand New Music Festival 2012 at Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland.

Fable was inspired by two fables by Jean de la Fontaine: The Cat and the Fox and The Elephant and Jupiter’s Ape. I find a lot of inspiration in animals and nature, and I am drawn to the moral values conveyed in the fables. In this project I realized the stories, images, and emotions of the characters through music. While most of the music captures the spirit of the fable, some portions paint specific moments, such as the fox being chased by a group of hounds.

A native of Malaysia, I grew up in a multi-cultural society with a variety of rich musical traditions. Taking full advantage of my Southeast Asian background of Indian and Gamelan music, I incorporated these influences into language of the piece.

“Poem Recitation” for Chinese flute solo

“Poem Recitation” for G dadi (Big G-key Chinese flute). Premiered by Hong-Da Chin at the Cathedral of St. Luke & St. Paul during the Spoleto Festival USA 2012 in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Poem Recitation is inspired by Chinese poetry that has been an important part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. In this piece, I treat the dizi soloist as a poet that recites a poem and brings out the emotion and meaning of it. The poem I had in mind for this piece is the famous Thoughts on a Silent Night by Tang dynasty poet Li Bai, in which he reflects on his homesickness.

“Conversation between Owl, Nightingale, and Lark” for soprano and flute/piccolo

Soprano: Debbie Hill
Flute/piccolo: Hong-Da
Comstock Concert Hall, University of Louisville on 3/7/2012.

The song is inspired by a poem titled Bird-songs by George MacDonald. Soprano, flute and piccolo have always been associated with birds, and I took advantage of this connection. I emulated the birdsongs with the flutes and voice by creating a dialogue through music and poetry. Bird lovers may recognize the transcribed songs of these three birds.

“Conversations between Wind and Water” for flute solo

The video above is the premiere of my flute solo, “Conversations between Wind and Water,” by Orlando Cela on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 at Williams College, Williamstown, MA as part of the I/O Fest 2012.

I have long been passionate and enthusiastic about nature. As a flutist, the sounds of wind and water have been my targets of imitation. Through Conversations between Wind and Water, I used the sound of flute to imitate the sounds of wind and water with as many extended techniques as I could possibly use.

“Emptiness” for flute solo

Emptiness was performed by virtuoso flutist, Daiske Kino-shita on March 17th, 2012 at SEGI College, Subang Jaya, Malaysia.

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