Symphony No.1 by Brian Chatpo Koo (Australia)

Symphony No 1

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to love and a time to hate

a time to kill and a time to heal

a time to mourn and a time to dance

‘A Time for Everything’ Ecclesiastes, 3:1-8

Inspired by these extracts, this symphony was planned in 1989. The first draft was written in 1999 and completed in 2000.

Using the ‘Method of Extension’ this symphony is derived from a five pitches cell: D, Eb, E, F#, and G#,  exposing the characteristics intervals repertory of the work as a whole.

This cell is proliferated by expanding the intervals from minor 2nds to octaves. The result of the proliferation is a 23-pitch collection that serves as a basic structural component of the pitch materials. Three basic motives are derived from these pitch sets. The motives are used in various aspects producing a variety of qualities of emotion, tension, and direction.

This work is a 42-minute single-movement Symphony, divided into six sections:

  1. Prelude
  2. Voice of Spring – a time to be born and a time to die,
  3. Love Song – a time to love and a time to hate
  4. Notices of War Drums – a time to kill and a time to heal
  5. Elegy – a time to mourn
  6. A Time to Dance – a time to dance

Based on the Fibonacci sequence (3′ 5′ 8′ 13′ etc.) these sections are divided and work with specified functions: an introduction followed by an exposition of numerous basic ideas and subjects, a development, and a conclusion

Opening the symphony, the pitches of Motive A and B are gradually introduced by the horns and completed by a tone cluster in the strings along with the piano and harp. This string tone cluster is used in all sections as a background accompaniment figure to unify the entire work. From this string tone cluster, an intermittent melody is derived from Motive B in the first violin.

As an “Exposition” the first subject opens Section II in the solo oboe. This is a melodic variation of Motive A which consists mostly of unessential notes while the Motive is completed at the first chord in the piano and the harp. The strings take over and gradually eliminate the unessential pitches of the Motive and finally establish the 2nd main subject.

It leads to Section III in a new form of Motive A as the 3rd Subject, an agitated running passage. The passage with various kinds of modifications combinations and developments dominates the first half of the section. The climax is built upon motive A which is followed by a contrasting them in the second half of the section. The theme, 4th Subject built upon Motive C – is a slow tender love song in the strings.

At the beginning of Section IV, Motive A becomes a depressing sound cluster in the low instruments and gradually ascends to the higher registers of the orchestra implying that there is something in the air. Against a sustained single high Eb taken from Motive B, the brass instruments burst out a theme erected from Motive C. With a prolonged modification this theme as it unfolds as a development leads to the main subject, a brassy theme of Motive A. This becomes a prominent subject that recurs at the end of the Symphony.

Section V employs new material along with the basic motive. It commences with Motive A in a slow mournful theme in the low strings. This theme gradually becomes replaced by the higher strings in the fugal style.

The final appearances of Motives A and B are the dance-like themes for the percussion instruments that open Section VI. After the dance-like opening, this conclusion reminiscent of Section IV which is dominated by the brassy theme, grandly finishes the Symphony.

Perspectives on Healing for solo piano by Chen-Hsin Su (Taiwan)

Perspectives on Healing
for solo piano
by Chen-Hsin Su (Taiwan)

In order to be healed from the various dilemmas in life, we need to understand our own habitual patterns of thinking in addition to the help provided by others. We often find afterwards that although similar types of dilemmas keep appearing, the main person who helps us overcome them is ourselves.

This piece is composed of melodies or rhythms with several levels of thematic material and their related patterns of variation.
These themes are: ‘’resilience’’, ‘’decision making’’, ‘’contemplation’’, ‘’inner struggle’’, ‘’dilemma’’, ‘’crisis’’, ‘’kind persons and their help’’, “fight for yourself”, and “feeling lost in life”.

The most frequent themes are: “kind persons and their help”, “resilience”, “dilemma “, and ” decision making “. (The less frequent material sometimes serves as a bridge between passages.)

Although the tempo is indicated on the score, the performer can use a flexible tempo as appropriate. This piece takes about 6 minutes to play.

Piano Sonata: Psychiatric Interview by Chen-Hsin Su (Taiwan)

Piano Sonata: Psychiatric Interview

by Chen-Hsin Su (Taiwan)

This Piano Sonata including 2 movements. Clinical psychiatric terms are incorporated to each piece in order to associate the audience with human emotions and behaviours.

<Explanation of the psychiatric term>

A psychiatric syndrome marked by the gradual development of a highly elaborate and complex delusional system, generally involving persecutory or grandiose delusions, with few other signs of personality disorganization or thought disorder.
When the pianist plays this piece, he needs to imagine a picture: an eccentric and suspicious person who gradually produces a systematic delusional system.
Mood disorder, is a group of emotional disturbance that describe a serious change in mood. Special arrangements have also been made for the conversion between various emotional disorders.

a personality trait involving tendencies to respond with negative emotions to threat, frustration, or loss.

A mild, chronic form of depression that lasts at least 2 years, during which, on most days, the individual experiences depressed mood for most of the day and at least two other symptoms of depression.

Normal range of mood, implying absence of depressed or elevated mood.
Mood abnormality with the qualitative characteristics of mania but somewhat less intense.

Mountain Spirits by Brian Chatpo Koo (Australia)

Mountain Spirits
by Brian Chatpo Koo (Australia)

I have always been fascinated by the mountains, their spirits, and the divinity of mountains. They always have a mysterious quality in their sheer size, still silence, and the cloudy mist that surrounds them.

The music consists of three movements depicting the mystery of the mountains the inner feeling of silence and the imaginary dance of their inner life.

  1. Preludio Senza tempo
  2. Portamento, Adagio
  3. Capriccio, Allegro

Commissioned by the Hong Kong Composers Guild in 1997, this piece was premiered by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in the same year at the Hong Kong Arts and Cultural Centre.

Dr Brian Chatpo Koo is a Sydney-based musician. He worked as a violinist, cellist, and conductor in several professional symphony orchestras before settling down in Sydney in 1993.

He studied music at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Sydney. He was the first person in Australia to receive a Ph.D. degree in music composition. He also studied music at the International Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany, and obtained his Licentiate, and Fellowship Diplomas from Trinity College of Music London.

As a composer, his compositions have been performed and broadcasted over Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia.

He won the Hong Kong Young Musicians’ Award in 1985 and the Himalaya Cup Award in the First International Competition for Piano Composition in Beijing in 1995.

As an academic member, he has worked as a tutor/teaching assistant for the Music Department at the University of Hong Kong, and a senior faculty member of the Australian Institute of Music, (where he established curricula for the Bachelor’s degree in Music Composition), and an external examiner for the University of Wollongong.

As a conductor, he has conducted many symphony orchestras to premiere his works, including both of his operas. 

He is the Founding Conductor and Artistic Director of the Sydney Contemporary Orchestra. The SCO Youth Symphony – the Sydney Hills Youth Orchestra and the Sydney Hills Junior Orchestra, and the Western Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

String Quartet No.2 by Brian T. Field (USA)

String Quartet No.2

by Brian T. Field (USA)

Note on work

Each of the four movements of String Quartet II focuses on a particular affect, that is expanded and developed.

In the first movement, the focus is on a honky-tonk/jazzy theme in a straight-forward 2/4 time that is subsequently manipulated through syncopation and changing meters.

The second movement begins with a pizzicato “spark,” that flickers and quickly spreads, growing more complicated. The rhythmic motif builds to a climax which eventually becomes more controlled, and finally fades.

The third movement is a brief, subdued and more sentimental piece that becomes rhapsodic before returning to its inward opening style.

The finale—a bit of a companion to the second movement with its pizzicato opening—features a fast-moving, dancing triple and duple rhythm across the strings. It begins very playfully, becomes hushed towards the middle, and finally concludes is a roaring, raucous fashion.

This work has been selected for 

Fantastic Creatures of the Mountains and Seas by Yangfan Xu (USA)

Fantastic Creatures of the Mountains and Seas
by Yangfan Xu (USA)

Program Notes:

Fantastic Creatures of the Mountains and Seas is a fantasy created by Yangfan Xu. The creatures in this piece are all recorded in Chinese mythology. Yangfan’s inspiration came from the Chinese classic Shan Hai Jing (山海经), which is a compilation of mythic geography and beasts. Lu Shu (鹿蜀), Shu Hu (孰湖), Di Jiang (帝江), Ran Yi Yu (冉遗 鱼) and Luo Yu (蠃鱼) are among the creatures featured in this piece. The storyline is original. Fantastic Creatures of the Mountains and Seas is a dream world, a curious vision, as well as a reflection on the interaction between humans and nature from ancient times to the present. Hope you can enjoy the wonderful journey into the ancient Chinese traditional mythology and Yangfan’s imaginary world.

Artworks are by Jinger Zhu.

It looks like a horse but has a white head. The markings on its body look like tigers and its tail is red. When it roars it sounds like a human singing. The name is Lu Shu (鹿蜀). People can bear more children if they wear its fur.

Its shape is the body of a horse but with wings of a bird. It has a human face and a snake tail. It likes to scoop up people and hold people in its arms. The name is Shu Hu (孰湖).

His appearance is like a yellow pocket, his glow is red like fire and he has six enormous feet. In place of his face are four wings and chaos. There is a god living in the mountains, and all primitive singing and dancing originated with him. His name is Di Jiang (帝江).

Ran Yi Yu (冉遗鱼) has the body of a fish, the head of a snake, and six feet. Its eyes are long like horse ears. Eating it can make people sleep without nightmares.

Luo Yu (蠃鱼) has the body of a fish and the wings of a bird. When it sings it sounds like a mandarin duck. Wherever Luo Yu goes, there will be floods.

This work has been selected for the Sydney International Composers Concerts 2023 – Contemporary Orchestral Music I on July 7, 2023. TLC Theatre Sydney Australia.

Piano trio The Flowing Water of the Yellow River by Brian Chatpo Koo (Australia)

Piano trio

The flowing water of the Yellow River

This work was written in 2000, inspired by an ancient Chinese poem from the Tong Dynasty. It expresses the flowing water of the Yellow River implying the constancy of the passing of time and the mortality of our lives.

In a single movement, the music is divided into 4 sections. Derived from a Chinese folk tune, a flowing background passage is transferred from one instrument to another, symbolizing the movement of the Yellow River.

The music in the second section of the trio imitates the theme of the original song. Accompanied by the cello’s tremolos the violin plays the song fragmentally and leads to a fresh blooming passage.

The 3rd section is a retrograde variation of the first section which builds to a limas before fuming to the final tune of the song and later, it is taken over by the cello. the music suddenly becomes joyful led by the piano.

In the final section, the violin emerges with the background music slowing the tempo moving to the high register, and finishing off the music on its high lonely harmonic.

Three pieces for piano solo by Paul Dice (USA)

Three pieces for piano solo

by Paul Dice

Program Notes

Variations on a Theme by Alida Dice (2021)

As I awaited the arrival of my daughter at a family Christmas gathering in Guilin, China, I tried to figure out what sort of gift I should give her. Since I depend on others so much in China for
everything, I opted out of buying her a present and decided to transcribe a short piano piece she had composed instead. As soon as I began working on it, I realized how fun it’d be to write
variations based on her theme. The resulting piece begins in a somber A minor but the variations travel through an array of different moods and tonalities before coming to calm and peaceful conclusion.


This piece is A self-portrait that reflects the struggles, emotions and eventual triumphs of my life during my late teens and early twenties. Portrait was premiered at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis by pianist Shirley Weston and was also performed at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was featured on a broadcast of “Music in Minnesota” on Minnesota Public Radio hosted by Randy Bourne, and on KFAI-FM’s “These Things Happen” with host John Brower.

Hop and Scamper

The inspiration for this piece came from watching common frogs hop around my backyard and tiny, Spring Peeper frogs scamper away from me whenever I got too close to them. It seemed that every time I lifted up a large rock near our garden I’d discover their hiding place. They’d just look up at me and seem to say “Could you please give us some privacy?!” And then they’d scamper away, turning around every few seconds to see if I was still there. I think they knew I was harmless, but they still found me annoying.

This work has been selected for the Sydney International Composers Concerts 2022 – Contemporary Piano Music 2022 concert on December 22, 2022 7:30PM at the TLC Theatre Sydney Australia

STAYING AT HOME for chamber orchestra by Paul Dice (USA)

Program Notes

I think I find it easier than others to follow rules. In my composing, I set my own rules, so I’m free to do whatever I please in a least one aspect of my life. So when COVID-19 forced shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, I complied. I spent most of the spring and summer of 2020 on my deck overlooking my backyard. I discovered that all the inspiration I needed for this piece was right in front of me and always had been. I counted the steps of robins as they searched for worms, and observed the acceleration of bunny hops and scampering critters as the winds picked up. I listened to the songs of common backyard birds – cardinals, robins, chickadees, Canadian geese and others – and jotted down the melodic twists and turns I imagined as willow tree branches danced in the breeze. And all I observed kept me calm and inspired and made its way into this piece in meaningful ways. Though this piece has several distinct sections, it should be played without pauses.

– Paul Dice 2020

This work has been selected for the Sydney International Composers Concerts 2023 – Contemporary Orchestral Music I concert on July 7, 2023, 7:30 PM. at TLC Theatre, Sydney Australia

Mirage for Orchestra by Brian Chatpo Koo (Australia)

for Orchestra
by Brian Chatpo Koo (Australia)

Mirage is the illusive appearance produced by air conditions causing something not existent to appear as if it were real.

The music consists of two movements. The first movement, Allegro Spirito is built upon several soft floating phrases in the string’s harmonics and accompanied by the tremolos of the winds and percussion instruments depicting the illusion of mirage. In the second movement, Allegro grandioso, the storm-like sonorities of the whole orchestra are contrasted with a soft, song-like passage depicting the conflicts between hope and reality. In the final section of the piece struggling from the piercing sonorities of the strings and the winds, the brass instruments build up a grand melody that ends the music suddenly.

This work was commissioned by the Hong Kong Composers’s Guild with financial assistance from the composers and Authors Society of Hong Kon and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council in 1996. The work was premiered by Hong Kong Sinfonietta Orchestra during the Musicarama International New Music Festival in Hong Kong on the 1st of September 1996.