2008-03-20

Ko Fan-Long

One of the delights of living in Taiwan is the new music you discover. On many programs here you will encounter the music of Ko Fan-long (柯芳隆, b. 1947), one of Taiwan's leading composers. His is a versatile muse, equally at home with the idioms of villages and studios, islands and Alps, recital halls and Himalayas.

Ko, a native of Taichung, graduated from the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei. In 1980 he went on to enroll at the Berlin University of the Arts in Germany, where he studied composition with F. M. Beyer. He joined the NTNU faculty upon his return to Taiwan in 1985. Today he continues to serve his alma mater as music department chairman and professor of composition.In 2002 he received Taiwan's prestigious Wan San-Lien Music Award.

In Ko's compositions you hear a cosmopolitan blend of European and Asian timbres and techniques. He often calls upon performers to switch concepts with in a single piece, sounding first like an instrument from nineteenth-century Austria and the next like an instrument from ancient Tibet. He easily and fluidly shifts gears from the pentatonic scales of traditional Asian music to the free atonality of twentieth-century music. Compositions by Ko that have drawn particular acclaim here include the Quintet II (1992) for chamber ensemble, The Weeping Mermaid (1993) for orchestra, the imposing three-movement Dream of the Year 2000 for chorus and orchestra, and Overture to Taiwan's New Century (2003) for orchestra.

In September 2007 I heard three of his major orchestral works--Taiwan's New Century, The Weeping Mermaid, and Dream of the Year 2000--featured in an NTNU American tour program entitled Formosa Dreaming. Apo Hsu led the NTNU Symphony Orchestra and Formosa Festival Choir. The four soloists for the symphony were Hsieh Meng-chieh (soprano), Lee Yu (alto), Lin Chung-chi (tenor), and Chang Yu-hsin (bass); the massive choir was prepared by Huang Tsui-yu. The tour program also featured the music of Taiwanese composer Tyzen Hsiao.

Works
  • 1971 Sacrificial Ceremony for violin and piano
  • 1972 Chang'e as a Rocket for solo piano
  • 1973 Duet for Clarinet and Piano
  • 1974 Ripples in Ma-Zu for solo piano
  • 1980 Change for cello and piano
  • 1981 Trio for Oboe, Violoncello and Piano
  • 1982 Growth and Decline of Five Elements for four cellos
  • 1982 Sextet for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, French Horn, Violin and Violoncello
  • 1983 Septet for Flute, Clarinet, Strings and Percussion
  • 1984 String Quartet no. 1
  • 1984 Sedan Chair of the Gods for full orchestra
  • 1985 Duet for Oboe and Violoncello
  • 1986 Sedan Chair for a Wedding for flute, oboe, horn, violin, cello and piano
  • 1988 Mend the Torn Silk for chorus
  • 1992 Quintet II for violin, cello, flute, trombone, and percussion
  • 1993 The Weeping Mermaid for orchestra
  • 1994 Four Hakka Ballads for clarinet, violin, cello and piano
  • 1996 First Time (Taiwanese song)
  • 1997 Sacrifice for piano trio
  • 1998 Artistic Conception for solo piano
  • 1999 Formosa String Quartet no. 2
  • 2000 Dream of the Year 2000, a three-movement symphony for chorus and orchestra
  • 2000 Love Story for seven bassoons
  • 2001 When the Bugle Calls for trumpet and four horns
  • 2002 Taiwanese Folk Song Suite for strings
  • 2003 Water Lantern on February 28 (Taiwanese song)
  • 2003 Overture to Taiwan's New Century for full orchestra
  • 2008 2-28 Requiem (April premiere)

A variant of this post was submitted to Wikipedia and Answers.com in 2007 as an encyclopaedia entry.

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