One Piano, Two Cultures

Key information

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Russell Square: College Buildings
Kamran Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT)

About this event

Kiu Tung Poon (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

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Syncretising elements from different cultures has been embraced as an effective metaphor for musical creativity in much of the twentieth century and beyond by Chinese musicians at home and abroad. This lecture recital will look at selected piano works by four contemporary Chinese composers, living away from the direct jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China in particular, to examine the sonic attributes that have been framed as “Chinese” and “Western,” as well as the language and strategies of musical syncretism that have been identified as an expression of their cultural identities in their compositions.

In her much performed Ba Ban, Chen Yi (b.1953) juxtaposed what was essentially a pentatonic melodic template, or “mother tune,” for hundreds of traditional Chinese melodies with chromaticism and serialism. Wendy Lee (b.1977) draw on aesthetic principles in her new composition without iconic reference to Chinese sounds. Zhou Long (b.1953) mixed percussive piano sound with two Chinese gongs to create Beijing opera-inspired sonority in his Pianogongs. He portrayed images from the ancient Classic of Mountains and Seas and a poem by Li Bai (701-762) with sonority produced inside the piano to create his Pianobells. In his Les marées de la nuit, Chen Kai-Young (b. 1987) formed a myriad of overtones by assimilating lower-register piano tone-clusters and unceasing tremolo of tam-tam (Ancient Chinese chau gong).

In response to the current political crisis in Hong Kong and the conflict between China and the West, this lecture recital hopes to be a symbol of turning conflict into coexistence.


With a passion to introduce the works of contemporary Chinese composers, Hong Kong pianist Kiu Tung POON aims to act as an ambassador of cultural union, to bridge the Chinese and the people from the West through music, and to deliver humanistic messages through music and hence create a better world. As a Young Steinway Artist, she appeared as recitalist and collaborative pianist on concert stages in the US, Germany, Vienna, France, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, and Mainland China. International music festival appearances include Tanglewood and Aspen in the US, Great Wall in Beijing, and Le French May in Hong Kong. Her performances were broadcasted on RTHK Radio 4, Austin’s KMFA, and Teledifusão de Macau among others. As an advocate of new music, she was privileged to work with today’s foremost American composers including George Tsontakis and Dan Welcher, and has premièred with the Penderecki Quartet among others. Her recent interest in Chinese-Western syncretism in music and contemporary Chinese composers resulted in numerous lecture-recitals and performances in the US, Asia, and Europe. Her world première of Mark Morris/Samuel Barber’s Excursions with Mark Morris Dance Group in the Tanglewood Music Festival received enthusiastic review by critics writing for The New York Times and Boston Phoenix.

Graduated from the Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Texas at Austin with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance, her principal mentors were Cheng Wai, Jean-Louis Haguenauer, Gabriel Kwok, and Anton Nel. She has also worked with Michel Béroff, Claude Frank, Jean-François Heisser, John O’Conor, Garrick Ohlsson, John Perry, and Manahem Pressler during summers. Prior teaching experiences include an assistantship in the University of Texas at Austin and a resident fellowship in the University of Macau. She currently teaches at The Chinese University of Hong Kong as a lecturer in performance and serves as the performance stream coordinator in the Department of Music. More information available at .



Ji-Dong-Nuo (2005) for solo piano

Ba Ban (1999) for solo piano

LEE Wan-Ki Wendy
New work (2019)

Pianogongs (2006) for piano and two Chinese opera gongs

Pianobells (2012) for piano

CHAN Kai-Young
Les marées de la nuit , for piano and fixed media (2011/2019)
Recorded tam-tam by Louis Siu


This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Online Registration

Chair: Dr Hwee-San Tan (SOAS)

Organiser: SOAS Department of Music and SOAS China Institute

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4823