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About the Author
Ken Smith currently divides his time between New York (where he writes for Gramophone magazine) and Hong Kong (where he serves as the Asian–performing arts critic for the Financial Times). He is Co–Music Director of the recordings Dong Folk Songs and Miao Music for China's MediaFusion Group, and he won an ASCAP–Deems Taylor Award in 2008 for his liner notes to Gil Shaham's recording of The Butterfly Lovers Concerto for Violin. Ken is also the author of Fate! Luck! Chance!, published in 2008 by Chronicle Books.

Ancient Paths, Modern Voices Blog

Angel Lam's Family Affair

As Saturday’s standing ovation petered out, the intermission crush began: Crowds of well-wishers poured backstage and crammed into an elevator alongside Wednesday night’s marimba. Several floors above, they lined the hallway where composer Angel Lam waited alongside her piece’s soloist, Yo-Yo Ma.

Lam’s mother, dressed in a traditional Chinese outfit like her daughter, scanned the bustling crowd with a look of calm content. Strongly represented in the mob was that most ancient of Chinese ideas: the family clan, or jiāzú. “Oh, we have aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters—probably about 15 or 20 people total, coming in from California and Hong Kong.” And those were just the blood relatives. Composer-comrades like Huang Ruo, Bright Sheng, and Chen Qigang lined the halls, as did a diverse cast of characters ranging from singer Shen Yang to a smiling Steve Orlins, President of the National Committee on United States–China Relations.

Eventually the stampede subsided and ushers shooed the fans back to their seats, but not before Lam and Ma had had their fill of congratulations. They smiled into the final camera flashes as the intermission-ending bells sounded throughout the Hall.

Posted by Nick Frisch, 2009–2010 Fulbright Fellow researching classical music developments in China

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Chinese Translation (Traditional Characters)
Chinese Translation (Simplified Characters)