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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

Listening to Angel Lam

While I'm on a CD kick, I thought I'd mention another composer coming up on the Carnegie Hall festival schedule. Angel Lam's piece Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain has finally been released on a commercial recording.

Another of Lam's works, Awakening from a Disappearing Garden, which will be performed at Carnegie Hall on Saturday night with Yo-Yo Ma and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, is actually the composer's third Carnegie Hall commission. Her second, Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain, was initiated in conjunction with Ma's Silk Road Project. Until now, one could only listen to the piece in part on Carnegie Hall's website or in its entirely on a special edition of the Silk Road Ensemble's Sony release New Impossibilities, available exclusively through barnesandnoble.com.

Since I didn't get my copy of the disc online, I was happy to hear that a new recording of the piece (with a few of the same musicians) has been included on the Silk Road Ensemble's recent collection Off the Map, on World Village Music. There's definitely a theme here. Each of the US–based composers—including, in addition to Lam, Gabriella Lena Frank, Evan Ziporyn, and Osvaldo Golijov—brings at least two cultures to the table. Happily, Lam (at 31, the most junior of the group) holds her own with her more experienced colleagues, spinning musical lines of lyrical, almost ethereal beauty. The CD will be released in the US on November 10, but the download is already available.

Posted by Ken Smith

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