Review: "Taiwan Philharmonic Tours Four Chinese Cities" by American Record Guide (Gil French)

...she’s a composer to be on the lookout for.
— American Record Guide

March/April 2016 

"Taiwan Philharmonic Tours Four Chinese Cities"

by American Record Guide (Gil French)


...In Taiwan swallows nestling in trees in front of homes or businesses is a symbol of good fortune.  Ming-Hsiu Yen, 35, noticed nests in front of a string of restaurants near her home and followed the birds' progress from birth to the day they flew off. Thus, the title of her 15-20 minute "Flying Toward the Horizon (2012). Woodwinds twitter against light percussion strokes, swooping string lines mimic the swallows' arching flight patterns, and a seamless transition shifts the music from descriptive to atmospheric, dramatically reflecting the anxious helplessness onlookers felt seeing a dead baby bird hanging over the edge of one nest. As she said, "Flying is not a gesture only but a movement that symbolizes passion, hope, and love."

In Xiamen the clarity of her kaleidoscopic orchestration immediately drew my interest. But it was on second hearing in Hong Kong that a light celeste (an ineffectual piano was used in Xiamen), full-string portamentos in the cellos, suspended brass harmonies, and her dramatic counterpoint developed into a Shostakovich-like moment when my right arm shot up and fear gripped my chest, reflecting the circle of life of our vulnerable fellow creatures.

Yen, also an award-winning pianist, now lives in Taipei after years of study at the Eastman School of Music and University of Michigan. She keeps fresh by composing works of varying natures—for children, drama-and-light companies, symphonic ensembles, etc.  Based on the structural integrity of Flying, she's a composer to be on the lookout for....