Underwood New Music Readings: Composer Spotlight – Kay He

Composer Kay He one of the seven selected composers for ACO’s 24th annual Underwood New Music Readings on May 6 and 7. She dedicates her selected piece Passeig de Gràcia to her parents, and was inspired to write it after visiting the famous Barcelona avenue. Read her full program note here.

Kay was kind enough to answer some questions for SoundAdvice.

Composer Yuanyan Kay He
What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Underwood New Music Readings?

I felt so happy.  Writing for orchestra is always one of the biggest challenges for emerging composers, so hearing our music performed by a professional orchestra and learning from the orchestra are some of the most valuable experiences for young composers.  Also, the master classes instructed by leaders in the industry, which provide information on subjects such as instrumental balance and timbre, communication skills between conductors and musicians, part preparation, and copyright commission agreements, provide important learning opportunities and skills for aspiring composers.  I am so lucky to be chosen for ACO’s Underwood New Music Readings. This opportunity will inspire me to keep working hard in my composition career. I also hope my music can convey a new music spirit to other young composers and encourage them to write their own orchestra music.  Many thanks to ACO for selecting my work.  It means a lot to me.

What preparations are you making ahead of the readings with the American Composers Orchestra?
In my piece, there are many sudden mood changes and different layers of foreground and background instruments. To prepare for the reading, I studied my score very carefully to make sure all mistakes were eliminated. But, because there are about 30 or 40 systems in the full score, it wasn’t easy to catch all the mistakes. Then, I spent some time completing the parts, which is a good way to proofread the entire score. Additionally, while I read my scores, I always try to imagine my piece in my head and sing the music with my heart in order to remember the characteristics and tempo of each section.  I believe doing this exercise and fully understanding my score/piece will allow for better communication between me and the conductor.

Follow Kay on Facebook and Soundcloud

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