The work was premiered at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival by the WSO (cond. Michelle Mourre), Centennial Hall, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on 26 January 2004.
“One selection that easily passed muster was WSO composer-in-residence Vincent Ho’s ‘Dragon Realms’, with its first incarnation premiered by the WSO four years ago. Ho’s further refinement of the score showed the growth and impressive talent of this young composer, with its one movement filled with raw beauty and a poetic sensibility that was genuine.” – The Winnipeg Free Press – Dragon Realms review
This piece represents my initial efforts in bridging Eastern and Western musical styles (a reflection of my own bi-cultural background). Throughout the piece, I incorporated numerous instrumental colors and sounds that I collected over the years of writing chamber music. These sounds not only characterize my current musical language but they also embody visceral elements that define the work’s orchestral sound-world (eg. gentle breezes accompanied by wind chimes, distant bells, quiet rustlings, etc). By having this palette, the materials I created embody experiential qualities that would conjure up personal or emotional associations for the listener.
Formally, the piece is built on six “images” (each one spanning between 1 to 3 minutes in duration) that unfold in a dream-like sequence:
I. Under the Dragon’s Wing
II. “I hear the Dragon singing…
III. The Lake of Dreams
IV. “Something wicked this way comes…”
V. Chasing the Dragon
VI. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”
Each image is presented as an understated rhetorical event, leaving the listener afloat as the music unfolds. Hence, my goals were two-fold: to not only convey a dream-like journey through the landscape of a mythical world but to put the listener (and performers) into the dream itself – to create a connection to a primordial realm. The order of the “images” creates a structure that holds the dramatic narrative thread, culminating to the work’s final kinetic moments.”
Order score and parts here.
This work was awarded the following prizes:
- The ASCAP Foundation’s 2004 “Morton Gould Young Composer Award”
- Second Prize (orchestral category) in the SOCAN Foundation’s 2004 Awards for Young Composers.
- The University of Southern California’s “Sadie J. Moss Composition Prize”