CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 June 2019

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Diocese honours father of modern music in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (SE): A gala recital was held in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on the evening of November 19 as a tribute to Macau-born composer, Doming Lam, on the occasion of his 85th birthday.

A self-taught composer, Lam studied in Canada at the Toronto Conservatory of Music in the early 1950s and later moved into film music and production in California, the United States of America, where he also looked into avant-garde compositional techniques in the 1960s.

Dubbed the Father of Music in Hong Kong, Lam was one of the founders of the Asian Composers’ League in 1973 and founder of the Composers’ and Authors’ Society of Hong Kong.

His first exposure to music was through choirs and singing at his local parish in Macau. The Salesian missionaries recognised his extraordinary ability and sought to nurture his God-given talent.

He spent a short time in the seminary in Macau, but never forgot his love for religious music and is the author of many of the popular Cantonese hymns that are sung on a weekly basis in parishes around Hong Kong and Macau today.

In the presence of Bishop John Tong Hon and the vicar general of the diocese, Father Dominic Chan Chi-ming, Lam was treated to renditions of his own works by four choirs; the Coro Perosi, the Wah Yan College Kowloon Boys Choir, the Festive Chamber and the Diocesan Choir of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong.

For the grand finale of the evening, all four choirs combined, with over 150 voices giving a rendition of Lam’s composition of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Panis Angelicus.

Allison So, the vice president of the Sacred Music Commission in the diocese, gave tribute to Lam saying, “With the Lord’s Prayer, Maestro Doming Lam became popular among Chinese Catholics throughout the world. Being regarded as the father of Hong Kong’s modern music, Maestro Lam uses both traditional and modern musical language in writing sacred music.”

So continued, “This year marks the 85th anniversary of Maestro Lam’s birth. Instead of enjoying his retirement, he carries on writing new compositions and at the same time revising his earlier works written for the Church.”

So offered the heartfelt gratitude of the diocesan music commission, as well as the whole of Hong Kong diocese to Lam for the marvellous contribution that he has made to the prayer life of the Cantonese-speaking Church, as well as lovers of sacred music the world over.

Among his many achievements, Lam has had recitals of his work by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society, worked on music scores for movies, served as a guest conductor, produced 50 television episodes of Music Makers for RTHK, was musical director of the Cultural Institute Macau and composer-in-residence at Hong Kong University.

Since his retirement to Canada in 1994, Three Night Songs of Li-Po was selected and performed at the home of the president in Taiwan and he was named one of the Five Asian Composition Masters on Culture Day in Tokyo, Japan, in 1999.

He has composed 24 hymns, an entire Mass, Magnificat, Te Deum and Requiem for chorus and organ. He also composed a set for the proper, in Cantonese, for High Mass, for voice and organ, as well as music for a Eucharistic Prayer.

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