Chew Hee Chiat
Composer and conductor Chew Hee Chiat has been carving an important niche in Chinese music over the last decade. Currently the Resident Conductor with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, he has been playing an active and diverse role that covers conducting, arrangement and instrumentation for its numerous concerts since he joined the Orchestra in June 2002. Some of the notable occasions include the Opening Rally of the Hong Kong Dizi and Xiao Festival in 2005, in which more than 500 players performed his work, A Celebration of Dizi, under his baton, and the event achieved a new Guinness Book of Records as having the largest number of people playing the dizi at the same time. In May 2008, Chew led the Orchestra’s young artists in the concert Rising Stars of HKCO which highlighted the young and energetic side of the Orchestra and put it in a refreshingly new light.
His involvement in the education and development work of the Orchestra began when he became the conductor of the Hong Kong Junior Chinese Orchestra in 2003. Since then, he has also hosted many bilingual workshops to introduce Chinese music and Chinese instruments to audiences in Hong Kong and other parts of the world. In 2009, when the HKCO became a partner of the YouTube Symphony, Chew won rave response for his arrangement of Tan Dun’s Internet Symphony – Eroica for Chinese orchestra.
Chew took an interest in Chinese music when he was young, and was able to play many types of Chinese musical instruments when he was in secondary school. He received lessons in composition from Saw Boon Kiat of Malaysia and renowned composer Qian Zhaoxi of China before he went to the United States where he graduated from the Southeast Missouri State University with a double bachelor’s degree in cello performance and computer science in 1994. He went on to read a postgraduate course at the University of South Carolina, and was awarded a Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting in 1996. On returning home to Malaysia, he began his career in Chinese music conducting, and was Music Director of the Professional Cultural Center Orchestra (PCCO) of Malaysia. He was widely acclaimed when he guest conducted the Singapore Chinese Orchestra in the concert, A Nanyang Musical Voyage II, in March 2004.
Conducting aside, Chew is an award-winning composer as well. His works have characteristic features that demonstrate his Southeast Asian cultural heritage. He was second runner-up in the International Competition for Chinese Orchestral Compositions 2000 and winner of the Outstanding Composition Award in the Chinese Music Competition 2002 organized by the Council for Cultural Affairs in Taiwan.