Melissa Hui was born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, Canada. She received her D.M.A. from Yale University and M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts. Her mentors include Jacob Druckman, Earl Kim and Mel Powell. Initially inspired by the haunting music of the African pygmies and Japanese gagaku court orchestra, she strives to create a personal music of ethereal beauty, intimate lyricism, and raucous violence. Her commissions include works for the Oregon Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Kronos Quartet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, New Millennium Ensemble and Essential Music (NYC), Ensemble Antipodes (Switzerland), Dogs of Desire (of Albany Symphony), Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, New Music Concerts (Toronto), the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and the Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec (Montréal), Melody of China/Citywinds (San Francisco), Tapestry New Opera Works, and a soundtrack for the Oscar-nominated documentary, Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square. Her works have been performed throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, including performances by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, California EAR Unit, Esprit Orchestra (Toronto), Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, and at International Gaudeamus Music Week (Amsterdam), ISCM festivals in Switzerland and Croatia, Théatre de la Ville (Paris), Festival Sons d’Hiver (France), Merkin Hall, Focus Festival, and Music at the Anthology in New York City, Festival Internacional Cervantino (Mexico), Pacific Music Festival (Japan), Spoleto Festival, and L.A. Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series, among others. She is a founding member of the Common Sense Composers Collective. Her compositions have been released on CRI, UMMUS, Santa Fe New Music, Nisapa and Centredisc, including a CD of her solo and chamber works in 2006. Current projects include commissioned works for Ensemble Sospeso (NYC) and an oratorio based on a Cree myth with librettist Tomson Highway for Soundstreams Canada. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship (1997) and a Fromm Foundation commission (2000) as well as numerous grants and awards that include the Grand Prize of both the CBC and du Maurier/WSO Young Composers Competitions in Canada and finalist at the International Gaudeamus competition in Amsterdam. Now living in Montreal, she was a member of the composition faculty at Stanford University from 1994-2004.
What did the Fellowship or Laureate mean to you at the time you received it?
Beyond the appreciation for my art, the Fellowship allowed me to devote more time and energy to thinking, dreaming, creating and fulfilling my vision.
What do you do now? Has your art evolved or changed?
I continue to compose and teach, having joined the composition faculty at McGill University in Montreal in 2010. My art has continually evolved in subtle ways, sometimes in ways that I would not have expected.
What is one piece of advice you would give to an emerging artist?
Have the courage to find your own voice and the passion to keep pushing boundaries!
Briefly, how would you describe the state of the arts locally, as well as national and beyond?
Diverse, dynamic, evocative, urgent, hidden.