With applications for LSO Soundhub 2019/20 closing at 1pm on Monday 1 July, we catch up with Alex Ho, who tells us about his year on the scheme, and gives his advice to those applying for next year.
What has been the most important lesson you have learnt during your year on LSO Soundhub?
My biggest takeaway from the scheme is that composition does not have to be a lonely process. When coming up with and developing ideas, people are much more willing to help if they can than I realised. Whether it is players checking if something is possible to play, or friends willing to listen and critique ideas about the piece, there is support out there!
Can you describe your year on LSO Soundhub in three words?
Supported, exciting, collaborative.
How valuable do you think LSO Soundhub has been and will be to your career and future?
LSO Soundhub has been hugely valuable to my career, not least by allowing me to realise a project that would otherwise be very difficult organise! Writing for an ensemble of both Chinese and western instruments is relatively unusual in the new music scene in the UK, and I am hugely fortunate to have been able to for this scheme. My work as a composer revolves around exploring cross-cultural spaces between Chinese and western cultures, and so this project has really helped me understand better how this area can be examined musically which will undoubtedly affect my music in the future.
A playlist of contemporary classical music by composers of Chinese heritage, curated by Alex Ho.
What advice would you give to the next four composers?
To the next four composers on Soundhub, I would advise thinking hard about how you would like to use rehearsal time. There is a great deal of flexibility with when you can rehearse your work ahead of the performance, and so there is the opportunity to have an early rehearsal or 'workshop' so you can try ideas, particularly if the piece is trying something new! It's definitely a balance to strike, but you do not have to use every rehearsal at the end just to get the performance in shape. The performance will be amazing anyway because the players are incredible!
And what advice would you give to contemporary composers who are starting off their career?
For composers early in their career, I would advise them to learn to be proactive about getting opportunities to have your music performed as early as possible. Don't rely only on opportunities given to you at university/conservatoire. Look further, collaborate with friends, reach out to people whose work you respect, and be aware of what opportunities are out there and apply to them. Also do not be afraid of rejection! Every artist, not least me, will have gone through ups and downs. As long as you believe that you have something to contribute, keep at it. Lastly, look around you, allow everything you see and hear to affect the way you think about composition, music, art, and society!
Alex Ho's Rituals and Resonances will be performed in a Free Friday Lunchtime Concert on Friday 19 July, and his piece Spiralling Scrolls, devised through LSO Soundhub, will be premiered on Saturday 20 July at the Soundhub Showcase: Phase I 2019.
Applications for the LSO Soundhub scheme 2019/20 are now closed.