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Huang Ruo Awarded Grand Prize at European International Competition for Composers
By Linda Shockley

 

Huang Ruo at the keyboard
Huang Ruo composes at the keyboard.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOCELYN JUNGERS

 

OCTOBER 16, 1998--Huang Ruo, a junior working toward a double major in composition and music theory, was awarded the Grand Prize in Composition, VI Level Award, at the European International Competition for Composers, held this summer in Ragusa-Ilba, Italy. Huang's works judged for the competition included "SI WAY - - - Four Dimensions" (for three piccolos and conductor), and "If To Live, To*" (for cello solo).

He describes the two winning compositions this way: In "SI WAY - - - Four Dimensions," I've combined Western and Eastern styles of music to explore the natural world through four dimensions, using height as the range, length as the duration, width as the dynamic, and time as both sound and silence. The piece was written for three piccolos that represent the first three dimensions, and a conductor who controls time: the sound and the silence.

"If to Live, To*," for cello solo, was inspired by how I understand and taste life. I wrote it during a time of struggle. I believe that there's always a way to achieve or accomplish something, but it may not always be easy. In this piece, I hope you can hear how struggle sounds, how the effort to move beyond the struggle sounds, and how resolution sounds. Through it all, it's important to have a belief, a faith that the future will bring an understanding of how to face the difficulties. The trick, of course, is to face the struggle and learn from it."

At Oberlin Huang studies with Randolph Coleman, professor of composition, and Benedict Weisser, visiting instructor of composition.

"Ruo is that delightful and rare combination of great talent, discipline, and intensity," says Weisser. "I find his intensity especially remarkable. In my experience as his teacher he has never failed to absorb and fully engage himself in the ideas he's presented with. He does so creatively, with curiosity and purpose. In addition, he always brings a fresh approach so that my perceptions are newly colored as well. He is entirely a pleasure to work with, and he is most deserving of this honor in all respects."

Huang is a native of China; his father is an acclaimed composer, and his mother is a physician. By the age of five he was studying piano and creating new compositions. Huang studied composition with his mentor Deng Erbo at the Middle School, Shanghai Conservatory of Music. He wrote his first symphonic work at age 15--"Expression & Imagination"--a piece that was performed in 1995 by the Shanghai Youth Orchestra at the Spring Festival of Shanghai.

In 1995 Huang was honored with the Henry Mancini Fellowship from the International Film and Music Festival in Switzerland. A CD recording of "If To Live, To*" performed by Alexander Waterman '98 was featured in the March 1998 issue of Layers Magazine. "SI WAY - - - Four Dimensions" will receive its Canadian premiere in November at the Forum 98 Festival in Montreal.