Chia-Yu Hsu has won the Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composer’s Awards, a 2013 IAWM Search for New Music prize, a Copland House Residency Award, the Sorel Organization’s 2nd International Composition Competition, the 7th USA International Harp Composition Competition, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the Maxfield Parrish Composition Contest, the Renée B. Fisher Foundation Composer Awards, a Brown Foundation Fellowship, and a Camargo Foundation Fellowship. Her work has been performed by the London Sinfonietta, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Nashville Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan, the Aspen Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, Ciompi Quartet, and Prism Quartet.
Chiayu Hsu’s travel bags are seeing a lot of action. In April she heard her Hard Roads in Shu performed by the Detroit and San Francisco Symphonies. The Charlotte Civic Orchestra will perform Hard Roads in Shu next spring as the First Prize Winner of the Orchestra’s Composer Competition. Last May brought a trip to New York City, where her Fantasy on Wang Bao Chuan won a place among the American Composers Orchestra’s annual Underwood New Music Readings. Fantasy was commissioned by the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan, and will premiere with that Orchestra during Spring, 2008.
Hsu’s solo harp piece, Huan, received performances by Chia-Yuan Liang in New York City and Taiwan, and was featured as semi-finalist repertoire for the USA International Harp Competition. Hsu also saw more of her work recorded—Natalie Zhu’s solo piano CD Images included Among Gardens, inspired by Hsu’s experience of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Duke’s West Campus.
Since August Hsu has been engrossed in a new project. Choreographer Keith A. Thompson selected Hsu to compose for his new piece commissioned by Duke’s Program in Dance, entitled “Pellucid Tensions.” Hsu’s collaboration with Thompson began in August when Thompson spent a week at Duke and began choreography. Hsu said she sat in on his choreography sessions: “I observed how he came up with his movements…[and] analyzed the movements for inspiration for musical ideas…”
September brought extensive compositional revisions in the ever- evolving piece. Thompson returned to Duke for another 10-day intensive—the Duke undergraduate dance troupe learned the piece during that time, rehearsing extensively every day but one. Rehearsals also revealed moments in the piece where music had to be recomposed to fit the timing of the choreography. In one case, an entire movement was reconstructed because of changes in the choreographer’s creative direction. Hsu explained that the tripartite second movement originally opened and closed with a tango that surrounded a middle waltz section. During rehearsal Hsu found out that Thompson decided to make the middle section a tango, too—consequently, an entire three-minute section had to be re-composed virtually overnight.
“November Dances 2007,“ featuring Hsu’s work with Thompson, took place November 17-18 in Reynolds Theater on Duke’s West Campus.