Winner of the Critics' Circle Young Artist Award 2021, Alex Ho (b.1993) is a British-Chinese composer based in London whose music and stage works have been described as 'menacing and poetic' (The Guardian) and a 'remarkable experience' (Schmopera). Ho is Artist-in-Residence at Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier and Associate Composer at Oxford Lieder Festival. His first (anti-)opera, Untold, won the George Butterworth Award 2020 for 'an outstanding new work', and his music theatre piece, Breathe and Draw, was shortlisted for a Scottish New Music Award 2021, lauded as 'a fresh, different idea, that captured the imagination'. He is the recipient of the PRS Composers' Fund 2022 and a BBC Music Magazine Rising Star 2022.
Ho has had pieces performed/commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, BBC Radio 3, Royal Opera House, Het Concertgebouw, National Opera Studio, Music Theatre Wales, London Sinfonietta, Riot Ensemble, Roderick Williams, VOCES8, and National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. His works have featured in venues across the UK, Austria, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, USA and China, on platforms including SoundState Festival (Southbank Centre, London), Sound Unbound (Barbican Centre, London), Hearing China (Shanghai Symphony Hall, Shanghai), O. Festival Rotterdam, nonclassical (London), Cheltenham Music Festival, and BBC Late Junction.
He is co-director of Tangram, a collective of composers and performers of Chinese and western instruments, who are Associate Artists of LSO St Luke's for three seasons until 2024/25. Tangram has been selected for the Royal Philharmonic Society's 2023 Drummond Fund for their production of Alex Ho's stage work Untold, an extended version of which will be premiered in Spring 2023 at Flemish Opera (Ghent, Antwerp) and O. Festival Rotterdam. Alex Ho graduated from Oxford and Cambridge universities and is completing a doctorate at the Royal College of Music with a full AHRC scholarship.
Untold is a new music theatre work by Alex Ho, co-created with Olivier Award-winning choreographer Julia Cheng and premiered in Bruges and Rotterdam in 2023.
Untold is written for 6 performers: counter-tenor, dancer, piano, flute, yangqin and percussion. It tells the 9th century Tang Dynasty story of Ye Xian, a tale with strong similarities to the European fairytale Cinderella. Untold weaves the narrative of Ye Xian with modern-day stories exploring British-Chinese identity, through music and movement.
WATCH: Untold trailer
"an ingenious musical and theatrical dramaturgy… The most exciting moments of the fairy tale are interrupted by the performers' own stories, their experiences of racism, but also of misunderstanding within their own family.... Alex Ho, pianist and conductor, composed the often atonal or Eastern pentatonic, but also evocative and sonorous music. " theater krant, 21 May 2023
“in this award-winning composition, the score ingeniously intertwines two cultures: the timbre is Chinese, whilst the music leans towards the European avant-garde... the musicians go far beyond simply playing their instruments here. They act with graceful gestures, and run and jump with exceptional agility... More than an eye-pleasing, intriguing and convincing performance, most importantly it is deeply moving on a human level.” pzazz theater, 29 April 2023
Alex Ho, piano & Music Director
Jasmine Chiu, dancer
Keith Pun, counter-tenor
Daniel Shao, flute
Joanne Chiang, percussion
Direction & choreography by Julia Cheng
Co-produced by Muziektheater Transparant
"If you know Cinderella, you know Ye Xian. Predating the European fairytale, Ye Xian follows a path familiar to many in search of a place to belong. Untold reveals new twists conjuring to life Ye Xian's story of the transnational journey between and beyond different cultures. Co-created by composer Alex Ho and creative director and choreographer Julia Cheng, Untold weaves together movement and music into an intricate tapestry of colours, sounds, memories, and dreams, imagining a more hopeful future for Ye Xian and those who come after." Alex Ho
Untold is winner of the Fedora Prize 2023.
Duration: 70 minutes
Premiered at: Concertgebouw Brugge All Arias Festival and O. Festival Rotterdam in Spring 2023
Supported by: FEDORA Platform and The Silver Company, Britten Pears Arts, PRS Foundation, RPS Drummond Fund, Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government and Cronos Invest.
Alex Ho interviewed for BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking
In 2022, Alex Ho was interviewed for BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking about Chinese identity in contemporary classical music. His interview begins at 22 minutes.
Alex Ho is co-director with Reylon Yount of Tangram, a London-based music collective growing transnational community by creatively celebrating Chinese cultures. They have been appointed Associate Artists at LSO St Luke's for three seasons, until 2024/25.
Tangram's recent work was described as a ‘dazzling instrumental display’ and ‘at the cutting edge of contemporary debates around identity’ by icareifyoulisten.com.
Alex Ho created anti-opera Untold for Tangram, a stage work which examines the racialised experiences of transnational Chinese communities. Untold explores a theme of ‘not fitting in’ by adapting the Chinese folkstory of Ye Xian, one of the early precursors to the Cinderella fairytale. Future performances are planned in Antwerp, Ghent, Rotterdam and the UK in 2023.
The Critics' Circle
'He combines a coherent individual voice with a breadth of styles, genres and instrumental disciplines, all fired by the spark of his imagination, combining his Chinese heritage and Western Classical form in a compelling and individual way.'
'Purposefully nebulous, refusing to be slotted into any one genre.'