Lesson of Da Ji

Composition Date: 2013
Duration: 00:55:00
Genre: Staged Vocal Works, Operas, Complete Vocal Score


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 2 x Recorder
  • 1 x Percussion
  • 1 x Lute
  • 3 x Ethnic plucked strings
  • 1 x Harpsichord
  • 3 x Soprano
  • 1 x Mezzo Soprano
  • 1 x Tenor
  • 2 x Baritone
  • 1 x Ethnic voice
  • 1 x Violin
  • 1 x Viola
  • 2 x Ethnic bowed strings
  • 1 x Other bowed strings
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Programme Note:
As a composer, I sought to create something that would blend Chinese, Baroque, and Western art forms while bringing legend and dance into a world of music and drama. My interest in Chinese ancient stories, led the famous concubine Da Ji of the Shang Dynasty and an invented tale of her forbidden love affair and the revenge of the jealous King Zhou. The music is inspired by the old Chinese zither, the Guqin, which becomes the instrument of seduction in the opera. In the first scene, the music evolves freely from the 7 notes tuning scales of the Guqin. In the second scene, the entire musical journey is a variation on the ancient Guqin tune “the Drunkard” (dated 220-280: Three Kingdoms Period), which appropriately introduces the dark and lavish banquet where madness is about to happen. Working on the piece also allowed me to explore the links between the European masque tradition and classical Peking Opera. There are many similarities between the two art forms: they both use dramatic makeup or "mask" to portray character, they both use elaborate costume, stylistic movement and vocalization. In the first scene, a Peking opera artist is introduced into the opera to represent the surreal “Dark Moon”, this character brings significant artistic meaning which symbolizes the “Omen” in Chinese culture. The unique instrumentation of the accompanying ensemble has been chosen to showcase the expressive quality of Chinese instruments (pipa, zhongruan, guzheng, and erhu), the elegant sonority of Baroque instruments (lute, recorders, harpsichord, bass viol), the lush Western strings as well as the dramatic use of percussion instruments. My goal was to create a new soundscape that would be fresh to the ears. Lesson of Da Ji is commissioned by Toronto Masque Theatre through the support of Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts, my first collaboration with librettist Marjorie Chan.

Alice Ping Yee Ho

Premiere Information:
Al Green Theatre
10 May 2013
Vania Chan, coloratura soprano; Wiiliam Lau, Peking opera artist; Xin Wang, soprano; Charlotte Corwin, soprano; Marion Newman, mezzo soprano; Derek Kwan, tenor; Alex Dobson, baritone; Benjamin Conway, baritone; Alison Melville, baroque recorders; Lucas Harris, lute; Noam Krieger, harpsichord; Ed Reifel, percussion; Kathleen Kajioka, violin; Elizabeth Loewen Andrews, viola; Justin Haynes, viola da gamba; Wen Zhao, pipa/zhongruan; Patty Chan, erhu/gaohu; Cynthia Qin, guzheng; Larry Beckwith, conductor


  • Call Number:
  • MV 7110 H678le
  • Genre:
  • Staged Vocal Works, Operas, Complete Vocal Score
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • November 7, 2013
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (141 p.) ;
    141 Pages
    Height: 43 cm
    Width: 28 cm
    Parts page count: 418
    Piano Reduction: 91 Pages
    1 piano-vocal score (91 p.) ;
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
    10 parts (available for rental) ([418] p.) ;
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
  • Language Information
  • Main language: English
  • Additional Information:

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The Lesson of Da JiThe Lesson of Da JiCD $13.98
Lesson of Da Ji : Score
(downloadable PDF)
Lesson of Da Ji : Piano Reduction
(downloadable PDF)
Lesson of Da Ji by Alice Ping Yee Ho (Score)
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Lesson of Da Ji by Alice Ping Yee Ho (Piano Reduction)
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