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A Night Abroad

Instrumentation: Symphonic Orchestra -

Duration: ca. 8'

Composition Date: 2017.04

Other Version(s): For chamber ensemble

Remark: With sponsorship from CASH Music Fund, the chamber version of this piece is commissioned by Hong Kong Youth Windophilics for 5th Anniversary Concert Series: The Tales of Nature. It has been selected to present in the 34rd Asian Composer League Conference and Festival (2016).

Sample Recording:

A Night Abroad - Symphonic Version (Excerpt) - Royal College of Music Orchestra/Graham Ross

Programme Notes:

Delicate grasses, faint wind on the bank;

stark mast, a lone night boat:

stars hang down, over broad fields sweeping;

the moon boils up, on the great river flowing.

Fame - how can my writings win me that?

Office - age and sickness have brought it to an end.

Fluttering, fluttering — where is my likeness?

Sky and earth and one sandy gull.


Poem by Du Fu (ca. 765)

English translation by Burton Watson (1971)


With a lonely journey to Cambridge at night, the composer recalled the Tang poem by Du Fu, A Night Abroad. And this work attempts to revitalise the content of the original poem with composer’s personal emotions, by building a sound world with pantonal harmonic language and space. As a result, it captures the boundless mood hidden beneath and brings the audience into the poetic scene.


The indeterminate section at the end of the piece is constructed by transforming and desynchronsing the melodic materials and harmonic structure from the beginning sections. This expresses the specious feeling of the poetic context. Ultimately, the work aims to investigate the adoption of contemporary playing techniques with conventional harmonic language.

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