Friday, April 6, 2012

Jerry Hui: composer, conductor, teacher, and lover of music

Jerry Hui talks about music with a pal­pa­ble joy. Utterly down to earth in the face of remark­able suc­cess, Hui—an adjunct instruc­tor for Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies music pro­grams—sim­ply loves shar­ing many kinds of music with the widest pos­si­ble audience.

Hui’s devel­op­ment into a com­poser and choral con­duc­tor has taken a some­what unusual path in that he had no for­mal train­ing in music as a child or teenager. “In high school in Hong Kong I started writ­ing music for some video games that my friends and I were design­ing, which led me to read sev­eral music-theory and music-history books on my own.”

Still, when Hui moved to Wis­con­sin in 1999 it was to study not music but com­puter engi­neer­ing. But under the guid­ance of Jim Aagaard, pro­fes­sor of music at UW-Richland, he quickly found him­self drawn to UW-Madison’s renowned School of Music.

Soon after enrolling at UW-Madison in 2000, he switched from com­puter engi­neer­ing to com­puter sci­ence so he could com­plete a dou­ble major within the Col­lege of Let­ters and Sci­ence. After com­plet­ing his BA, Hui enrolled one sum­mer in the Madi­son Early Music Fes­ti­val.

Finally I had a sum­mer when I didn’t have to worry about a job or a course sched­ule, and I could find out what early music was all about.” Hui’s approach to music would never be the same.

Early music has some­thing for every­one. If you like sacred music, you can find some of the most serene music ever writ­ten. If your tastes lean toward the sec­u­lar, early music has plenty of bawdy songs, too.”

Hui later attended the Uni­ver­sity of Oregon’s grad­u­ate pro­gram in com­po­si­tion and choral con­duct­ing, return­ing from Eugene to Madi­son every sum­mer for the festival.

Over the years I’ve played a num­ber of roles for the fes­ti­val, includ­ing stage man­ager, house man­ager, and audio-video tech­ni­cian. This year for the first time I’ll serve as assis­tant conductor.”

After com­plet­ing his master’s, he moved back to Madi­son to begin the doc­tor of musi­cal arts (DMA) pro­gram. In 2008 Hui, whose own voice can range from bass all the way to alto, founded his own early music ensem­ble on cam­pus, Eliza’s Toyes. The group’s cur­rent con­fig­u­ra­tion fea­tures eight voices, three recorders, and a lute.

We’ve per­formed in some rather unusual venues,” Hui notes, “includ­ing the stacks of Memo­r­ial Library. And in one of my Schola Can­to­rum: Singing Gre­go­rian Chant classes the stu­dents and I sang chant in a stair­well of the Human­i­ties Build­ing, which gave a won­der­fully res­o­nant sound.”

Eliza’s Toyes is one of the fea­tured groups at a spe­cial pre­view of the Early Music Fes­ti­val set for the evening of April 26 at the Chazen Museum of Art. The pre­view includes a lec­ture on the Chazen’s early Amer­i­can col­lec­tion and a recep­tion with per­for­mances by sev­eral School of Music fac­ulty as well as Eliza’s Toyes.

Hui began teach­ing for Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies in 2010 and com­pleted his DMA last year. Along the way he also used his com­puter exper­tise to help Prof. Chelcy Bowles—director of music pro­grams for Con­tin­u­ing Studies—design and develop an online por­tal for the North Amer­i­can Coali­tion for Com­mu­nity Music.

Intended for peo­ple who work with com­mu­nity music groups—from munic­i­pal orches­tras to prison choirs to eth­nic ensembles—the por­tal will make avail­able a wide range of resources on start­ing a group, work­ing with peo­ple who don’t read music, build­ing an audi­ence, and many other top­ics. It goes live this spring.

This win­ter Hui real­ized the dream of many a clas­si­cal com­poser when his opera, Wired for Love, had its world pre­miere. Per­formed in Jan­u­ary at the Carol Ren­nebohm Audi­to­rium of Music Hall, the work allowed Hui to bring together many of the “extremes” of his musi­cal study, from early forms to the most con­tem­po­rary. This com­ing week­end brings yet another mile­stone in Hui’s career: Wired for Love will be recorded for com­pact disc.

Mean­while, Hui con­tin­ues to pre­pare for this year’s Early Music Fes­ti­val. Set for July 7–14, “Wel­come Home Again! An Amer­i­can Cel­e­bra­tion” focuses on early music of our nation and Canada. The musi­cians in res­i­dence will include Anony­mous 4, the most famous early-music ensem­ble in the world, as well as such other nota­bles as The Rose Ensem­ble and New­berry Concert.

One of the inter­est­ing changes this sum­mer is that all the vocal music will be in Eng­lish,” says Hui. “Well, unless we intro­duce some French songs from colo­nial Quebec!”

1 comment:

  1. "But under the guid­ance of Jim Aagaard, pro­fes­sor of music at UW-Richland, he quickly found him­self drawn to UW-Madison’s renowned School of Music."

    Aagaard provided enough guidance for this guy to get far away from UW-Richland and his "music program." Aagaard is a nightmare!