Hsin-Lei Chen

About the Piece

Instrumentation: Full Orchestra: 23(2+EH)22-4221 timp, strings
Duration: 12 min

Program Note from the composer:

Prayer on a theme of J. S. Bach’s Chaconne

This is a commission from University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music in 2020, and completed and premiered in 2021.

There two years are very different for the whole world because of we all know covid-19. Many people lost a lot.

I quoted J. S. Bach’s Chaconne which he composed for the lost of his wife. I depict a journey of war, the process of being defeated and restlessly trying to fight back. Did we win? The work does not have a concussion, however, it tells us with the chorale at the very end, we gain peace.

Inner Peace.

Conductor’s Perspective

This work has its challenges with the juxtaposed sections of different rhythmic patterns, melodic groups, tonalities, etc. but is really powerful when done right. Based on the Chaconne theme by Bach, she used modern languages to re-imagine and re-construct the traditional form and gave it new colors through reflections of the pandemic. A piece that will work well with advanced groups.

About the Composer

A native of Taipei, Taiwan, the young rising composer and columnist of Muzik Taiwan, Hsin-Lei Chen received her Bachelor degree from National Taipei University of the Arts (NTUA) studying Composition with Prof. Hung, Chung-Kuen. She studied her Master’s in composition from College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati (CCM) with Prof. Michael Fiday, Prof. Mara Helmuth and Prof. Joel Hoffman. While still a student at NTUA and CCM, Chen has composed numerous instrumental and vocal works for various ensembles, among which Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Deep made finalist in the 2004 Formosa Competition held by the Council of Cultural Affairs in Taiwan. In 2007, her orchestral work, Ebb and Flow, won ERM Media’s competition and recorded by Kiev Philharmonic. Chamber orchestral work, “Renaissance” won a composition competition of National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra.

Her works have been widely performed in major concert halls including National Concert Hall and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei, Werner Hall in Cincinnati, Carnegie Performing Art Center’s Weill Hall in New York, Sam Sung Music Hall in Seoul, as well as National Performing Art Center in Beijing.

In 2014, Taipei Philharmonic commissioned her a choral piece, which will be published and performed in Hungarian International Choral Festival; New Art Agent commissioned her a violin concerto and a flute concerto to be recorded and release an album and performed in Taiwan National Music Hall. Her most recent work Four Seasons of Tree for piano quintet will be performed by MYX’D quartet in Luxembourg Music Festival 2022.

Performance Materials

● Score and parts can be obtained through the composer (click for email)


Recording on YouTube by the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra conducted by Chaowen Ting (a non-major all-campus orchestra)