"Tang’s [City of Transition] was the most satisfying … with its sense of organic growth and well-defined character."
- Sam Olluver, South China Morning Post
Below are excerpts from each of the four movements:
City of Transition
for clarinet, sheng, pipa and string quartet (original version) (15')
I. Tram Depot on a Cold Night
II. Wooden Clogs
III. An Old Colonial Building
IV. Images of Hong Kong
City of Transition was originally written for clarinet/bass clarinet, sheng, pipa and string quartet, and it pays tribute to poet Ya Si (Leung Ping Kwan, 1949-2013).
The titles of the four movements are taken from the corresponding titles of Ya Si's poems, which capture vivid everyday life in Hong Kong. The first movement, "Tram Depot on a Cold Night" depicts a lonely tram in a bleakly cold night. The timbre of the strings was inspired from the squeaky sounds of the wheels of the tram on tracks. The second movement, "Wooden Clogs" is a fast and rhythmic piece, which portrays Ya Si's memories of walking with a pair of clogs on Ladder Street and seeing and hearing everyday objects such as clothes poles vending and scissors grinding. The third movement, "An Old Colonial Building" is a steady and nostalgic piece for an old colonial building being tearing down. The final movement, "Images of Hong Kong" is a fast-paced movement corresponding to the montage of images and the sentiment of instability in the transitional time and space as if the city is approaching its end of time.
City of Transition was commissioned by the 2014 Hong Kong Arts Festival and is sponsored by the CASH Music Fund. The piece was premiered on March 21 and 22, 2014 at City Hall Theatre by Cathy Wong (pipa), Pang Hong-tai (sheng), Leung Chi-shing (clarinet), Kitty Cheung (violin), Kiaan Chow (violin), Ringo Chan (viola), and Eric Yip (cello).
A string quartet version of the piece is also available here.