Dr. George Lam
Associate Professor
Theory and Musicianship
Office: AST816
Tel.: 3411 7595

I am a composer who grew up in both Hong Kong and Winthrop, Massachusetts. I am currently Associate Professor at HKBU’s Department of Music, and have previously taught at York College, The City University of New York. I am also a founding member of the artist-run new opera ensemble Rhymes With Opera.

In my work as a composer, I am primarily interested in the idea of musical placemaking, which is to create music that is intimately connected with the place where it is performed and heard. Such projects include a site-specific opera in 2011 inspired by former cigarette factories in Durham, North Carolina, as well as a concert band work in 2017 based on scenes from the town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, performed by students who live in the town. My latest musical placemaking project, titled The Emigrants, was commissioned by the cello-percussion duo New Morse Code. This work includes collected oral history recordings from various emigrant musicians living or working in Queens, New York City, one of the most ethnically diverse urban areas in the world. In these interviews, I focus on how the experience of leaving home has shaped the musicians’ identities and why they have chosen to stay. The recorded speech is interwoven with instrumental music, blurring the lines between recorded reality and its musical representation. As a result, I explore how the absence of a visual record can create space for an aural and musical documentary form. The Emigrants was supported by grants from CUNY and the Queens Council on the Arts. The work was first performed at the Queens Museum on December 8, 2018, and was released as a digital recording in 2020.

As the 2018 Composer-in-Residence for the Chautauqua Opera Company, I created two works for voice and piano (Sissieretta Jones, Carnegie Hall, 1902 / O patria mia on a poem by Tyehimba Jess; Such Sweet Sorrow on a poem by Allison Joseph) and a new work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (Underwater Acoustics on a poem by Rajiv Mohabir). My recent operas include the 2018 collaborative opera Rumpelstiltskin, created with co-composer Ruby Fulton and librettist John Clum, as well as the 2015 one-act opera Heartbreak Express also with a libretto by John Clum.

Personal Website: https://www.gtlam.com

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