Chew Hee-chiat

Chew Hee Chiat

Assistant Artistic Director and Resident Conductor (From 1 Sept onwards)

Resident Conductor of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (HKCO), Chew plays an active and diverse role that covers conducting, arranging and orchestrating for its numerous concerts since he joined the Orchestra in June 2002. In recent years, Chew is committed to the cross-disciplinary cooperation between Chinese music and other different sectors and media. 

To promote Chinese music to different age groups, Chew has been zealously seeking cooperation with different types of singers. He conducted the ‘Fatherland’ concert (2022) with singer Mischa Ip and Bo Luk, ‘The Trials of Love – A Night of Cantonese Operatic Songs with Lin Yingshi’ (June 2021), ‘Hins Cheung X HKCO’ (November 2021). Chew has also conducted serval fundraising concert with Ms. Liza Wang being the chairperson of the organising committee. In April 2018, Chew conducted the ‘Listening to Nature’ concert, which had brought the music of Malaysia rainforest into Chinese music as the Orchestra invited a Sape master, who was also a traditional dancer, from Malaysia to join the performance, showing the fusion of Chinese music and arts of the world. 

Chew made his debut in The Hong Kong Drum Festival concert in 2007. Since then he has conducted the Festival concerts for over 10 consecutive years. His work Let the Thunder of Drums Roll VII becomes the Festival standard repertoire, which engages the audiences in the performances together with the artists and the Orchestra. In 2010, Chew conducted the world premiere of four works by Hong Kong composers at the outdoor mass concert ‘Cadenzas of Hong Kong’; in 2008, Chew led the Orchestra’s young artists in the concert ‘Rising Stars of HKCO’. Other notable occasions include the Opening Rally of the Hong Kong Dizi and Xiao Festival in 2005, in which more than 500 players performed his work, A Celebration of Dizi, under his baton. The event achieved a new Guinness World Record as having the largest number of people playing the dizi at the same time. He was widely acclaimed when he guest conducted the Singapore Chinese Orchestra in the concert, ‘A Nanyang Musical Voyage II’, in 2004.

Conducting aside, Chew is a renowned and award-winning composer as well. His works have characteristic features that demonstrate his Southeast Asian cultural heritage. His work Harken Back to Zhou is selected as one of the ‘100 Chinese Music Classics Select’ by HKCO. In 2008, when HKCO became a partner of the YouTube Symphony, Chew won rave response for his YouTube commissioned arrangement of Tan Duns’ Internet Symphony – Eroica for Chinese orchestra.  

He was second runner-up in the International Competition for Chinese Orchestral Compositions 2000 (HK) and winner of the Outstanding Composition Award in the Chinese Music Competition 2002 organised by the Council for Cultural Affairs in Taiwan. Chew received lessons in composition from Saw Boon Kiat of Malaysia and renowned composer Qian Zhaoxi of China before he graduated from the Southeast Missouri State University (U.S.) with a double bachelor’s degree in cello performance and computer science in 1994. Subsequently, he completed his Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting from the University of South Carolina in 1996. On returning home to Malaysia, he began his career in Chinese music conducting, and was the Music Director of the Professional Cultural Center Orchestra (PCCO) of Malaysia.

Chew is also committed to the education and perpetuation of Chinse music. Since 2011, Chew has been giving lectures for the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts on Chinese orchestral conducting. In 2003 to 2010, he was the conductor of the Hong Kong Junior Chinese Orchestra. Chew has also hosted many bilingual workshops to introduce Chinese music to audiences in Hong Kong and internationally.