CLASSICAL MUSIC AND SOUND EFFECTS
Primarily known for his acoustic investigations, sound drawings and muted concert experiences, Hong Kong composer and multidisciplinary artist, Samson Young, strives to reinvent classical music and sound effects.
“With an element of humour, Young prompts audiences to focus on what is often overlooked or ignored and to question the essence of the music and the collective ambition,” read a statement by the M+ Museum in Hong Kong.
Young’s works span a breadth of disciplines – from sound installations to live performances and even a short film. It shows his versatility in using auditory elements to explore different creative worlds.
Excerpts from Muting Expectations: Samson Young's Love of Classic Music and Sound Effects on Sound of Life.
MUTED SITUATION #22: MUTED TCHAIKOVSKY’S 5TH (2018)
Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th is a 12-channel sound installation and a concert experience where the artist invited the Flora Symphony Orchestra Cologne to play Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony silently and without activating their instruments, thus silencing the foreground. By doing so, attendees experienced the sounds that typically pass unnoticed in the background, like the shuffling of the sheet music and the musicians' breathing. The work is part of the ongoing project, and it was the 22nd – and most famous – iteration.
For this 2015 sound piece and live performance, Young investigates the acoustics of warfare by collecting video recordings of various worldwide night bombings and compiling them into a six-hour-long video. Young uses a medley of household objects like electric shavers and a glass bottle and instruments like an ocean drum to reenact the audio with his own musical score. He then broadcasts the sound effects – which turned out to be an eerie but enjoyable symphony – via FM radio transmission.
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS (2015)
Samson Young took a two-month journey across five continents in a field research trip to record an archive of bell sounds. His stops included bells in Mandalay in Myanmar, Fez in Morocco, Cantal in France, and more. According to the artist, “the auditory coverage of bells defines territories, separating one community from another along cultural, religious, or ideological fault lines.”
SONGS FOR DISASTER RELIEF (2017)
The artist represented Hong Kong during the 57th edition of the Venice Biennale in 2017 with “Songs for Disaster Relief”. This is a four-room show that included drawings, objects, video, spatial sound installations, and site-specific works investigating the legitimacy of the charity single – that is pop songs released for disaster fundraising like Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?.
SONATA FOR SMOKE (2021)
Young developed the 15:49 min short film Sonata For Smoke (2020, revised 2021) during his residency at the Ryosoku-in Temple in Kyoto, Japan, a short film that focuses on recording the “noise” of smoke and capturing its ephemeral nature.