Austin Yip – Metamorphosis at the HKPhil

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On September 28 and 29 the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Metamorphosis of Austin Yip. This work was premiered on 7 January, 2017, conducted by Aldert Vermeulen in Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. This piece was awarded the Golden Sail Music Award by Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong for the Best Serious Composition in 2017…   

“You’ve done a fantastic job. I think that you orchestrated really well. I think that sometimes for new music I really can not get, but with you, I got immediately in your world… The orchestration is wonderful.” — Jaap van Zweden on the premiere of the work.

Artists often like to develop their works around the concept of “metamorphosis”, but the understanding of “metamorphosis” varies among people. With Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, people often regard the title as the “change of form”, rather than an “improved change” — because the protagonist wakes up one day and realises himself being transformed into a giant insect. Such transformation differs from people’s normal understanding of the term “metamorphosis”, which is often the process to transform something from an immature state to a relatively more mature state. However, Kafka’s protagonist transforms from the family’s support into a gigantic burden in just one night. In the reader’s eyes, it seems as if the title “Metamorphosis” refers more to the transformation of the protagonist’s family, which turns well after the protagonist’s death, rather than the protagonist himself.

This work, entitled “Metamorphosis”, is to be paired up with its Chinese name, “Po Kan”, which literally means “to break through a cocoon”. It depicts the moment of how a troublesome matter resolves, and the short instance right after the process. Similar to how a worm transforms into a cocoon, and then to a butterfly, after the process of metamorphosis, the short instance of beauty gradually changes, and eventually the butterfly faces death. In Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, the protagonist’s family seems to have a bright life after the protagonist dies, but actually, no one knows what happens to them next. Nonetheless, everyone enjoys the moment of the transformation.

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