2019 Honorary Doctorate
Born in Macau in 1926, Mr Doming Lam was one of the founding executives of the Asian Composer’s League (ACL). The ACL called for protection of composers’ rights and for greater emphasis of Asian cultural roots in contemporary regional music, as well as establishing festivals and conferences for composer organisations from more than ten countries in the Asia-Pacific region. He served as Chairman of the Hong Kong Section of the ACL from 1973 to 1983, when music exchange activities between Asian cities and the International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM) were established.
Mr Lam took part in the subsequent establishment of a composers’ union, reforming the ACL-HK as the Hong Kong Composers’ Guild in 1983, and was appointed Honorary President of the Guild. He also advocated the establishment of the Composers and Author’s Society of Hong Kong (CASH) to protect performing rights. For many years, Mr Lam served as Founding Council Director of CASH and Secretary General of the ACL.
Mr Lam’s drive for international exchange and understanding helped put Hong Kong on the international contemporary music map through participation in many important events and organisations, including the ISCM, the ACL, the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, Gaudeamus Music Week and Darmstadt Summer Courses.
As a composer, Mr Lam has also made significant breakthroughs. From the 1960s onwards, his artistic objective has been to create a kind of new Chinese music by applying contemporary techniques to traditional roots. “Search for roots in tradition. Find ways in the avant-garde” is the motto that summarises his compositional direction. He pioneered the establishment of a new genre of contemporary orchestral music for Chinese orchestra with his works Insect World and Autumn Execution, which have provided inspiration to generations of younger composers and musicians. His thoughts have influenced many of his contemporaries and younger composers. Mr Lam has received numerous commissions and his music has been performed in over 50 cities around the world.
A talented broadcaster and television producer, Mr Lam produced many award-winning programmes on music and the arts. He was the producer of two popular pioneering classical music programmes on Rediffusion Television, namely, Rediffusion Concert and The Youth Club, in the 1960s. He was also the Director of the RTHK TV programme Music Makers, whose first edition, called Academy, was broadcast in July 1986, featuring an interview with the first Director of the Academy, Dr Basil Deane.
Mr Lam is also an academic, serving as visiting artist and conductor at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and Composer-in-Residence at The University of Hong Kong. Mr Lam was also the Founding Music Director of the then Macau Chamber Orchestra and Music Director of the Hong Kong Children’s Choir for many years. He also composed church music and his Lord’s Prayer is the most popular version within the Cantonese Catholic community. This hymn was sung in front of Pope Francis in 2015. An all-rounder and a dedicated musician, his life-long work has been catalogued in the 2001 edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Having initiated contacts with the ISCM in the 1980s, in 1988 Mr Lam organised the first ISCM World Music Days Festival in Asia in Hong Kong. He was Artistic Director of the Festival, during which composers from the Mainland were put in contact with the rest of the world for the first time. Most of the Festival concerts were held at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts with the involvement of School of Music faculty and students. Mr Lam has always been a staunch supporter of both the Academy and the School of Music, inspiring generations of young musicians. He has on several occasions been visiting artist of the Composition Department of the School and frequently gives advice to teachers and students, assisting the development of the Department. In two concerts held at the Academy, one in 1999 featuring his early music and the other in 2011 celebrating his 85th birthday, Mr Lam worked with faculty, graduates and students of the Department, providing guidance on interpretation and performance.
To honour Mr Lam’s internationally remarkable in the field of contemporary music, he was elected an Honorary Member of the ISCM in 2007. Locally, he is known as “The Father of New Music in Hong Kong” because of his phenomenal contributions to the local music industry.