Chan Wei Tuck and Jessica Cho win Free Hand 2022 awards

Free Hand 2022 made an exciting return to UCSI University on 25 June, 2022 and nine composers had their works performed by nine members of the UCSI faculty, alumni and students.

The evening opened with Ainolnaim Azizol’s Berlabuh, an evocative free-style sonic painting played by Ho Su San to a backdrop of natural sounds recorded by the composer. Young student Nicole Ong gave us a series of Piano Variations on a Beethovenian theme, delivered by Chen Jay Hou with beautiful lyricism.

Rayner Naili explored alternately violent and deeply disturbing gestures with his Secluded Voice, given a muscular reading by Lee Ying Jie. Fairuz Zamani’s Two Miniatures weaved poetic beauty and rhythmic drive around a set of semitones, given a beautiful and exciting performance by Yee Ke-Jin.

Chan Wei Tuck’s Contemplation took the listener on various paths with little surprises around each corner, and was given a searching and animated performance by Maxy Chan. 

Tai Yun Ming’s deeply personal Turning Into Stars was both an outer exploration of stellar expression and an internal journey into the painful challenges that had confronted her grandparents, and was given a wonderfully touching performance by Chee Su-Yen.

Johan Othman’s Four bagatelles offered deep philosophical insights into the brief impermanence of things with its three fleeting early movements and a more sprawling final bagatelle, with Ho Su San finding a lovely dance lilt especially in the latter..

Jessica Cho’s short study Arrhythmia presented an array of rhythmic challenges for the pianist, which was wonderfully delivered by young Tian Zi Yan with lots of attitude and energy especially in the final bars.

The evening concluded with ZhiYong Tan’s quirky Sad Fact, which saw teacher-student pair Ysan Suit Yin and Esther Grace Fanggara delighting in its eccentricities. 

Ysan presented the movement Zzzz with mock seriousness, while Fanggara got the lion’s share of the work in the frantic final movement Noooo!! with its exciting bursts of rhythm, angry clusters and unpredictable changes of tempo.

The judges Mei Yi Foo, Kevin Field and Adeline Wong had a tough task in front of them to pick the two winners for the evening, and finally settled for Chan Wei Tuck, who would be commissioned to write a piece for the senior category, and Jessica Cho for the Young Artist category.

Their commissions will be presented at the UCSI piano competition later this year. Here’s looking forward to the next Free Hand Festival!

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