Stephen Yip was born in Hong Kong and lives in the United States. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts at Rice University and Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, studying with Law Wing-­fai, Clarence Mak, and Arthur Gottschalk. He has attended major music festivals including the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Aspen Music Festival, the Asian Composers’ League, the ISCM World Music Days, the Chinese Composers’ Festival, the IMPULS Ensemble Akademie, and the International Summer Course for New Music. Residencies include the Atlantic Centre for the Arts, Yaddo Colony, and MacDowell Colony.

Stephen’s works have been performed in Asia, Europe, and America. He has received several composition prizes, including the “Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award,” “Taiwan Music Center International Composition Prize,” “Robert Avalon International Prize,” “Singapore International Composition Competition for Chinese Orchestra,” the ALEA III composition Competition, and the 2010 Alvarez Chamber Orchestra Freestyle Composition Competition in London. His works are featured on the ERM-Media, Navona Records, Capstone, North South recording, Ablaze records, ATMA Classique, and Beauport Classical labels.

Today, Stephen is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover Stephen’s hopes for his recent release…

What inspires you to write and/or perform?

I’m inspired by natural sound, all other art forms (visual, painting, sculpture, craft or contemporary installation), cultural philosophy or aesthetic, and color.

Tell us about your first performance.

I don’t remember, but it was a very long time ago when I was little.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

I would still be composing.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

Anyone who is eager to work with me. But I am open to working with anyone in different art areas.

What advice do you have for young musicians?

For composers, I would say to always be creative and innovative, to explore new paths and to not follow other people’s steps. For performers, always learn new performing techniques, perform and premiere new works, and learn and work with composers to create new sounds, new techniques, and new music

If we looked through your music library, what would we be surprised to find?

I’m not very interested in old stuff, and I always need new material, ideas, books, scores, and music. For me, old stuff is only for reference and education purposes. As a artist, I always engage in creating new art forms.

Do you have any specific hopes about what this album will mean to listeners?

I hope this album helps more audiences listen to contemporary music. My hope is for new music to become standard repertoire, and that even society will earnestly start to look for new music to perform and broadcast, and that they will commission more and more composers for new and creative works. Finally, my hope is for most people to have their own, innovative way in their living, and that the commercial becomes more artistic. Just walking on the street, one could be able to see many different creative arts, and people living with better taste.

How have your influences changed as you grow as a musician?

My influences have been changing all the time as I learn and know new things everyday.

What were your first musical experiences?

Maybe listening to radio when I was very little, then buying LP records and shopping at record shops for special, alternate, and non-mainstream music. As a kid, I was always trying to create new sound and make new noises. I also remember one of the first performances I had, with my first time playing organ at church when I was a kid

How do you prepare for a performance?

Practice, practice, and practice…..

Where and when are you at your most creative?

Anywhere and anytime.

What are your other passions besides music?

Visual arts, painting, and enjoying nature.

Who are your musical mentors?

When I was at school, my mentors were Arthur Gottschalk, Pierre Jalbert, Ellsworth Milburn, Wing-fai Law, and Clarence Mak. After I graduated up until now, I have mostly learned from the younger ones.


WHISPERING FRAGRANCE is now available through Navona Records for streaming or purchase. Click here to explore this new album.