My Unforgettable Experience in Aspen


Young cellist and Lady Fung Music Fellow Thomas Hung (2019 Fellow) is poised to become a brilliant musician. By the age of eight, Thomas already obtained his ABRSM Grade 8 Certificate in cello. Thomas is trained under the tutelage of Professor Ray Wang at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Now in his final year, Thomas aspires to become an outstanding soloist. In 2019, he received an ACC fellowship to attend the renowned Aspen Music Festival and School, and he shares his experience during his time there.

Established in 1998, the Lady Fung Music Fellowship has nurtured many homegrown musicians in the early stages of their careers, many of whom still continue to empower communities through music to this day. Notable alumni include conductor Lio Kuok Man, pianist Vanessa Wong, oboist Bobby Cheng, mezzosoprano Carol Lin, to name a few.

With the generous support of ACC, I had the opportunity of attending the notable Aspen Music Summer Festival and School in 2019. Through the experience, an extensive course of music training has been provided. From solo to orchestras, every second has been well planned by the festival. Therefore, I had a taste of the professional musician lifestyle before turning into one.

The two core elements that attract me are dedication and passion.

The two elements are not conflicting and show a strong cohesion. From the 8-week program in Aspen, there was nothing much to do besides music. The atmosphere itself isolated us from the world, in a good way. It was hard to find a place without TV or internet signal in Hong Kong, but it was a common scenario in Aspen. At first, we all were being “forced” to practise. But after hours, days, weeks… the force of nature comes in, and most of us do meals, rehearsals, and practicing as a normal cycle. The more we explore and focus, the more we learn from ourselves. My teacher in the first half-session was a professor in Kansas, Michael Mermagen. He showed his passion not only in cello, he spent most of his time learning classical and contemporary music that was not about the cello. He believed that inspiration can be transferred through a different perspective. And my teacher in the second half-session was Brinton Averil Smith, the principal cellist of the Houston Symphony orchestra, he spent most of his free time trying out different repertoire that was composed for other instruments on his cello. Some things may perhaps seem impossible to play, but he thrived in it.

And I believe that is a point where dedication and passion meet. It is somewhere we feel the things we are doing are not a cycle, yet in its nature. And through the experience, I have learned more than just cello!

Click below to listen to Thomas' rendition of the Cello Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010: I. Prélude by Johann Sebastian Bach

Photo courtesy of Thomas Hung