Scroll down to see new additions 23 Nov, & 5, 24 Dec 2019
Music is Happiness is a CD of my music, and a 64-page book written and designed by me containing related stories, poems and illustrations. The music is performed by excellent musicians.
A brief description of the music:
CD Book is available for download above.
Magic Banyan Tree (CD Track 11): Music for family enjoyment.
CD Book pages 42-46, .
Bulldozers (CD Track 10): In the style of Western Classical music.
Four Love Songs in Chinese (CD Tracks 2-5): Poems and music.
CD Book pages 16-21,
Sakura Variations (CD Track 1): Baroque-Japanese Cherry Blossom.
CD Book pages 13-15, ,
To You (CD Track 5): Song without words with Indian music influence.
Permutation, Tai Chi, Farewell my beloved (CD Tracks 3,4,9):
A taste of contemporary Classical music.
Promotional Materials (click image to enlarge)
Music is Happiness
CD & book
If you would like a free copy please use "" page
NEW: 6th Nov 2019
Complete Comments on Music is Happiness by J D Morley
I received the following 28 Oct 2007 email from John David Morley after sending my CD & book Music is Happiness to him:
Serendipitous! At just this moment I was about to write to you about your music.
Now, I found all of these pieces very interesting and enjoyable to listen to. I would not select any particular one as a favourite. The selection is good because it presents such a varied scope of musical intentions.
There is a lot to say. The first is about the qualities I associate with your music from the impression of all eleven pieces.
Strong, with clear lines, decisive, most dramatic - I understand how you have become involved with ballet - intelligent, and well, yes, possessing a kind of masculinity, perhaps surprising in view of the romantic and quite feminine lyricism of the accompanying texts. My one criticism is the obsoleteness of the language in which these texts have been written. You should be using a modern idiom, in accordance with the more modern idiom of the music that the texts accompany.
These last two qualities, namely of intelligence and masculinity, I associate with two other well-known Chinese women I have met in the course of my life. One is Han Su Yin. The other is Margaret Leng Tan. Both are strong women, so I guess that in the course of your life, having begun as anything but a strong person, you have become one. You must have grown and matured in ways you could not possible have foreseen yourself. (Ho Wai-On: Though I know of her, I don’t know the late Chinese-born Eurasian author Han Suyin 韓素音 personally, yet once I happened to sit opposite her on a London Underground train and was captivated by her striking features. As for the Singapore-Chinese pianist Margaret Leng Tan 陳靈, I met her once when I was in New York, and remember her big hands. I am almost certain I went to her London recital some time after that, where she performed unusual music – probably including music for prepared piano.)
The effect in almost all cases is that of a dramatic performance. The drama is foremost. There is urgency in this music. Making it has mattered to the composer. Listening to it matters to the audience. Thank you for giving me a chance to hear it.
With best wishes,
J D Morley then sent the following email to comment further:
The effect of the lyrics is like reading the translation of something written (perhaps in Chinese?) long ago. If this is what you intend, please ignore the following.
Some of the words are archaic: "alas", " 'neath" are examples. The main problem, however, is that you are using a Romantic idiom that was characteristic of poetry written in the early to late nineteenth century.
Examples: bitter sweetness of love, so wretched and sorrowful, ghostly echoes, I sheathe the sword of my aggression, reminiscing a wonderful yesterday, and so on.
There are also many clichés:
deserting in droves, tasted defeat, stares him in the face, weave its magic, weaving a spell.
Your lyrics constantly make use of tropes (figures of speech) that have been employed by so many generations of poets that they have become limp and exhausted. Examples: cherry blossom, dream and illusion, petals, sorrow, moon, shadow, yearning and so on.
In short, you are not creating language anew, you are using a dead language, and thus giving expression to dead feelings, however alive your own feelings may seem to you to be.
How to do something about this? Read modern poetry, beginning with some of the lyrics written as early as the 1930s by Auden, women poets such as Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, and why not some of the personal (as opposed to political and social-critical) songs of Bob Dylan. You have to heave yourself in one go into the 21st century, and that will not be easy to accomplish.
"That is a man" was said by Napoleon on meeting Goethe, although he naturally said it in French (Ho Wai-On: this was his response to my telling him as a child in Hong Kong, the very first English sentence I learned in school was “This is a man”, and I have never come across an opportunity to use this sentence.)…
I wish you luck with your next ventures,
All the best,
I produced Music is Happiness after surviving cancer for the second time and it was issued under my childhood name, Ann-Kay Lin. The following are comments from people in the arts and cultural circles; from medical professionals and fellow patients; pupils and their parents; and friends and acquaintances.
From a composer, a film director, and a novelist:
“Ann-Kay Lin (aka Ho Wai-On) is a multi-talented artist who has the virtue of straddling two major cultures, East and West, both from a profound knowledge. Her musical work is very direct and speaks clearly to what must be a considerable audience. There is undoubtedly a need for such well-crafted, delightful, fresh and imaginative work today.”
− Jonathan Harvey, composer; Prof. Emeritus Stanford University; Hon Fellow, St. John's College, Cambridge University.
“I enjoyed every piece. I admire the remarkable intertwining of traditions and styles, and especially the way the Eastern elements contribute to the huge emotional impact of the music. The narrations stimulate the imagination – the book is fascinating throughout”
– Brian Gilbert, film director of WILDE, TOM & VIV, THE GATHERERING.
“I found all these pieces very interesting and enjoyable to listen to. The selection is good because it presents a varied scope of musical intentions. Strong, with clear lines, decisive, most dramatic, intelligent, and well, yes, possessing a kind of masculinity, perhaps surprising in view of the romantic and quite feminine lyricism of the accompanying texts. The effect in almost all cases is that of a dramatic performance. The drama is foremost. There is urgency in this music. Making it has mattered to the composer. Listening to it matters to the audience.”
– John David Morley, author of PICTURES FROM THE WATER TRADE.
Click blue square on R to view Music Web Review
in PDF format.
Click blue square at bottom R to view New PDF 20 Nov comments from:
Andrew Breaks – Visitor Operations, British Museum
Derek Foster – composer
James Iliff – composer & professor of harmony at The Royal Academy of Music
(my composition professor)
Two from John Maver – composer & fellow patient
Peter Renshaw – Gresham Professor of Music emeritus
Professor R D Rubens – Guy's Hospital
Malcolm Singer – composer, conductor, Director of Music emeritus Yehudi Menuhin School & professor at Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Esther Wershof – pupil
Kim Wilson – pupil & Montessori Pre-School proprietor
Jonathan (librarian) & Olga Woolf (pupil)
... and more.
Updated 5 & 24 Dec
Here's what people have been saying about it...
Clark Ainsworth (BBC London)
I've played it many times and have enjoyed what I've heard.
Mark Argent (composer/cellist/editor/designer...)
The CD sounds super – Ann-Kay should be very proud of it.
Dr Uli Bommer (bio-chemist, University of London lecturer & researcher)
I like it – the music and the book. Interesting stuff!
Albert Tang 鄧兆楷 (architect/artist, studied piano with Peter Katin)
FAREWELL MY BELOVED – Impression of An Opera (CD Track 9): I feel an instant rapport with this piece mainly due to my Chinese opera orientated childhood and background. It is really quite courageous and ingenious of Ann-Kay (i.e. Ho Wai-On) to interpret this famous drama with only a single instrument – the clarinet. The range of the instrument was fully explored so as to depict the two extreme characters namely, the strong and powerful Xian Yu the Conqueror and the intimate and serene Lady Yu. Listening to the work, I could almost visualise the robust facial expressions and gestures of Xian Yu, complimented by the elegant and serene movements of Lady Yu, not to mention the dramatic dialogues exchanged. The application of subtle percussive effect adds to the tension of the drama and is well executed, although a more dramatic and crescendo built-up towards the suicidal finale would be most desirable.
was TO YOU (CD Track 8): The sitar-like introductory scale, beautifully played on the piano, sends an instant chill to my spine due to its authentic portrayal of the instrument. The yearning melodic lines of the voice, echoed tenderly by the delicate piano compliment, can also be heard, from time to time, treading closely behind the piano like a shadow, with occasional rhythmic punctuation chords resembling the Indian tabla. It is indeed an extremely innovative, sensuous and hypnotic piece of music which I couldn't help listening to endlessly. I like every piece and listen to the CD almost daily. The concept of the CD book is excellent.
(N.B. Albert Tang's father was a Cantonese opera lead performer and regarded as one of the best, especially in his style of singing. His mother was also a Cantonese opera performer. – HWO)
More will be uploaded later...