Ho Wai-On 何蕙安 aka Ann-Kay Lin

Music Videos, Score, Stories, Comments

4 Songs in Chinese 聯篇曲



Bitter Taste of Love  ⁕  Haws  ⁕  Sounds Slowing  ⁕  Drinking Alone

1st Song, Bitter Taste of Love —  feeling unease《相思苦》

On Choi May-Chu’s line art. I wrote the words (not good but fit the melody well)


2nd Song, Haws —  feeling a terrible sense of loss《山查子》

On Choi May-Chu’s watercolour/ ink painting. A popular poem by a woman poet of Song Dynasty and obviously about an affair – a taboo subject then in China.


3rd Song, Sounds Slowing deepest sorrow《声声慢》

On Choi May-Chu’s traditional Chinese paintings and watercolour. The poem was by China’s most revered woman poet (Song Dynasty).


4th Song, Drinking Alone Under the Moon deep loneliness


This is more on Choi May-Chu’s Chinese paintings and abstract art. The poem was by Li Bai (Tong Dynasty). His works were integrated in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Li Bai drowned trying to grasp the moon’s reflection in the river from his boat while drunk. 在第四首我比較注重蔡美珠國畫和抽象方面的。李白詩仙的詩,人所共知,不用介紹了。這詩表達我那時候看似瀟灑地對酒當歌,其實無比孤寂。

The Score 樂譜

Audio recording of the proper Chinese pronunciation of the 4 poems, read by Jiang Hua (姜華), BBC Chinese Service 曲詞正確讀音:

FOUR SONGS music videos


Performed by Nancy Yuen (soprano) and Philip Edwards (clarinet)

Jane Webster narrates.

Where there are multiple videos for the same song, there are slight differences in image editing.

In 2017 my old classmate Choi May-Chu replied to my Christmas card with her painting of lotuses and herons. I liked the painting and it gave me the idea that I could use her artwork to create a music video for the Four Songs. May-Chu was supportive and sent me a DVD containing many of her artworks and photos, allowing freedom of modification. She also painted new works and took photos for me, and supplied inspiration, such as the shadow motif in the 4th song Drinking Alone. I included my own video clips to enhance motion. As it was her painting of lotuses that gave me the idea in the first place, I put emphasis on lotuses, and used a lotus photo by a former staff member of our old school, Mr Leung, as material for a moving lotus motif to contrast with May-Chu's.

There was much to consider: What May-Chu sent covers a long period of time and reflects her life, how was I to present them to show the beauty of her work at different times? Most of her paintings have nothing to do with my Four Songs, how was I to merge them with the music and words and to create movement? How was I to modify my videos clips and her photos to match the style of her artwork? Because of my health, I worked rather slowly. I took time to look at what May-Chu sent me for inspiration. After a few months, I chose a group of colour sketches that seemed to be her earlier work, and added some motion and created the video of the first song Bitter Taste of Love. I had no idea what to do with the 2nd song, so I uploaded the 1st song as May-Chu had waited for some time to see what I might do. She watched it and liked it. A few months later, I used her watercolour as the theme and completed the 2nd song Haws. A few months later, I put emphasis on her Chinese paintings and lotuses, merging with my video clips and completed the 3rd song Sound Slowing. Another few months, with the shadow motif and more abstract images and my video clips, the 4th song Drinking Alone was done. As this is actually a song cycle, I combined the four songs, one without narration, and one with. The complete four songs with narration is the one with all the visual materials of May-Chu and mine, and is musically complete expressing the pangs of love from feeling unease, to loss, to deepest sorrow, to deep loneliness. It's narrated by Jane Webster, an RAM alumna and award-winning mezzo whose career includes opera and West End musicals. As it is my story, in each song there is at least one image of me at that time.

Although May-Chu and I spent six years in the same school, we didn't do much together in school. When we reconnected in 2017, we are both much battered by the vicissitudes of life. She's in Taiwan and I am in the UK, and we communicate via emails. However, I remember her beauty, her charm and her talents. One can turn life's twists and turns into a piece of creative art to be appreciated.  

演出者: 女高音 阮妙芬,單簧管 菲臘愛德華氏, 珍韋斯特朗誦。

2017年我發出一些自製聖誕賀卡,真光同學蔡美珠回賀,是一幅她畫的《清荷羽白》,我很欣賞,覺得風味很適合配合我那四首一組的《联篇曲》做音樂視頻。視頻圖象是不停改變的,否則不能稱為視頻,圖像改變要配合音樂節奏和曲詞,需要很多圖像,很感謝蔡美珠支持和了解,寄給我一DVD,內有很多她各種不同風格的畫和攝影,容許我自由裁改,又有求必應的再加添,還特別為此畫了些新作和影了些相,又給我提供靈感,譬如第四首《月下獨酌》其中影子的變化,就是和美珠互動得到靈感的。我加入一些我影的視頻來增加動感。因爲是見到美珠畫的荷花而起了做這組音樂視頻的念頭,所以對荷花作了點特寫,還把一張真光前教職員梁熾恆先生影的荷花做素材,做成有動感的圖案與美珠的荷花相呼應, 既是我的故事,每首曲都有我在當時的型象。



Though the PDF score here is for soprano and clarinet, the songs can be sung by lower voices and accompanied by clarinet, cor anglais, flute or Chinese flute (see suggestions in the score).

When I was young I believed in love and friendship. Yet my love hurt me for kicks. I was very good to my best friend, yet she moved in with my boyfriend because it was useful for her. Like spoilt children, for them, it's just a game. I felt stupid for wasting my feelings on those who did not cherish me. It was so painful that for some time I felt numb – as if nothing had happened. Years later, that pang became inspiration for writing the song cycle Four Songs (also called Four Love Songs in Chinese). I wrote the words in Chinese for the first song. Realising I was not much good writing in rhyme, for the rest of the songs in the cycle, I used famous poems from the Song and Tang Dynasties – they expressed how I felt at the time well. Then I wrote melodies for the songs as inspired by the sound and meaning of the words. Though my professional musical training was Western Classical, as a small child in Hong Kong my first impression of music was Cantonese opera in which a performer would modify the melody/rhythm according to the sound and meaning of the words, and the accompanying instrument flexibly imitates/follows the singing. What I heard as a child influenced how I wrote for the voice and the accompanying clarinet. I have heard free renditions of existing music by Western Classical musicians (e.g., Purcell’s Dido and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons), but I have yet to come across free rendition as dominated by the lyrics. I think this might due to the importance of harmony in Western Classical – certain notes have to come together vertically at a certain time, while my song cycle was about two lines (vocal and instrumental) flowing freely horizontally. Though the songs sound Chinese pentatonic, there are notes outside the scale and glissandos. Pitch fluctuation and tuning outside the well-tempered scale is also a characteristic of the music I heard as a child. Traditional Chinese music in Western notation often looks simplistic and is not a true picture of the real sound. Perhaps the flexibilities in rendition…etc., as mentioned above, explain some of the reasons.

Thank you to Mark Argent for editing my translation into a more poetic version.

More info & cultural background: download Music is Happiness CD book in PDF format and see pp.16-21.


《聯篇曲》 無朗誦版 FOUR SONGS IN CHINESE no narration

FOUR SONGS IN CHINESE with narration《聯篇曲》有朗誦版

This version is meant for a concert setting with an English speaking audience.

Use the following links if streaming of the above video is slow


YouTube:  https://youtu.be/KRuilNrEdq8

  Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/343216736

Comments 評語:

"Just had a look/listen to your Drinking Alone piece.  It's an interesting amalgam of the images, voice and music. The voice has a distinctive sound but I don't know enough to understand it fully sort of chino-operatic. Please forgive me if that is totally sacrilegious but I do like that haunting sound   combined with those cosmic images".   Vivien Finch (see above)

剛剛看了/聽了你的《月下獨酌》音樂視頻。這是圖像、歌聲和音樂的有趣融合。歌声獨特,但我沒有足夠的認識去完全理解,只覺得有點像中國戲曲,請原諒如果剛才講的像是褻瀆神明,但我確實喜歡這令人難以忘懷的歌聲與那些宇宙圖像的結合”。—-維維安·芬奇 (見上文)

"At long last I had uninterrupted time to look at the paintings and listen to the video all of it is utterly sublime and words cannot describe it.  The haunting sounds of the clarinet echo humanity’s need to forget, to reach beyond itself and ultimately to transcend.  It’s so beautiful."   Christa Darragh, former neighbour, studied German Language & Literature at Birkbeck College, founder of poetry groups in Wanstead, Warminster and Towcester.


Use the following links if streaming of the above video is slow


YouTube:  https://youtu.be/BVXlNNrdpt4

  Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/299500897

Comments 評語:

This week is hectic but I just took a moment off to watch your video which I think is very beautiful, both music and words, although I am sure the words are more evocative in Chinese than a rather mundane translation. “  

Margaret Morley (see above)

“這週很忙,但我仍抽空看了你的視頻,這視頻非常美,音樂和文字亦然,相信中文會比這英文翻譯更令人回味。 “  —- 瑪格烈摩利(見上文)

Now, most important. I absolutely loved Sounds Slowing the music, the imagery and language. Taken as a whole, it is beautiful but beautifully morose and bleak.  Always a paradox.

—- Vivien Finch, Suffolk and Essex coastal dweller, music amateur, teacher, memoir writer and London JP... charities: Canine Partners, Medical Detection Dogs (making huge strides in cancer detection) and Dogs Trust (biggest rescue and re-home charity in UK)

“現在鄭重地講,我非常喜歡《声声慢》包括音樂、圖像和文字。作為一個整體,它是美麗的,但美麗得憂鬱和淒涼,很有點矛盾。 ”


At the bottom of this page is the earliest recording of this work for soprano and cor anglais performed by Kathryn Harries and Jane Mitchell.

The Earliest Recording of 4 Songs in Chinese


It was for soprano and Cor Anglais and sung by the Welsh soprano Kathryn Harries and accompanied by Jane Mitchell. This is a very old recording, the sound has deteriorated a bit and may not do them both full justice. I was impressed by Kathryn's willingness to sing in Chinese which was unusual at the time. When I first heard the recording I was impressed by the purity of her voice that reminded me of early music and seemed very apt for this particular work. Later on Kathryn Harries made a very successful operatic career including singing Wagnerian repertoire.

I may upload other recordings by other sopranos singing various combinations when I can find/restore performances by Nancy Zi and Pamela Ryker (flute), Lisa Nolan with Geoffrey Elkan (clarinet), and one for soprano with Chinese flute.


Use the following links if streaming of the above video is slow


YouTube: https://youtu.be/g3RgWZhehDI

  Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/343218347

評語 Comments: 剛欣賞兩位好同學的真情互動作品,美妙之至!無論曲、畫、歌聲、朗誦均妙絶!詳細的述說我也拜讀過兩次,作品的完成實在不簡單,從中可見兩位的經歴和感受!"—-黃國凱,真光校友和前國文教師,中國信徒佈道會合約編輯。

Just enjoyed the sincere interactive works of two good classmates, it's wonderful! No matter the music, painting, singing, recitation are all wonderful! I have also read the detailed description twice, and the completion of the work is really not easy, from which you can see the experience and feelings of the two!"  —  Wong Kwok Hoi, HK True Light Middle School alumna and former Chinese language teacher, contract editor of the China Christian Evangelistic Association.

聴到耳油都出来,無得頂!你对音樂實在很有才華,你和蔡美珠各有不同的天份,但合作得很投入,彼此有共鳴,好難得呀!我們真有福,可以有机会欣賞你俩的傑作精品. Although I don't have musical cells but I do appreciate it very much.  — E.B., 另一真光校友,Hong Kong True Light Middle School alumna.

Use the following links if streaming of the above video is slow


YouTube: https://youtu.be/rHP9G5BrlQ8

  Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/359281183

Comments 評語:

The songs are so melancholy, they have left me feeling quite subdued!

Margaret Morley, RAM alumna, sister of J D Morley.



(Referring to Music is Happiness CD) "The stand out for me was the Four Songs, a beautiful voice powerful and all four of the songs desperately sad but avoiding, to me, too obvious sentimentality. And a soulful clarinet."  

Mike Smith, a retired accountant living in East London whose interests are Epping Forest, bird watching, and DIY.

"(在《樂在其中》CD中)對我來說最突出的是這四首歌,優美有能量的女高音,所有四首歌都極悲傷,但並不是多愁善感。 還有那深情的單簧管。”


Use the following links if streaming of the above video is slow


YouTube: https://youtu.be/8_wp8qrG66g

  Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/291977810

Use the following links if streaming of the above video is slow


YouTube: https://youtu.be/0YLAy66SpYU

  Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/291978218