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February 21, 2024

The Big Swim, a new chamber opera celebrating the Lunar New Year, premiered to three sold-out performances at Asia Society Texas on February 16–18.


The performances started with Dragon and Tiger opening the theater doors to welcome guests to the palace where the race will take place. Once the audience settled in their seats, Dragon, Tiger, and Monkey welcomed the audience/Emperor to the race that is about to begin. As the animals prepare and approach the start line, they share their own reasons and strategies to win the race. Ox and Rat team up in a quest for fame and fortune, the calculating Rabbit has devised a plan without including the others, Snake tricks the others as to the time the race will start, and Dog is just happy to be there. Throughout these scenes, Tien's libretto captures the humor of their interactions and characters, while Tsui's score, infused with charming melodies, defines each animal with a musical motif.


February 17, 2024

HGO premieres a colorful children’s opera of cooperation with “The Big Swim”
Texas Classical Review

The twelve animals, portrayed by six singers, make up the opera’s cast.


As the creatures enter, one or two at a time, Tsui’s lively, colorful score helps their personalities come across—from the live-wire rat to the sultry snake. The latter has the most extensive introductory number, replete with sinuous vocal lines.

Tsui’s six-player instrumental group generally chimes in energetically—sometimes with chugging ostinatos—but lightly enough to let the voices come through. During a confrontation between the rabbit and tiger, the music harkens back to an agitated 20th-century atonalism. When the racers navigate the river’s terrors, their voices join in a sonorous ensemble.


February 13, 2024

This Weekend: Full of Family Fun, Inaugural New-Year's Opera Opens at Asia Society
Houston CityBook

This weekend, to help ring in the Year of the Wood Dragon, the Houston Grand Opera, and Asia Society Texas present the world premiere of The Big Swim, a one-act, fun, family-friendly opera created by composer Meilina Tsui and librettist Melisa Tien that retells the legend of a great race between the animals of the Chinese zodiac calendar. The Big Swim runs Feb. 16-18 at Asia Society Texas. Like Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, The Big Swim will be presented annually to coincide with Houston’s New Year celebrations.

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February 1, 2024

New Opera Blends Asian and Western Traditions for New Year
WWFM A Tempo with Rachel Katz

American orchestras have increasingly planned special concerts for the Asian Lunar New Year, including the New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra. This year the Houston Grand Opera has teamed up with Asia Society Texas to commission a new opera with a Lunar New Year theme, and A Tempo this week features conversations with some of the creators. Called “The Big Swim,” the work updates a traditional folktale about the animals of the Zodiac with traditional Asian and Western styles and other music genres.


Host Rachel Katz speaks with HGO General Director and CEO Khori Dastoor, Asia Society Texas President Bonna Kol, composer Meilina Tsui and director Mo Zhou.

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January 7, 2024

Houston Grand Opera & the Asia Society Texas to Give the World Premiere of 'The Big Swim' 
- OperaWire

Houston Grand Opera and the Asia Society Texas announced their co-production of the world premiere of Meilina Tsui and  Melisa Tien’s opera “The Big Swim.”

The new opera weaves together Eastern and Western cultures, with Tsui’s score incorporating opera buffa, Peking and Cantonese opera, Gregorian chants, American and Asian pop music, animated musicals, and more. In Tien’s modern take on the classic story, notions of individualism and rivalry are gradually replaced by a sense of community and camaraderie among the 12 Zodiac animals. At the end of the race, the characters gather to sing a song of unification and friendship. “The Big Swim” is planned to be presented as an interactive retelling of the great race between the 12 animals of the zodiac calendar, each year as part of its Lunar New Year festivities.

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January 4, 2024

Houston Grand Opera and Asia Society Texas Present World Premiere of The Big Swim - Houston Style Magazine

“Meilina Tsui and Melisa Tien’s wonderfully exhilarating, inventive new opera, The Big Swim, is part of a continuing tradition at our company,” says HGO General Director and CEO Khori Dastoor. “HGO is committed to creating multi-generational programming that centers the family experience and celebrates the beautiful cultural gifts that Houstonians of Asian descent have brought to our international city—from the first wave of Chinese immigrants 150 years ago to today’s diverse AAPI population, now one of the largest in the entire country. We are so grateful to our friends at Asia Society Texas for their vision, and their partnership in producing this new piece.”


“It has long been a goal for Asia Society Texas to have a premier performance centered on Lunar New Year as it is one of the most important holiday traditions in Asia and for Asian Americans,” says AST President Bonna Kol. “We are so pleased to partner with Houston Grand Opera to make this goal a reality. We believe The Big Swim will become a new holiday tradition that all Houstonians will enjoy for years to come.”


December 27, 2023

a dive into The Big Swim with composer Meilina Tsui and librettist Melisa Tien - Houston Grand Opera

Librettist, Melisa Tien, and I are interviewed by Houston Grand Opera's Amber Francis about the origins of our new opera, The Big Swim. 


"Dive into the enchanting world of HGO's 76th world premiere — The Big Swim — with composer Meilina Tsui and librettist Melisa Tien. Read all about how they put together a witty and compelling opera that retells the story of the Chinese zodiac animals through a fusion of traditional and modern influences". -- HGO

Click here to read about the interview:


April 17, 2023

Morning Call with Stacey Rodda - RTHK FM976

My interview with Stacey Rodda at Radio Television Hong Kong Radio 4 香港電台第四台, in which I talk about about my career as a composer, all the important mentors that have helped me get to where I am today, the exciting projects that I've been part of recently, and many other interesting things.


Interview can be accessed via this link (beginning of Part 3):

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June 29, 2022

Opera’s Evening of Song to feature Mary Prescott premiere, dovetail with CLSC poetry pick - Chautauqua Daily

"In addition to the premiere of “My Skeleton,” Young Artist Max Potter will offer a new take on Meilina Tsui’s "Mother to Son", which debuted in 2021. The lyrics come from the Langston Hughes poem of the same name.


“Despite the title ‘Mother to Son,’ a countertenor (originally) sang it,” said Carol Rausch, chorus administrator and music administrator for Chautauqua Opera. “This will be the first time that a woman has sung it.” Rausch, who plays piano for the piece, and Potter practiced with Tsui, who is a composer fellow this season. During the rehearsal, Tsui tailored the piece for Potter. “We really enjoyed working with her (earlier this week). She made a couple of note changes and made it different for a woman’s voice,” Rausch said.


Like Medeiros, Potter appreciated the experience of working with the composer of the art song. “Working with her on things like tempo and phrasing, and how she hears it in her head versus how I am performing it, is such a special resource to have,” Potter said."

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May 27, 2022

Jennifer Bowman named Houston Grand Opera’s Director of Community and Learning, formerly HGOco - Houston Arts Journal

The Big Swim: This new family-friendly chamber opera from composer Meilina Tsui and librettist Melisa Tien, currently in development by HGO in partnership with the Asia Society Texas Center (ASTC), shares the story of the Jade Emperor and the Great Race. The work will premiere at ASTC in February 2024 as part of its Lunar New Year festivities.


August 17, 2021

REVIEW: Glover, Ehnes and Yang take it up a notch at the music festival
- The Aspen Times

"Finally, Saturday morning’s opera master class at Wheeler Opera House concluded with an extraordinary moment: A concert of new art songs by eight young composers in the festival’s program, including a setting of Langston Hughes’ poem "Mother to Son". Mei-ling Meilina Tsui, from Kazakhstan by way of Hong Kong, wrote irresistible, emotionally convincing music that drew from her own culture and that of countertenor Key’mon Murrah, who grew up in a Black family in Kentucky. Both said the poet’s words resonated with their histories, and the music, and Murrah’s performance with pianist Manuel Arellano, certainly conveyed it. Let us hope that we get to hear it again and again."


May 19, 2021

World Premiere of New Work at Tai Kwun
- Hong Kong Economic Times

My interview in Chinese with the Hong Kong Economic Times, in which I talk about my mixed cultural background and upbringing in Hong Kong, the musical influences and experiences I have had as a composer, and my thoughts on education. It also mentions the world premiere of my new work “Secret Labyrinth” commissioned by Musicus Society, performed at 大館 Tai Kwun, an iconic historic landmark in Hong Kong.


January 21, 2019

CASHFLOW Magazine, Issue 88, 2019: #Hashtag 音樂人 Musicians

My interview with CASHFLOW published by the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong (CASH). 

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November 11, 2018

Inaugural Concert of the Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) Chamber Soloists - RTHK

"Another new work to be featured by ‘The RTHK Chamber Soloists’ is the Piano Quintet No. 2 by Meilina Tsui, who is currently working on her Doctorate in Composition at the University of Michigan. When asked how she would compare the new work with her Piano Quintet No. 1 (for piano and string quartet), and whether the piano part would take prominence since she is a pianist herself, she revealed that all parts are equally distributed but the work has an improved timbre due to the addition of a woodwind instrument. She has also combined traditional western classical music with folk elements in the work, making it more a truly ‘local’ work."


September 15, 2018

Secretary for Home Affairs meets with Vice Mayor of Almaty - The Government of the Hong Kong SAR Press Releases

"The Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, today (September 15) met with the Vice Mayor of Almaty, Mr Arman Kyrykbayev, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to exchange views on strengthening co-operation between the two places... Tonight, Mr Lau will attend a concert jointly presented by Hong Kong and Kazakhstan. Young Hong Kong musicians who play Chinese and Western music will perform alongside renowned Kazakhstan musical ensembles including the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Kazakhstan, the Kazakh State String Quartet and the Turan Kazakh Ensemble. Some of the music pieces were composed by a young Chinese musician, Meilina Tsui, who was born in Kazakhstan. She will also take part in the performance."

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May, 6, 2018

Мэйлина Тсуй популяризирует культуру Казахстана в Гонконге (Meilina Tsui popularizes Kazakh music tradition in Hong Kong) - KAZINFORM

My interview in Russian with Kazakh International News Agency, Kazinform, in which I talk about my educational background, and musical achievements.


April 27, 2018

2018 Intimacy of Creativity Preview - Youtube

Preview video of Intimacy of Creativity, including snippets of my interview in which I talk about my new work, String Quartet No. 2.

March 18, 2018

HK Phil Composers Workshop - Beyond The Ring Proves To Be A Huge Success

"The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's "Composers Workshop - Beyond the Ring" Public Working Session and Showcase was held on 13 March 2018 at the Grand Hall, Lee Shau Kee Lecture Centre, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong. In our commitment to nurturing composing talents in Hong Kong, the HK Phil has organised a series of workshops and a public showcase for six young local composers - Chan Chi-long, Kwok Man-ho, Meilina Tsui Mei-ling, Wong Ching-yin, So Ho-chi, and Wong Chun-wai. Their new works were premiered by the HK Phil under the baton of conductor Sebastian Perowski, with the honoured attendance of officiating guest Mrs. Angelina Cheung, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs."


Meilina Tsui: "I was impressed by the excellent performance by the HK Phil. The ancillary programmes provided me with much inspiration for my composition. The conductor was very experienced. I appreciated his comments, which will improve my future compositions." (Translated from Cantonese)

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July 5, 2017

Music Interflow – A Dialogue of Two Cultures - Interlude

Can you tell us a bit more about the work by Tsui?

N: We will be playing her ‘Six Miniature Pieces of Yin and Yang’. This is an interesting and challenging work! Mary and I played two of them – ‘Water’ and ‘Fire’ – last year for the Musicarama 2016 concert, and those two movements gave us quite a lot of headache!

M: Yes, there’s lots of running around [on the keyboard]. I thought ‘Water’ was quite effective, not in the Ravel / Debussy sense, but in that there were some still and meditative moments. ‘Fire’ was harder [to grasp] as the texture is quite thick.

N: After these two crazy movements come the other four movements are ‘Earth’, ‘Air’, ‘Dark’, and ‘Light’. Actually, Meilina was my student at Chinese University, and she is a most versatile and talented young lady.

-- Taken from an interview with renowned Hong Kong pianists, Nancy Loo and Mary Wu.


May, 2017

Meilina Tsui gives composition masterclass at Renaissance College Hong Kong (RCHK) - English Schools Foundation (ESF) Alumni News

"Meilina Tsui (Class of 2012) returned to Renaissance College to give a composition masterclass for current DP music students and music scholars. Meilina is an award-winning composer and pianist who studied at CUHK and King’s College London, and is currently living in Hong Kong where she creates her own music and compositions."

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November 25, 2016

Tsui Mei-ling Meilina's "Frost" - SOUND-IMAGination: Hong Kong Reflections INTERVIEWS

1) Briefly introduce your commissioned work. 

Frost is a 2-minute piece written for Xiao, Tenor Sheng, Er Hu and Yang Qin. It is based on a photograph of the Nina Tower in Tsuen Wan and its surroundings at night taken from a less urban area in Hong Kong.


2) How did the image inspire you to write this piece? 


The orange-tainted sky, the still, unobtrusive boats and dark waters had a profound influence on the slow pace and harmonic language used, especially in the beginning of the piece. The contrast to that, the lights from modern skyscrapers and ‘beehive’ residential buildings across the waters inspired different musical ideas which altered the mood of the piece to something more lively and dynamic.


3) All visual elements of this concert, which served as the initial inspiration for the composers, will be projected on screen during the performance. What is the difference between composing with and without a specified visual image?

My musical interpretation of frost would have been very different had I not seen a specified visual image of it. Pictures have incredible power in evoking emotions, a single look at a picture can instantly affect your mood. You could also imagine yourself standing in the same spot as the photographer. For my case, I imagined myself standing alone on a shore facing the Nina Tower in Tsuen Wan on a cold winter night, feeling the winter chill blowing against my face, listening to the sounds of anchored boats rocking on small waves, trying to find peace in this remote part of Hong Kong but at the same time marvelling at the busy lights of the urban area from across the waters. The picture serves as a guide, and in a way it dictates what the observer should think about or feel. It could evoke many different emotions or it could evoke very little emotions, it all depends on what the focus, layers, and scope of the picture are. Composing music without the aid of visual image, on the other hand, would just mean that I am free to express things without limiting myself to the inspiration that I get from a picture.

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