Chinary Ung

Biography

Born: November 24, 1942; Takeo, Cambodia  
Composer Chinary Ung emerged from relative obscurity in 1989 when he was given the highly coveted Grawemeyer Award for his 1986 choral work, Inner Voices. A meteoric ascent followed, bedecked with prestigious commissions and frequent performances of his works. It seemed an unlikely reception for an immigrant composer whose expressive language was progressive and often challenging for the listener, not least because of its occasional blending of Read more Western and Far Eastern sonorities. But Ung's music has attracted a wide following over the years: even at its most intractable, it is colorful and full of invention, rife with a sense of individuality. Ung's vocal writing often calls for vibrato-like and other effects; his instrumental works sometimes feature exotic (i.e., Cambodian or Far Eastern) instruments, and his orchestral and chamber music often exhibits layering techniques. Yet, works such as Grand Spiral (1990), for symphonic band, are Impressionistic in character and relatively accessible. Ung's works are available on a variety of labels, including Bridge, Composers Recordings, Albany Records, and New World Records.
Chinary Ung was born in Takeo, Cambodia, on November 24, 1942. His first advanced musical studies were at the Ecole de Musique Phnom Penh. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1964, he enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music for clarinet studies, but transferred to Columbia University to study composition with Chinese-American composer Chou Wen-Chung.
Ung achieved success with his first significant compositions, Mohori (1970) and Tall Wind (1974), both for vocalist and chamber ensemble. But between 1974, the year of his Columbia graduation, and 1985 he virtually abandoned composition, producing but a single work, Khse Buon (1980), for solo cello or viola. Ung used the decade-long hiatus to aid relatives and artists escape the murderous and oppressive Khmer Rouge regime, then in control of Cambodia.
After winning the Grawemeyer Award in 1989, Ung enjoyed a string of successes, including Spiral VI (1992), for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano; Antiphonal Spirals (1995), for orchestra; and Seven Mirrors (1997), for solo piano. In 2002 Ung returned to his native country for the first time since 1964. There he performed in several concerts of his music. Ung has remained active as a composer in the new century, producing such pieces as the 2008 choral work Spiral XII: Space Between Heaven and Earth. He also teaches at the University of California at San Diego, where he has been professor of composition since 1995. Read less
Browse 1-16 of 16 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Abhanden / Chris Wild, Ensemble Dal Niente
    Label: Navona   Catalog: 5940 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Chinary Ung,  Charles Vivier,  Daniel Dehaan,  Andrew Greenwald  ... 
    Performer:  Mable Kwan,  Chris Wild,  Greg Beyer,  J. Austin Wulliman  ... 
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  • 2.
    Asian Music For String Quartet / New Zealand Quartet
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572488 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Zhou Long,  Chinary Ung,  Gao Ping,  Toru Takemitsu  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
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  • 3.
    Music Of Chinary Ung Vol. 3 / Buckner, Vartan, Solook
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9368 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Chinary Ung
    Performer:  Susan Ung,  Lynn Vartan,  Thomas Buckner,  Stephen Solook
    Conductor:  Chinary Ung
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  • 4.
    Chinary Ung: Aura, Oracle; Still Life After Death / Southwest Chamber Music
    Label: Cambria   Catalog: 8854 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Chinary Ung
    Performer:  Kathleen Roland,  Elissa Johnston
    Conductor:  Jeff von der Schmidt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest Chamber Music
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  • 5.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 487 Release Date: 05/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Conrad Cummings,  Chinary Ung
    Performer:  Susan Belling,  Chris Finckel,  Joan Heller,  Keith Underwood  ... 
    Conductor:  Conrad Cummings,  Arthur Weisberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra members,  New Music Consort
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  • 6.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 363 Release Date: 01/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sydney Hodkinson,  John Heiss,  Chinary Ung
    Performer:  William Albright,  Barbara Ann Martin
    Conductor:  Richard Fitz,  Arthur weisberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Speculum Musicae,  Contemporary Chamber Ensemble
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  • 7.
    Mcphee: Tabuh-tabuhan; Ung: Inner Voices; Harrison: Suite For Symphonic Strings
    Label: Phoenix Usa   Catalog: 171 Release Date: 12/06/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lou Harrison,  Colin McPhee,  Chinary Ung
    Performer:  Peter Basquin,  Christopher Oldfather
    Conductor:  Dennis Russell Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Composers Orchestra
    CD: $15.99
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  • 8.
    Luminious Spirals - Chamber Music Of Chinary Ung
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9321 Release Date: 02/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Chinary Ung
    Conductor:  Michael Adelson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Da Capo Chamber Players
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  • 9.
    Masterworks For Marimba - Bley, Johnston, Schuller, Et Al / Nancy Zeltsman, Et Al
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9311 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Fred Hersch,  Ed Haddad,  Betsy Jolas,  Anders Hillborg  ... 
    Performer:  Jack Van Geem,  Tom Burritt,  Jean Geoffroy,  William Moersch  ... 
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  • 10.
    A Tribute To Chou Wen-Chung
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1064/65 Release Date: 02/10/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Chou Wen-chung,  Isang Yun,  Chinary Ung,  Edgard Varèse  ... 
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  • 11.
    Ung: Khse Buon, Child Song, Seven Mirrors / Susan Ung, Charles Wells, Et Al
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9277 Release Date: 12/09/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Chinary Ung
    Performer:  Susan Lee Pounders Ung,  Clay Ellerbroek,  Elena Mashkovtseva,  Charles Wells
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  • 12.
    Mcphee: Tabuh-tabuhan;  Ung: Inner Voices;  Harrison / Davies, American Composers Orchestra
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 444560 Release Date: 05/15/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lou Harrison,  Chinary Ung,  Colin McPhee
    Performer:  Christopher Oldfather,  Peter Basquin
    Conductor:  Dennis Russell Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Composers Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Ung: Seven Mirrors, Etc / Cheng, Gray, Et Al
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80619 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Chinary Ung
    Performer:  Ella Marie Gray,  Meade Crane,  Sean Osborn,  Walter Gray  ... 
    Conductor:  Harvey Sollberger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quake,  La Jolla Symphony Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Kinship / Maya Beiser
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7464 Release Date: 05/23/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nana Vasconcelos,  Anonymous,  Simon Shaheen,  Glen Velez  ... 
    Performer:  Maya Beiser,  Simon Shaheen,  Glen Velez
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  • 15.
    Chinary Ung: Grand Spiral
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 710 Release Date: 05/21/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Chinary Ung
    Performer:  Judy May Sellheim,  Robert Hamilton,  Daniel Perantoni,  Susan Lee Pounders Ung  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Strange,  Arthur Weisberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arizona State University Symphonic Band,  Contemporary Chamber Ensemble
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  • 16.
    Aequalis - Works By Brody, Davidovsky, Gideon, Steifer, Ung
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80412 Release Date: 12/08/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Chinary Ung,  Miriam Gideon,  Mario Davidovsky,  Martin Brody  ... 
    Performer:  Elizabeth Mohr,  Fred Bronstein,  Michael Parola
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aequalis
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