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Indiana Daily Student

Hippocrates Cheng presents ‘In The Midst Of’ virtual pandemic opera

<p>Hippocrates Cheng, a second year doctoral student at the Jacobs School of Music, is a composer and overtone singer.</p>

Hippocrates Cheng, a second year doctoral student at the Jacobs School of Music, is a composer and overtone singer.

Hippocrates Cheng, a second year doctoral student at the Jacobs School of Music, will be the director, composer and producer of the virtual pandemic opera "In The Midst Of" in November.

The virtual pandemic opera is a multimedia recording documenting the features and nature of the COVID-19  pandemic, Cheng said. International composers, singers, musicians, performance artists and multimedia artists collaborated for this project.

The opera will also feature many different poems written by poets from Hong Kong and various places worldwide. The opera will be sung mainly in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. 

Cheng said he recruited friends in the Jacobs School of Music, performers from Hong Kong and global production teams.

“We have to balance the feasibility and aesthetics presentation in this unique art form to deliver the best to the world,” Cheng said in an email. “Especially since this production requires huge collaborative efforts from everyone.”

Even though traditionally it would be a one-time-only performance on stage, Cheng decided to premiere his work as an ongoing virtual pandemic opera. It will be premiered online as a web series with different episodes airing regularly over the coming months. However, a full schedule for episodes has not been decided on yet.

Each episode is around 15 to 30 minutes. “In Midst Of” will premiere in Hong Kong, the U.S. and Germany on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

“I found many poems related to the theme of life, pandemic, masks and future from a poetry magazine: ‘Voice & Verse,'” Cheng said in an email. “I contacted editor-in-chief Chris Song and the poets individually to use their poems as artistic inspiration for the pandemic opera.”

Taylor Fleshman, a Jacobs School of Music graduate, said Cheng is incredibly committed and enthusiastic with every project he does. 

“You can tell that he is passionate about what he loves doing and does not let anything or anyone get in the way of it,” Fleshman said in an email. “He believes in his music and is unapologetic for it, it is very special because with that kind of attitude, anything is possible.”

Eugene O’Brien, adjunct professor of music composition at Jacobs, said Cheng's greatest strengths are the depth of his musical imagination and its adaptability.

“Hippocrates has been able to visualize a piece that makes imaginative use of the technical resources in such a way that his composing has taken on new dimensions that might not have been thought of prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” O’Brien said in an email.

Cheng said he hopes the audience will enjoy and also reflect through experience the production.

“Pandemic opera is not just a virtual opera for the pandemic time and subject, it’s a manifesto, statement, and a genre that explores possibilities of the future,” Cheng said in an email. “I hope it could lead to a new spectrum of artworks worldwide and it creates its unique spiritual-artscape.”

The performance can be found on Cheng’s Instagram, Facebook and Youtube pages.

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