Born in Malaysia of Cantonese-Hakka descent, Kah-Ming Ng studied at Monash University, Melbourne (where he obtained a B.E. in civil engineering), the Frankfurt State Academy of Music (as a DAAD scholar), the London Guildhall School of Music & Drama (on a Foreign & Commonwealth Office scholarship), and St Anne's College, Oxford (as a British Council Chevening research scholar), from which he gained his performance M.Phil. degree.
He was awarded a D.Phil. by Keble College, Oxford, for his doctoral research into figured bass accompaniment in its social and artistic context.
His harpsichord teachers included Elizabeth Anderson (Melbourne), Harald Hoeren (Cologne), Michael Behringer (Freiburg) and Christopher Kite (London).
He is a winner of the Guildhall School's Early Music Competition and a Fellow (in Harpsichord) of the Trinity College of Music London. He has accompanied the recitals and concerts of pioneering artists of the historically-informed movement, including Emma Kirkby, James Bowman, Catherine Bott, John Holloway, and Simon Standage.
Kah-Ming regularly contributes reviews and articles to leading specialist music journals; he wrote the entries on English and French baroque ornamentation in the revised New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians. In between his performing and directing, he squeezes in some adjudicating (of competitions and examinations) and lecturing, his most recent position being Course Co-ordinator & Lecturer in Early Music Studies (2004-6) at the Faculty of Music, Oxford University.
Kah-Ming is a founder member, with Susanne Heinrich, of the Baroque ensemble Charivari Agréable. Charivari is recognized today as 'one of the classiest baroque bands' The Observer, and 'certainly one of the most original and versatile groups on the Early Music scene today' Hexachord, whose musical 'intuitions are always captivating' Goldberg.
The group has been hailed for its 'thinking musicians who treat music of the past more creatively' via their arrangements of music, 'based on a greater knowledge of the historical and social contexts for the music'. Charivari Agréable represents 'a new and very exciting phase of the early music revival, one that enriches the existing repertory and can bring us ever closer to the spirit of the original music' Gramophone.
Under the artistic direction of Susanne Heinrich and the musical leadership of Kah-Ming Ng, the ensemble specializes in the ingenious use of period instruments to produce 'ravishing sonorities and full-bodied textures' Gramophone with 'their powerful cohesion, warm sound, and their eloquent authority' Diapason. The group has 'carved something of a niche for itself in imaginative and well-thought-out programming'; 'its work is the fruit of both scholarly research and charismatic musicianship, a combination that puts it at the forefront of period-instrument ensembles' BBC Music Magazine.
With a chronological remit spanning epochs from the Renaissance to the early classical, the ensemble appears in many guises, from a continuo band, (accompanying the recitals of such artists as Emma Kirkby, John Holloway and Simon Standage), a viol consort, and an Elizabethan mixed consort, to a baroque orchestra and many other surprising - yet historical - combinations.
Charivari Agréable (trans. 'pleasant tumult', from Saint-Lambert's 1707 treatise on accompaniment) was formed at the University of Oxford in 1993, and within the year became prize-winners of an international Early Music Network (UK) competition, made its debut at the Wigmore Hall, and recorded the first of many subsequent live concerts for the BBC, including Radio 3's 'In tune', 'Music Restor'd', and 'The Early Music Show'. Charivari Agréable has since recorded for New York's WNYC, and many other European radio stations, including the European Broadcasting Union. Their CD of French baroque viol chamber music entitled The Sultan & the Phoenix won the Diapason d'Or. The same viols' recording of viol consort music on the CD The Complete Works of Tallis vol. IX has just been made the Gramophone Editor's Choice. The group's recording of poignant German sacred cantatas for Holy Week entitled Sacred Songs of Sorrow was voted The Best CD of the Year by International Record Review, while their transcriptions from the The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book were selected for Classic FM's Christmas Choice and named Outstanding CD of the Month by BBC Music Magazine.
Apart from hosting an annual summer festival of early music in Oxford, the ensemble regularly expands into Oxford's resident period-instrument orchestra, Charivari Agréable Simfonie. The orchestra has on-going collaborations with some thirty vocal groups - choral societies and professional choirs alike - all over the UK, and has been conducted by many musicians of renown, including Sir Charles Mackerras. The ensemble has appeared at all prominent venues in London, including Buckingham Palace; recent and forthcoming engagements include major festivals in the UK, and tours to Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, South East Asia, and the USA.
Kah Ming joined Morgensterns in April 2000
Kah Ming's web profile was last updated 27th Aug 2016
|" Kah-Ming is an outstanding strategist on the harpsichord and the organ, and a sagacious continuo player "
" Kah-Ming's intuitions are always captivating"
|Early Music News|
|" undoubted technical virtuosity and intellectual grasp "|
|" one of the classiest baroque bands "|
|" certainly one of the most original and versatile groups on the Early Music scene today "|
" Charivari Agréable represents a new and very exciting phase of the early music revival, one that enriches the existing repertory and can bring us ever closer to the spirit of the original music "
" ravishing sonorities and full-bodied textures "
|" their powerful cohesion, warm sound, and their eloquent authority "|
|BBC Music Magazine|
|" carved something of a niche for itself in imaginative and well-thought-out programming'; 'its work is the fruit of both scholarly research and charismatic musicianship, a combination that puts it at the forefront of period-instrument ensembles "|
|Harmonia Caelestis SIGCD049 reviews|
|Musical Opinion, no. 1443, Nov-Dec 2004|
|" This is the tenth record Charivari Agréable has made for Signum and like its predecessors this one combines joyful playing with didactic intent. As Kah-Ming Ng, the group's keyboard player explains in the disc booklet, the aim this time is to show how the cornett often complemented and substituted for the violin. The recording expresses the group's robust views about instrumentation, arrangement and even pastiche; the disc includes two suites collating fragments by various composers. Charivari Agréable makes a convincing argument that the cornett was a respected solo instrument well beyond its traditionally assigned Golden Age of the first half of the 17th-century. That argument is eloquently put by Jamie Savan's cornett playing. The creamy texture of his sound is equally at home in a toe-tapping Masque by Gregorio Strozzi, the virtuosic flourishes of Cavalli's Canzon à 3 and the cantabile demands of Bassano's Diminutions on Palestrina's Veni veni, dilecte mi - an extraordinary piece worth resurrecting by anyone.
But praise goes, too, to the inventiveness and harmonic sense of the regular ensemble members. Stradella's Sinfonia No 22, which is comett-less, still grabs attention with its weird and wonderful textures. The taut ensemble and enthusiasm conveyed by the players must widen the market for early music. "Philip Sommerich
|The Sunday Times, 16 Jan 2005|
|" The scholar-performer Kah-Ming Ng, who plays keyboard continuo here, locates these works in the "overlap of repertory for the cornett and the violin". At the dawn of the baroque age, both instruments were seen as substitutes for the human voice; and hearing the gorgeous sounds on this disc, one can imagine why. In instrumental music, cornetts and violins were more or less interchangeable, and often effectively contrasted or paired in the same piece, as here in a Sonata a tre by Cima (1610) and a Canzon a tre by Cavalli (1656). These works, with others by little-known figures such as Strozzi, Pollarolo and Farina, make for a recital of ornate, inventive delights, to which are added Ng's clever pastiches of ciaccone and bergamasche. "Stephen Pettitt|
|BBC Music Magazine, March 2005-02-02|
|" Music to chase the clouds away…
Don't be put off — behind the title from a musicology Festschrift and mail-order heritage catalogue cover lurks an outstanding disc. It's not easy to concoct a 60-minute non-stop listen from 17th-century Italian chamber music — but I shouldn't have been surprised that Charivari Agréable makes it such a breeze: ever since signing to Signum some years back it has been planning and playing some peerless programmes.
The subtitle, 'A Ray of Sunshine Piercing the Shadows', was contemporary French polymath Mersenne's verdict on Charivari's guest star, the cornett. As a diehard fellow-fancier, I've rarely heard mellifluous swing to match cornettist Jamie Savan's. In the accompanying booklet keyboard player Kah-Ming Ng makes a persuasive case for the novel combos. Ng's superbly strutting style in a 1620s Polaccha by Picchi had me dreaming of Hessian boots and a pelisse. And his ingenious medleys on popular grounds of the period give a new slant to 'fusion' — though this is no short-order snack but a feast, with substantial servings from Stradella and Cavalli proving they weren't solely vocal geniuses. Sound is a little distant and coloured but this is a recital to shaft any shadow." Nick Morgan
|Oxford Today, Hilary Term 2005|
|" For music-making joyfully alive you can rely on Oxford's Charivari Agréable, whose fabulous back-catalogue increases by two CDs yearly. The latest, Harmonia Caelestis (SIGCD049) is as good as anything they've done. The disc is built round the contrasting sounds of violin and cornett, that extraordinary leather-clad marriage of brass mouthpiece and woodwind tube, which generates curiously vocal inflections. It's conventionally played with similar instruments, but ever-inquisitive, Charivari follow an Italian recommendation of 1628 to mix it with strings.
This soundworld alone would recommend the disc, but as usual Charivari cleverly ring changes in texture. Here's a guitar chaconne imitating the gait of a 'true Spanish capon' (perhaps a castrato singer?) and there is Picchi's Ballo alla Polacha, a stomping dance performed with wild flair on the harpsichord, with the other instruments joining the fray for a final whirl. The group's philosophy, of treating the written remains of early music with the known freedoms of early musicians, brings two dance medleys. The Bergamascas include several tunes well-known from Respighi's C20 orchestral makeovers: hearing them here is like hearing agreat 'unplugged' version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. "Graham Topping
|The Telegraph, Monday 7 Feb 2005|
|" The title might not give the clearest idea of the contents of this delectable programme of 17th-century Italian chamber music featuring cornett and violin, but the combination certainly proves to be a partnership made in heaven.
The cornett's lustrous, golden tone - described by one contemporary writer as "a ray of sunshine piercing the shadows" - coupled with its clarity and agility in virtuoso passagework make it easy to understand why it was esteemed as one of those instruments that most closely mimicked the sound of the human voice.
These qualities are heard to especial advantage in Giovanni Bassano's arrangement of a Palestrina motet, where each long, slow cantabile line gradually develops into an exuberant efflorescence of ornamentation, and in Giovanni Paolo Cima's spirited trio sonata, whose playful imitative writing proves that anything the violin can do, the cornett can follow with equal panache.
Charivari Agréable's sparkling performances make for irresistibly enjoyable listening; their cornettist Jamie Savan's superb technique and truly singing tone do indeed produce a glorious ray of musical sunshine. "Elizabeth Roche
|Early Music Review, February 2005|
|" The continuo group Charivari Agréable is joined by Jamie Savan - another of the fine clutch of young British cornettists and Oliver Webber (violin) to illustrate a range of 17th-century Italian music. Jamie Savan has an airy lightness and easy facility which rests well on the ears, and Oliver Webber is a sparky violinist. In a couple of pieces the violin's duet partner is Charivari's regular violist, Susanne Heinrich. The Stradella Sinfonia is a fine example of this, building a mix of tension and easy conversation between the two, and a very successful tonal match. Two of the pieces are pastiches by Kah-Ming Ng. The Ciaccona in particular visits new realms—which are well worth visiting—and stands as a new piece as much as a pastiche. The continue in some of the more standard repertoire can be a litde monochrome - I wish that a little more of the playfulness and inventiveness in the best of the performance had leaked into the standard fare, particularly in a programme whose subtitle includes the words caprice and conceit. However, these are small quibbles and I would heartily commend the disc to anyone interested in this repertoire. "Stephen Cassidy|