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HOFMANN Denise Mei-yan

Denise Mei Yan Hofmann was born in Hong Kong. Half-Swiss, Half-Chinese, she was raised in Seoul, Bangkok, Istanbul and Hong Kong. These experiences have deeply shaped Denise's broad, highly-sensitive view of the world. Easily-adaptable and conscious of cultural and linguistic nuances, Denise values harmonic subtlety and is fascinated by accents. Writing music is Denise's way of confronting constant change - she sees music as an innate devotional practice to tell stories of brokenness and redemption.

Denise’s music has been performed at the National Opera Center, DiMenna Center for Classical Music, Spectrum and Mannes College in New York City; Asia Society Hong Kong Center and City Hall Theatre in Hong Kong; Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore; The International Dance Festival 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. Denise arranged the jazz standard Georgia on my Mind for the Johnny Rodgers Band, which was performed by the Moscow Symphony in June 2013. Denise has written incidental music for three theatre productions, including NYC production Harriman-Baines at Theatre for the New City.

Denise was selected out of 150 applicants to be a composer fellow for Bright Sheng's Intimacy of Creativity Contemporary Song Festival, held in Hong Kong in March 2017. Other awards include fellowships from Yaddo Colony, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts and the Mannes College Dean's Award; Denise has been commissioned by the New York Festival of Song, Musicus Society and the Hong Kong Composer’s Guild.

Denise started playing guitar at age 10; captivated by jazz and instrumental rock, she started improvising a year later. However, Denise only decided to pursue music and composition seriously upon graduation from Middlebury College in 2011, where she wrote her senior thesis on Protestant missionaries in the context of opium smuggling and British imperialism in nineteenth-century China.  In 2016, Denise received her M.M. from Mannes College of Music under the guidance of Lowell Liebermann.



  • “Aurora Lights” For guzheng and erhu, commissioned by the Hong Kong Composer’s Guild, 2020

  • “The Deer Enclosure” For SATB chorus, commissioned by the Hong Kong Composer’s Guild, 2019

  • “Wings” Suite for mezzo soprano, guitar and clarinet in Bb, 2018

  • “165 Gilpin St.” For solo piano, 2018

  • “Songs I sing in Waiting” For mezzo soprano, clarinet in Bb and piano, commissioned by Lana Norris, 2017      

  • “Lotus Rain” For string quartet, commissioned by Musicus Society - October 2016

  • “Songs from Wyoming” For mezzo soprano, tenor and piano - August 2016

  • “Morning Thoughts” For SATB and large ensemble - April 2016

  • “Sleep-running” For SATB a cappella – New York, February 2015

  • “A call from Les Dents du Midi” For trombone quartet – New York, November 2014

  • “dear son of memory” For solo piano – New York, September 2014

  • “Deep calls unto deep” For violin, viola and cello – New York, March 2014

  • “The Ink Dark Moon” Song cycle for mezzo soprano and piano – New York, June 2013

  • “Fireflies” For two flutes and piano – New York, April 2013

  • “3 nocturnes for piano and cello” – New York, September 2012

  • “King Herod, king no more” For brass quintet – New York, May 2012

  • “Musings for Solo Horn” For solo French horn – New York, December 2011

  • “Walkabout I; Walkabout II” For piano and flute – Middlebury, VT April 2011; version for piano and electric guitar, September 2014

  • “English Man from Canton, 1834” For 6 voices inspired by primary sources of the Opium Wars; written without absolute pitch – Middlebury, VT November 2010

  • “Jesse James’ Cautious Heart” For piano and flute – Middlebury, VT – October 2010


  • “Bare and splintered” For piccolo, viola and cello – New York, October 2014

  • “Harriman-Baines” For piano and cello. Written for an original production presented at Theatre for the New City – New York, August 2013

  • “Clear sky, water - 清天清水” For piano and cello. In conjunction with altered image of Victoria Harbor - HellHOT! Festival Hong Kong, July 2012

  • “The Titan Project” For soprano and piano with electronics. To accompany an adaptation of the Greek tragedy “Prometheus Bound” - Middlebury, VT, May 2012

  • “Vanya” Six character-inspired pieces for piano, violin and two celli inspired by Chekhov’s play “Uncle Vanya” - Middlebury, VT April 2011

  • “Freedom without walls” For keyboard and electronics produced for a video dance installation commemorating fall of the Berlin Wall as part of nation-wide 20th anniversary series – Middlebury, VT November 2009


  • “Georgia on My Mind” – Jazz arrangement for the Johnny Rodgers Band; premiered by the Moscow Symphony string section – Moscow, June 2013

  • “Gate” – Arrangement of brass quintet version of art rock band Changing Modes’ song played by Magnitude 6 in Montreal Canada, summer 2013

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