Jeffrey Ching is the composer of the critically acclaimed opera Das Waisenkind (The Orphan) which was awarded the Theater Erfurt Audience Prize (Zuschauerpreis) for the best opera production of 2009-2010. In November 2013 the two halves of his 'incantation' Diese So-Geliebte were played separately in Dessau and Magdeburg and simultaneously broadcast live by Deutschlandradio Kultur and MDR Figaro, a unique technological tour de force enabling concert and radio listeners to hear both halves as a complete score. His compositions have been featured in radio portraits on Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb) and Deutschlandfunk (DLF), and in Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.
Ching was born in Manila on 4 November 1965. His distinctive musical language owes much to the diversity of his cultural background and education. Born to a Chinese Buddhist family in the former Spanish-American colony of the Philippines, he received a Catholic education while growing up next door to his grandfather's private museum of ancient Chinese scrolls (now on permanent display in the Shanghai Museum). He began composing before he was ten and remained self-taught until the age of seventeen, when his first opera was premiered.
In the United States he studied music and Sinology at Harvard University, there receiving the John Harvard Scholarship for "academic achievements of the highest distinction" twice, and the Harvard Detur Prize, the university's oldest prize for academic excellence. He graduated with a double magna cum laude, submitting a graduation thesis on the sumptuary laws of the Ming dynasty based on extensive research into primary sources.
Afterwards he went to England and earned a BA (Honours) degree in Philosophy from Cambridge University and two master's degrees, in Philosophy and Composition, from the University of London, where he was subsequently Lecturer-in-Music for several years. He became a British citizen in 2004, but now resides most of the year in Berlin with his wife, the Spanish-Philippine soprano Andión Fernández, for whom the vocal parts in his principal works were created. They have a son and a daughter.
Ching's first creative phase was prolific, producing over 200 works in a multiplicity of techniques in which he laid the foundations for the harmonic and contrapuntal assurance of his mature compositions.
In 1998 Ching's technical versatility was finally put at the service of his widening ethnographic interests: A Philippine government commission on the occasion of the centennial of the Philippine declaration of independence from Spain resulted in his Symphony No. 3, "Rituals", which fused Balinese gamelan, Chinese Ming, and Spanish Renaissance elements into a continuous forty-five-minute collage for three orchestras and male chanter.
Following this compositional breakthrough Ching broadened his field of cross-cultural investigation even further in a series of works that aimed to dissolve the conventional boundaries between East and West, ancient and modern.
Although a European resident for more than two decades, Ching's achievements have not gone unrecognised in the country of his birth:
In 1990, 1993, and 1997 he represented the Philippines in three major cultural delegations to China, which toured Beijing, Shanghai, and Xiamen in concerts devoted to his music.
In December 1998 Ching was named one of the five outstanding young citizens of the year by the President of the Philippines, on the basis that his "works have expanded the scope and quality of Philippine musical literature, and no other [Philippine composer] has achieved such depth, dimension, and volume of work at so young an age".
In June 2003 he was awarded the newly established Jose Rizal Award for Excellence (in the category of Art, Literature and Culture) by the President of the Philippines.