Owen Ho Chee Kin was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and has been playing the chromatic harmonica since the age of 14. By the age of 20, he already possessed an impressive resume of musical prizes and concert appearances. He has established himself as one of the leading harmonica players of his generation and has long had a reputation for astonishing his audiences with his musical authority and blistering virtuosity. Chee Kin has been long in demand internationally, appearing regularly as a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician at many of the world's major musical venues and festivals.
He is an award winner in numerous competitions including the 2000 International Harmonica Competition in the town of Bournemouth, England. Most notably he was awarded First Prize in Solo and Trio at the International Harmonica Competition, and he also awarded as an Overall Champion for the New Millennium Player at the young age of 20. Most recently in 2009, he was awarded Champion of Trio at the World Harmonica Festival in Trossingen, Germany. In 2002, he received a gold medal in the Small Ensemble category at the 4th Asia Pacific Harmonica Competition and Festival in Atsugi, Japan. In the Malaysia Book of Record, he has been named as the “First to Represent Malaysia in International Harmonica Competition” as well as having given the “Longest Harmonica Performance, playing non-stop for 24 hours.
Owen Ho was named as the Asian Rising Power Star by the Hong Kong Harmonica Association for 2004, and since then he has performed a recital tour which included the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Yuen Long Theatre Auditorium, and Hang Zhou Theatre (China). Owen Ho has also performed in numerous concert venues spanning across Asia, namely Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. He is often invited by local radio stations for interviews and by TV media for live performances, e.g., the Phoenix Media 30th Anniversary Celebration, TV1 Hujung Minggu Malaysia, and Astro.
In July 2007 he released his first CD album, “Owen Harmonica,” which sold out within 3 months. At the same time, he has developed a series of chromatic harmonica instructional syllabi from first grade to college-level, the first formal curriculum for chromatic harmonica playing in the world.
In 2010 and 2012, the Singapore & Malaysia Harmonica Association invited him as a guest performer as well as a judge for chromatic harmonica, diatonic, and harmonica ensemble. In 2012, at the 9th Asia Pacific Harmonica Festival, Owen Ho was invited to compose a chromatic harmonica test piece for the chromatic elite category. Owen Ho produced an extraordinary composition and created a new technique which requires a harmonica player to have fantastic virtuosity to handle. The technique calls for the player to hold a minim note and, simultaneously, play a staccato note below the minim. At that festival, Mr. Ho premiered his new composition in the harmonica master concert after the competition ended.
In 2015, Owen Ho was invited to perform at the Classical Excursion for Franck Sonata. The piece that he played was originally written by César Franck for violin, but Owen Ho took the challenge to master the violin technique on the harmonica and performed the whole sonata that night. It was a great hit that night, with the audience amazed that this sonata could be performed so well on the chromatic harmonica.
In 2016, Owen Ho was invited by Hong Kong Pan Asia Orchestra to do two live performances on January 29 and 30 at Sha Tin Town Hall and Yuen Long Theatre. This conductor for this concert was Mr. Fan Tao, a great master conductor in Beijing. Owen Ho chose a favorite harmonica piece by Michael Spivaskosky and Robert Farnon, “Harmonica Concerto & Prelude & Dance.” He ended the performance with his own composition, “Love of Hope,” the first piece that he wrote during his study in UCSI Music College.
Later that same year, Owen Ho was invited by Beijing Concert Hall to give a solo concert on November 4. The entire audience was amazed by his playing style and musicality, as he had chosen a wide-ranging repertoire from the classical work of César Franck and a world harmonica championship test piece by Pete Pederson to modern music, including George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” In the first half he played with piano accompaniment, and the second half with string quintet accompaniment. He ended the performance with Gordon Jacob’s “Five Pieces,” a specially composed work for string quintet and chromatic harmonica. Owen Ho brought the house down, and drew a strong message from the audience that they hoped he would perform again in Beijing. His performance video was spotted by Malaysia TV station RTM 2 and excerpted on the TV news.
In 2017, Owen pioneered chromatic harmonica study on a tertiary level at the UCSI University (Malaysia), where music majors could choose the harmonica as their major instrument.
In August 2017, Owen Ho collaborated with the Hong Kong Children’s Symphony Orchestra and perform in Penang Malaysia at University Science Malaysia’s Budaya Hall, as well as at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music’s Grand Hall in Singapore. He played “Toledo,” a special harmonica composition with Egyptsy’s style by James Moody. Audiences continue to be amazed by the skill and technique that he displays with his repertoire.
Award & Achievement
Aug 2018 - 12th Asia Pacific Harmonica Festival 2018 Beijing
( Test Piece composer for Chromatic Open categry - Harmonica Fantasy)
( Judges and performance in Master Chromatic Concert )
Jan 2017 - Chromatic Harmonica Bachelor program - UCSI
( Founder of the chromatic harmonica Bachelor program )
Nov 2009 - Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor ( the sixth Prime Minister wife of Malaysia )
( Recognition of achievement award )
Oct 2009 - World Harmonica Festival 2009 – Trossingen Germany
( Champion in Harmonica Trio open category)
Aug 2007 - Dato' Sri Liow Tiong Lai Minister of Transport, Malaysia
( honour as "Best role model of youth" )
Jun 2006 - Malaysia Book of Records
( First to Represent Malaysia in International Harmonica Competition )
Aug 2002 - The 4th Asia Pacific Harmonica Festival and Competition ( Japan )
( Gold Medal in small ensemble - Open Category )
( Silver Medal in “Free Style” - Open Category )
Oct 2000 - University College Sedaya International ( UCSI )
( pleased to award with a full scholarship in pursuance of music program )
Sept 2000 - International Harmonica Festival and Competition
( Overall Champion for the New Millennium )
( honour as “The Harmonica Player of the New Millennium” )
( Champion in Solo Chromatic - Open Category )
( Champion in Trio - Open Category )
Aug 2000 - The 3rd Asia Pacific Harmonica Festival and Competition ( South Korea )
( 1st runner up in Solo Chromatic - Open Category )
( Merit in 10 holes Blues Harp Harmonica - Open Category )
( Merit in Trio - Open Category )
Feb 1999 - The Star Education Fund
( pleased to award with a scholarship in pursuance of music program )
Aug 1998 - The 2nd Asia Pacific Harmonica Festival and Competition ( Malaysia )
( 1st runner up in Blues Harp Harmonica - Open Category )
( 2nd runners up in Solo Chromatic Harmonica - Open Category )
( 2nd runners up in Harmonica Duet - Open Category )
( 2nd runners up in Harmonica Quartet - Open Category )