The Asian Composers League was founded in 1973 with the purpose of promoting the art music activities in Asian countries, as well as fostering mutual exchange between these countries.
Hong Kong composer and ACL Honorary Member Doming Lam wrote, in his article ‘The Year of Deciding on Course’:
From 12–14 April 1973, the inaugural meeting of the Asian Composers League (ACL) was held in Hong Kong. There were three delegates from Japan led by Professor Yoshiro Irino, six from Taiwan led by Professor Hsu Tsang-Houei and six from Hong Kong led by Professor Lin Sheng-Shih.
Founders of the ACL, at the 1st ACL Conference/Festival (from L–R): Day Jin-chung, Doming Lam, Chen Chien-hua, Hwang Yau-tai, Lin Sheng-shih, John Sturman, Wen Loong-hsing, Yoshiro Irino, Hsu Po-yun, John West, Tomii Renzan, Wong Yuk-yee, Hsu Tsang-Houei, Lin Tao-sang, Kei Shang-tong, Yoshiakira Nabeshima, Fan Mang-long, Chan Ho-choi. (Absent: Tanketsu Ishikawa)
The following meetings in Kyoto in 1974 and in Manila in 1975 set the path for a flourishing organization. Doming Lam continues:
Subsequent Conferences and Festivals in Taipei (1976), Bangkok (1977), Seoul (1978) gradually added more emphasis on the importance of the ‘friendships’ as one of the features of our gatherings. More free lunches, gala dinners, sight seeing etc became an integral part of the Festival. On one hand these gestures reflected the hospitality customary of the Oriental tradition… However, in doing so, it urged hosting countries to reorganize the local government, culture sectors and other professional performing groups.
The organization of the ACL Festival and Conferences in subsequent years was by many distinguished composers including chairpersons Lucrecia R. Kasilag (Philippines), Sung-Jae Lee (Korea), Ramon P. Santos (Philippines), Isao Matsushita (Japan) and Committee Members Doming Lam (Hong Kong), José Maceda (Phillipines), Lin Sheng-Shih, Sven Libaek (Australia), Toshiro Mayuzumi (Japan), Richard Tsang (Hong Kong), Eric Gross (Australia), Jack Body (New Zealand), Ma Shui-Long (Taiwan), Weerachat Premenanda (Thailand), Kyungsun Suh (Korea), Wing-Wah Chan (Hong Kong), John Elmsley (New Zealand), Denise Hulford (New Zealand), Jae-sung Park (Korea), Chan-Hae Lee (Korea), Chino Toledo (Philippines), Dan Yuhas (Israel) and many others, all of whom have worked hard to organise their respective ACL Conference and Festivals. Today the Asian Composers League is the most vibrant and influential contemporary music organization in the Asia-Pacific region.
Concerts at ACL Conference and Festivals are unique in that they encourage performances of traditional music of the Asia Pacific region, and also encourage performances of contemporary art music which uses both Western and Asian Pacific instruments and influences. These concerts are an invaluable resource for experiencing the evolution of new musical forms and expressions. According to esteemed Filippino composer and ACL Honorary Member José Maceda, this ‘source of musical composition is a product not only of the so many groups of instruments in Asia, but also views about myths, animals, intelligence number among the many cultures and languages of the region.’ (‘Departure for a New Music Expression’)