Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Though i wasn't performing. I thought it was still quite encouraging to us. The way this person describe makes me feel happy too. hahaha!! :)
Sunday, 14 September 2008
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After the emcee gave a brief introduction, the conductor walked in and took centrestage to a welcoming applause from the audience. The concert began with a piece depicting the countryside scenes of China. It started off with a thundering roar of cymbals, timpani, and Chinese drums. I was surprised there were cellos and a double bass in the orchestra, so I guess you can't really call this a pure Chinese orchestra. However these Western instruments did blend in very nicely with the 20 or so Chinese violins. I was attracted to the double bassist who did a lot more bowing than plucking (all this while I was under the impression the double bass is supposed to be played pizzicato only) His bow was huge and the way he held it, he looked like he was sawing wood LOL.
And the programme got more interesting. The second piece was a Chinese flute concerto. That was the first time I'd seen a 3-tubed flute. The soloist made use of the lovely sweet tones to good effect. I noticed he kept jumping to another blowhole to move an octave higher. A flute and piccolo put together! This work is unmistakenly Chinese but at times it reminded me of Beethoven's Pastoral :-)
The third piece was a Chinese banjo concerto. A very lovely piece with lots of solo passages that will remind you of scenes from The Last Emperor. I was amazed by the deft fingers of the soloist. Certainly not easy to play a virtuosic piece such as this. Around this time, the person next to me began snoring, probably lulled to sleep by the gentle tremolos of the banjo. Oh God, I chose the wrong seat - bummer !
Then fourth piece came to the rescue. This loud Chinese trumpet concerto woke him up, much to my delight (^0^) The soloist was really young, couldn't be older than 13. Despite his tender age, he plays the trumpet really well. The weeping long notes in the first few bars brought Zhang Yimou films to mind. The kind that tugs at the heartstrings with stories of hardship in the mountain villages of inner China.
Yet another concerto came next as the fifth piece. I particularly liked this Chinese violin concerto / tone poem. The rhythm was rather unusual - it kept switching between 4/4 time to 5/4 time (and to 7/4 time?) until the music grew steadily to a climax. One could see the conductor's strong fist grip in the air as the melody got more and more intense. Not unlike the Western violin, the soloist made use of lots of vibrato throughout the piece, and at some point he was sliding his finger to perform a kind of glissando but only within a single tone. Maybe this is a special technique only found in Chinese music repertoire?
The last piece was an orchestral work that was once used in a national music competition in Singapore, The Vibrant River. A rather fast work with interesting melodic lines that ended with a loud bang that was sure to jolt the sleepy-eyed amongst the audience *ahem*
The crowd cheered and gave a rousing applause, and someone behind me even cheered with his whistle. Clearly the audience wanted more. Bravo, bravo! The conductor obliged by coming back to the stage with his Chinese violin to play a short but engaging concerto encore. What a marvellous way to end the hour!
Yeah, we all have at one time or another, seen Chinese orchestras perform at shopping malls, or in the school hall back when we were students, but listening to these polished musicians in a state-of-the-art acoustic concert hall from a plush seat and under conducive ligting, is a totally different aural experience altogether. Contrary to common belief, Chinese orchestras are anything but boring. I'm so glad I went to watch them play.
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See u all!!