Composition Workshop by Ensemble Modern @ Lee Hysan Concert Hall. The ensemble plays almost perfectly at the first sight reading, and they take seriously to try out any strange awkward techniques. Nice to hear Wong Kong Yu’s wonderful bassoon quintet as well as works by Michael, Austin and Chris. Joanna Lee is superb as a MC and translator. Lunch with composition fellows.
Cantonese Opera at SRRSH. Took some photos.
My camera is just a pro-sumer model Nikon Coolpix P80. Difficulty faced: hand-shaking and difficult to focus in the dark environment, limited angle (I should not move around during the performance), the shutter speed is not fast enough to capture a quick motion. But the good point of this budget-price camera is its sharp colour, its ability to adjust aperture and shutter and wonderful zoom. The price is much less then a DSLR + tele-len. The solution of hand-shaking is to choose higher light sensitivity, but the noise is severe for ISO1600 or higher. I limited to use ISO400 or ISO800, but the result is sometimes blurry. But cantonese opera is easier than taking photos for dance or drama, because every action ends up with a beautiful, static posture. So at whatever moment you press the shutter, it will be a nice image. 「身段」- beautiful body skills is a quality of chinese xiqu that western drama doesn’t have.
The background music is a mixture of real instruments (erhu and percussions) and pre-recorded synthesized instruments – the music arranger as well as the leading erhu player Li is really marvellous in arranging music for cantonese opera. He is perhaps the only person who knows the cantonese opera well, and has knowledge of both orchestra as well as computer sequencing. If you only listen to the synthesized soundtrack, it may not be so “realistic”, but together with the real erhu and luogu, the result is superb. He called the performance “a cantonese opera musical”, and he don’t want just songs after song, he used some theme (or motif) to represent the persons, e.g. 江河水 was used to represent the tragic main character 田氏. As a “musical”, the performance is enriched by beautiful lighting and sound effects.
Watched a witty, innovative performance of Liu Sola’s “The Fantasy of Red Queen”. The choreographer is 江青, and the show is about 江青…what a coincidence. Imaginative mix and use of guqin music, marches during the cultural revolution, revolutionary beijing operas, tango, jazzy old tunes, cluster and other contemporary music techniques, etc. Nice to put side by side the red queen of the cultural revolution and the nurse who represented the current materialistic China. Although the red queen has died, her propaganda has brain washed a whole generation of chinese people, and the DNA of pursuing power is still inherited in every Chinese, no matter it is a socialist or a capitalist society. The only minor thing that is disturbing is too many words and too much content. Seems it is better to tell the story in a not so straight forward way, or expand the story into a 2-hour opera.
Visited another LC’s home.
Concert by 弦風樂匯. Thanks very much my friends for playing my piece 遠古 and 蜀國弦!