Set off on a musical journey through China

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2007, 12:00am

A remarkable sonic journey that goes from the ancient Silk Road and the Yungang grottos in Shanxi to the fishing villages of Guangdong is what the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra will be offering audiences in its Music About China concert.

The programme features six composers, five of them Chinese and one of European background. All but one of the works are being played in Hong Kong for the first time.

Conductor Yan Huichang said the concert was conceptualised as a 'journey through China', adding that the composers' highly diverse individual styles made for a musically compelling experience. 'All six composers have very different styles,' he said. 'Working with the orchestra to reflect the different styles is very challenging.'

The works include Han Lankui's Facets of the Silk Road, Cheng Dazhao's evocative Impressions of Yungang, Marcel Wengler's exciting The Magic Boat, Zhu Jianer's popular A Sorrowful Tune, Tang Jianping's dizi concerto The Song of Flight, and Wen Deqing's suona concerto Traces IV.

Pointing to the various challenges posed by each work, conductor Yan said Cheng Dazhao's Impressions of Yungang, inspired by the dancing figures in the Yungang grottos in Shanxi, merged eastern and western musical styles with a score that incorporated drums, hand-clapping and snapping.

Marcel Wengler's The Magic Boat, a narrative piece based on a Chinese folk tale, 'does not sound Chinese, nor does it follow the harmonic laws of the western tradition', the award-winning Luxembourg-based composer and conductor says in his programme notes. The work will receive its world premiere at the festival.

Conductor Yan said Zhu Jianer's A Sorrowful Tune, inspired by Guangdong fishermen songs, was a complex work that used ancient musical instruments. The two concertos feature dizi virtuoso Tang Junqiao in the work by Tang Jianping, and Guo Yazhi, the orchestra's principal suona player, in Wen Deqing's Traces IV.

'I am excited about conducting these new works. When I face a new work, it's very exciting because I always learn something new from it,' Yan said.

March 23, 8pm, Concert Hall, HK City Hall