Songs from the Wilderness

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 November, 2009, 12:00am

Songs from the Wilderness
Shouson Theatre
Hong Kong Arts Centre
Tomorrow and Sat, 7.30pm

The box, an alternative music theatre ensemble formed by experimental performer Kung Chi-shing and visual artist cum poet Peter Suart (above) in 1987, will showcase some of its best-loved songs this weekend.

With the classically trained Kung primarily on the violin and Suart dabbling with a variety of supporting instruments, expect a night of abstract songs from the box's repertoire of more than 300 compositions from 17 different shows.

'This is the first time we are performing old material,' says Kung. 'In the past we always performed new, original songs. So it's been quite an interesting experience rehearsing for this concert, looking back at our old tapes and figuring out how to improve the songs.'

After all, revisionism goes against what Kung stands for: an unconventional, often improvised, hybrid of pop, classical and avant-garde music. The box's ethereal songs are set against twisted stories, such as Bluebeard (performed in 2007), Beauty and the Beast (2003) and the ensemble's most popular show, Sleeping Beauty (1990), which was loosely based on both the fairy tale and House of the Sleeping Beauties by Yasunari Kawabata.

'These stories only serve as a point of departure for our music,' Kung says.

'Hopefully each song inspires certain visual ideals. But in the end if no one can see the connection between the story and the music, that's fine with me.'

The veteran says he has always been interested in combining music with multimedia, literature and paintings. So it is hardly surprising that his musical partner is a visual artist. 'I met Peter through a mutual friend, shortly after moving back to Hong Kong from Pennsylvania (where he did his master's degree) in 1987,' he says. 'We clicked. Both of us love music, but Peter doesn't have the baggage of most academic musicians.'

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