Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summer Concerts

As I'd hoped and planned, I attended a number of various concerts this summer. Despite being busy in a city that doesn't exactly churn out exciting new music, I continue to believe that live music is an essential part of existence.

First, I went to see the album premiere show of a band called Shaolin Fez. Shaolin Fez is the brainchild of my acquaintance, American Sam Ferrer, who plays double bass in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. The music he makes with SF is a unique blend of jazz, funk, rock and world music led by talented singer Jennifer Palor and accompanied by dozens of multi-talented musicians. This was the first real “gig” I’ve attended in Hong Kong and it happened in a place called the Fringe Club. I liked the Fringe Club, with its intimate setting and well-balanced sound. Overall, this concert was great fun, and gave me hope that there are some, not many but some, unique acts coming right from Hong Kong-based pop musicians.

The next three concerts I attended were all in the Hong Kong City Hall, a well-sized concert hall in downtown HK. The first was Chu Yi-Bing and his Cello Quintet. Cellist Chu Yi-Bing is a monster, as was another performer at that concert, violinist Lu Siqing. They performed a pleasant program of classical music from various eras, and the sound of the cello is always glorious, especially five of them. It’s nice to see that classical music is alive and well on the other side of the world. All the musicians in this concert were from mainland China.

Next was “The Sound of Bamboo Music.” This was essentially twenty-odd musicians playing instruments made almost entirely out of bamboo. It’s always fun to see and hear people performing on instruments I’d never heard of before. For example, there was one that looked like a giant panpipe laid flat on a stand like a marimba. But the way to play it was to clap directly in front of the different bamboo chutes, creating distinct bass pitches. The concert was very creative and enjoyable, particularly in the fact that it was brand new, entirely Chinese and preached sustainability. They group called themselves Beijing’s Green Bamboo Orchestra.  The only downside was that the director explained everything about the group and its selections in Mandarin. I went alone so I could only guess what he was saying. Fortunately, the program had an English section so I was able to follow along to some extent.

Last, I attended the Hong Kong Bach Choir’s concert devoted to modern English composers. It was excellent, and hearing a choir brought me back to my PLU days and got me all excited about choral music again. In fact, I decided to audition for this group for the upcoming season. I made it into the Bass I section and will be a part of the group’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony come December. I look forward to performing with an ensemble again and writing more about my first participation in the HK live music scene right here on this blog at a later date!

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