“Overall, I personally found the experience to be really fun! My section mates were pretty new to this instrument (Erhu) but I could teach them as I had experience. We had to synchronise our whole performance so that the music produce would not sound disjointed and we also had to take note of the dynamics, Crescendo etc. Just like our theme – ardour, the journey was very arduous as we are a new CCA.”
~Phang Kang Qu, a member of Chinese Orchestra~
On the 13th of May, EJ Chinese Orchestra put up an amazing performance entitled Ardour at the Esplanade Recital Studio, conducted by Mr Chin Yen Choong.
Opening with a familiar pop song – the impossibly catchy Havana by Camila Cabello – they started the night off on a roll by revamping its swinging, saucy jazz upbeat with the refreshing lilt of the traditional Chinese musical instrument, the 弹拨, making way for a very interesting new sound. This was followed up by the playing of Subaru on the 拉弦(laxian), a piece known for its soothing melody and simplicity, a beloved favourite of the laxian section themselves that bonded together over practicing to its sweet strains, and then, rounding off, 云裳诉, or, Robe of Clouds, as composed by Zhou Yi Guo was played by the Guzheng concerto. On the Guzheng was Pauline Lee Lin Jing, and with Phoenix Gay on the piano, a feeling of grandeur permeated the studio. The orchestra had to practice this particular song many times under the guidance of their conductor to ensure perfect synchrony. It was definitely a pretty difficult piece, but they managed to perform it flawlessly and seemingly without effort!
After the intermission, Sydney Lai Mu-En, Ang Jiayi and Pauline Lee Lin Jing performed a Guzheng piece entitled 蝶, meaning Butterfly – a Japanese Koto piece composed by Migawa. It required a lot of co-ordination and unity to be able to synchronize the piece and play it with such emotion and skill. 马兰恋歌, the Love Song of Malan, a Taiwanese aboriginal folk song of the Ah Mei tribe, was played as well, with the 吹管 (chuiguan) and 打击乐(dajile) – percussion instruments. This was a celebratory song to bring the mood up once more.
Following that, the next two songs performed were dedicated to the mothers of the orchestra: 鲁冰花, Dull-ice Flower, the theme song of a 1989 Taiwanese film, where its purpose is to express their love for all mothers; and 听妈妈的话,Listen to Mother, composed by Jay Choi in 2006, in which Teng Xin Yi put her passion into an impressive rap that won over both the hype and support of her fellow orchestra members, as well as the audience. Played with absolute fervour and dedication, one could see from how deeply every musician was immersed in the music and the affection they wished to convey to their mothers. They played the piece with absolute fervour and their immersion into the song really conveyed their affection for their mothers. Towards the end of the latter piece, all the members also came together to sing an acapella version of the song. This was, as one can tell, CO’s very own unique way to celebrate this Mother’s Day by expressing their heartfelt gratitude for their mothers.
The last song was a SYF set piece in 2017 for Secondary schools. 焰火(Flame) was inspired by Tang Dyansty poet Bai Juyi. This piece was played by the entire orchestra and reflects the ups and downs of life and represents the lives of youths and how the flame burning in all of us will flicker at times, but ultimately burns strong. Lastly, The Typewriter, was an encore piece performed with a few members of the orchestra with a bell and a typewriter as the solo instrument. Who knew a typewriter could be an instrument too? It was an interesting finale piece where the orchestra was synchronised with rhythmic typing on the typewriter. The upbeat and quick tune drives home the essence of the working day and at the end of the piece, the typer snatched the paper out of the typewriter and exits the stage, leaving the audience in hysterics and the sudden drawback to the reality of the situation.
When asked about how the audience felt about the performance, Tran Nguyen Anh Thu from 18-I4 said, “The harmonies were brilliant and all the different section could blend with one another to produce soothing music.” Megan Ong from 17-I2 also mentioned, “The members were all so in-sync, and complemented each other beautifully to play such moving, emotion-invoking melodies. You can really see how much time and effort they devoted into practicing to present a marvellous performance.”
Overall, both the audience and the performers thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the afternoon ended with the audience scurrying around the Esplanade trying to spot their Chinese Orchestra friends to take pictures and to give them flowers.
台上一分钟，台下十年功. EJCO has truly shown the amount of efforts that has gone in to putting up the performance flawlessly which allowed this concert to be a success!