Monday, May 2, 2011

Taipei Chinese Orchestra announces with Sunrise Records the release of 2nd CD under BIS label

By Nancy T. Lu
“Harmonious Breath,” the Taipei Chinese Orchestra’s second of four crossover collaborations earmarked for recording release under the BIS label, is now available in the market.

Chung Yiu-kwong (shown in right photo with designer Sophie Hong) as director of the orchestra keeps up the drive to go international and make far-reaching impact through the TCO’s new recording release featuring French saxophone player of renown Claude Delangle as soloist and Tianjin-born Shao En (shown below wearing new Sophie Hong outfit) as conductor.

“Sunshine on Taxkorgan for Soprano Saxophone and Chinese Orchestra” arranged by Chen Gang and orchestrated by Chung Yiu-kwong in the new release originally had violin music. Delangle listened closely to the original music as well as the erhu transcription. He, too, had to find the saxophone technique to replace the bowing of the string instrument.

Composer Chung Yiu-kwong treats the saxophone like a modern guanzi. Delangle seeks to have the saxophone pay tribute to a distant cousin, the guanzi. In fact, he studied the traditional phrasing of the instrument with Li Guoying, a master, during his working trip to Beijing in October last year.

Managing music in different ways, using old tools, has been Delangle’s preoccupation for some time now. With the saxophone, changing the mouth piece can turn it into a different instrument, according to Delangle.

The CD repertoire which was performed and taped at a concert at the Zhongshan Hall in Taipei with Shao En as conductor last December ranges in style from traditional to contemporary. Chung Yiu-kwong’s two original selections, “Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chinese Orchestra No.1” and “Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chinese Orchestra No.2” can be described as less like Chinese music. Delangle previously played the first piece with the Taipei orchestra at the National Center for Performing Arts in Beijing in October last year.

Also in the CD is Tian Lei-lei’s “Open Secret Concerto for Saxophone and Chinese Orchestra.” This piece was commissioned by the French Culture Ministry last year. Tian told Delangle that “the saxophone is the only Western wind instrument which with ease produces the glissandi that are almost indispensable in Chinese music.”

Another traditional piece in the recording is Peng Xiuwen’s arrangement of “River of Sorrow for Soprano Saxophone and Chinese Orchestra.”

Two more TCO CD albums to be launched in due time will highlight trombone artist Christian Lindberg and percussionist Evelyn Glennie respectively.

The amazing Pearl Lin (seen below with Chung Yiu-kwong) of Sunrise Records resurfaces after a year of complete absence due to health reason to celebrate another fruition of her years of hard work.

Lin, “superwoman” to those who know her, has spent years giving recording breaks to many of Taiwan’s very own musicians, including composers and performing artists. She dares to tread on new grounds, courageously financing projects with uncertain market acceptance. Because of her great love for Taiwan, she keeps coming up with new ways to help give exposure to local musicians, thereby finding her niche in promoting Taiwan’s talents for world appreciation.

Lin as the prime mover behind Sunrise Records deserves credit for bringing about TCO’s link-up with the Sweden-based BIS.

Not a few decision-makers behind international record labels are Lin’s business partners and even friends. Sunrise Records markets Telearc, Harmonia Mundi and Putumayo recordings, among others, in Taiwan.

With the growing interest in world music as a modern-day phenomenon, Lin sees no reason why the Taipei Chinese Orchestra with gifted and prolific composer Chung at the helm should continue to stay away from the international spotlight and remain contented with a limited local audience.

Sunrise Records is right now even keeping on the front burner negotiations for producing under another international music label a DVD complete with video for the TCO.

The TCO with Chung as baton-wielder will embark on a five-city European tour early next year. New looks for the orchestra members will shortly be introduced to lend freshness and style to the TCO. No less than top Taiwan designer Sophie Hong is to dress up the musicians in innovative Chinese attires.

Meanwhile exciting new programming to spring on TCO’s many fans will stay a priority of the orchestra. Creating new and changing music genres for the Chinese orchestra, in Chung’s thinking, will go a long way towards literally helping the TCO get noticed and go global.

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