HKJC Street Music: Experimental Series #1- Music and Spoken Word

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Apr 2
 

Jockey Club Street Music's Experimental Series is a new platform for young musicians to explore new possibilities in music-making. The inaugural event on April 2 will focus on the theme of spoken word and will feature four groups of musicians from different stylistic backgrounds. Ahead of the concert, we speak to event curator Kung Chi-shing and the four performing artists.


(From top left, clockwise) but.t, Vanissa Law, Alain Chiu and
Chen Yeung-ping

“To me, music in Hong Kong is not creative enough,” the curator of “Experimental Series #1” within the Jockey Club Street Music Series Kung Chi-shing tells us. Bringing together musicians from vastly different backgrounds, ranging from classical to rock, avant-garde to Chinese music, Kung explains that not only is the aim of the series to encourage musicians to leave their comfort zones and challenge them with new approaches in music-making, but also to generate active discussions between the musicians and the audience. In the first concert of the series, four groups of musicians will display their respective interpretations of the theme “Music and Spoken Word” to audiences and to talk about their works with them.

In Chen Yeung-ping’s interpretation to the theme, he has interestingly combined snippets of two existing pieces to form his performance. Though separately conceived and created, Chen feels that Stretch of Light, his composition for five double basses and Cloud Travel, a poem written by the Hong Kong poet Yesi, both express their longing for home whilst they were sent abroad for studies. Chen points out, “The use of double basses creates this illusion of peaceful and tranquil sounds on the surface, but in fact conveys some confusion and uneasy sounds underneath.” This particular quality highlights the juxtaposition between the calm atmosphere within a flight cabin and Yesi’s internal aching and struggles expressed in the poem.

“My piece is to express the concept of how one sees Cantonese as sound,” Alain Chiu specifies, “and to capture the essence of Cantonese expressions is very challenging. To be able to do so would be the breakthrough achieved through this performance.” With an emphasis on the minute inflections and nuances of Cantonese speech, Chiu’s work features a violinist and a speaker, with the violinist playing in response to the pitches and rhythm of the speaker’s monologue. The audience will be able to hear a musical incarnation of familiar Cantonese phases, and Chiu said he is intrigued to see the results of such a way of interaction and improvisation.

Performing in a duo, Wilmer Chan debunks the mystery that improvisation requires little practice. “Our group, including my partner Nelson Hiu, focuses on improvisation above other things,” mentions Chan. He elaborates, “The ultimate goal is to create a piece of music, in this case, I will have to practise with Nelson a lot to build up the mutual understanding between our respective musical languages to improvise something that is cohesive and constructive.” They employ syllables that perhaps bear no meanings and not from a specific language as a point of departure for their performance. Into the mix is also a host of various instruments!

The idea that improvisation needs practising is echoed by Vanissa Law. Straddling between electronic and acoustic music, she draws our attention to the importance of rehearsing for improvised music. “It’s not the structure of the piece that needs practising. It’s the system of the instrument with which one needs to be familiar, how it responds when certain gestures are performed. I can’t have full control of improvisations until then and to make my impromptus interesting.” Law aims to achieve an interactive piece, in which she will be checking performer’s frequencies when they say certain words, and employ what she collected to create her piece.

The curator Kung desires to show musicians’ works in progress, rather than the finished pieces, and hope for further development of them having discussed with audiences. Join some of the most innovative artists in the city in these informal concerts on 2nd April and be part of the creative process of the performances by raising questions and exchanging your thoughts with musicians and fellow audiences!

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