Exotic, vibrant, expressive, superb. The Colours of the Wind Chinese orchestra night has been a wonderful night to the audience as well as to me. The night commenced with conductor Lim Jia Jiet entering the stage. The whole orchestra started off their first piece, a traditional Chinese folk song titled “Dance of the Golden snake and Drum Dance of Feng Yang”. The first piece certainly lived up to its long and fancy title, as all the different instruments in the hall were in sync with each other, producing warm, unique, vibrant and festive melodies that departed the usual orchestra performances.
The list of the performed songs comes from variety of origins, ranging from popular Chinese drama series to Western movies, and the Chinese orchestra executed each performance brilliantly, inspiring and touching the audience with each musical note.
A solo, a duet, and a quartet performed numbers, each songs being unique in their own way. Some of the highlights were: a performance by two beautiful ladies, playing their traditional Chinese instruments called GuZheng, which works like a harp. “Heart of Palms”, originally a soundtrack from a Chinese drama series Prince of LanLing (2013), was played appassionato by the GuZheng duet ladies, and personally it’s my most favourite piece of that night. Composed by V.K, a renowned Taiwanese songwriter and pianist, the performance was enchanting, as each strum struck my heart like a man in love!
I cannot help but mention that they featured two songs from a well-known Japanese composer, Joe Hisaishi. One of them was a song titled “Kikujiro Interlude” from the Japanese movie Kikujiro (1999), and the other being a song from a well-known anime movie, Princess Mononoke (1997) of Studio Ghibli. The quartet executed these pieces beautifully, and filled me, and I’m sure the rest of the audience as well, with nostalgia,
The audience was entertained by the hilarious and very passionate emcee – “the next song will make you feels like you’re horse racing!” – these words brought out the laughter among the audience as he announced the next piece: “Horse Racing”, a folk tune that originated from Inner Mongolia, played with barrel drums that gave off a vibration you could literally feel in your heart. Exciting and full of energy, and as indicated by the emcee, it immediately transformed the Great Hall as if there were horses racing around us.
Guest conductor Mr. Goh Hong Lip returned for the second time since last year’s concert, performed together with the whole orchestra a music piece from the soundtrack of a Chinese reality TV show Where Are We Going, Dad? (2013-Present). The whole orchestra, a combination of musicians from 3 different learning institutes, braced themselves and played con spirito under Mr. Goh’s guidance.
The last song was none other than the award winning piece from the popular Disney cartoon movie, Pocahontas (1995), which was also the theme for the night, “Colours of the Wind”. This piece was adapted to Chinese orchestra music by Hong Kong’s Chew Hee-chiat and was performed magnificently, this time by the whole orchestra, stunning the audience!
But that’s not the best part of the night: as the audience yelled for an encore, the Chinese orchestra surprised them with another song. The famous song “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, widely known for being featured in the last scene of the Fast & Furious 7 (2015) movie franchise, was presented as a farewell for the late actor Paul Walker, and to the audience with the same intention. It was executed to perfection and was fitting as the final performance and encore of the night. While some of the musicians are on their final year at university, it must’ve been difficult for them to play that song, knowing that we won’t see them again.
The Chinese orchestra night this year was definitely well executed, and the audience most definitely felt the exotic taste of traditional Chinese Instrumental music and melodies. Knowingly how wonderful the concert was this year, music lovers should totally look forward to the next one, organised by the talented musicians of UNMC Chinese Orchestra and friends. See you again!
By Bryan Stacy Simon