Mid-Summer Taiwanese Fusion Concert

Article by Jasmin Justo
Photo by Michael Yu

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York hosted a Mid-Summer Taiwanese Concert on July 22. It was a spectacular concert performed by 15 extraordinary musicians from an array of backgrounds. These 15 accomplished musicians played traditional Taiwanese songs infused with the groovy tune of swing to create unique compositions in celebration of Taiwanese culture.

The concert began with a short introduction by Diana Lee, the founder of AsianInNY who was the MC of this special event and the Ambassador of the Taipei Cultural Office, Mr. Paul Wen-liang Chang. Mr. Chang gave a short speech congratulating the musicians for their hard work and dedication in creating the music for this special occasion. He also praised the work of Ya Ting Huang for the production of the event and Yu Hsien Wei for his audio engineering.

For their first song, musicians Lydia Yo Lin Wang (violin), Wei Yang (viola), Andy Lin (erhu), Fung Chern Hwei (violin) and Yi Wen Ho (cello), performed “Dark Sky”. “Dark Sky” is a Northern Taiwanese folk song that tells the two tales. The first tale is about an elderly couple arguing on how to cook a dish, conveyed with the deep tunes of the cello and viola. The second tale is about the farmers optimism daily life portrayed with the lively upbeat tunes of the erhu and violin.

“Yearning for the Spring Breeze” is a traditional Taiwanese folk song about a women’s feelings of love and her trouble expression such feelings. Arranged by Yi Hsuan Chi played in piano by Sobina Yi-Hsuan Chi, the up and downs in tempos convey the feelings of happiness, sadness, and most of all the agony of mixed feelings of a lover.

“The Grasshopper Taunts the Rooster” is a Taiwanese folktale of an overconfident grasshopper that teases the rooster for being slow but ends up as his snack. Takafumi Suenagai playing piano and Aaron Bahr playing the trumpet play this funny folktale with an upbeat tune. During the performance, you can hear the dialogue conveyed between the two characters as the grasshopper’s bubbly tune taunts the bellows of the noble rooster.

Following the upbeat song is the classical Chinese folk song “Jasmine Flower” which dates back to the Ching Dynasty. The pentatonic melody praises the beauty of the jasmine flower and has taken on various forms of lyrics over the centuries. For this performance, Lydia Yo Lin Wang (violin), Wei Yang (viola), Andy Lin (erhu), Sobina Yi-Hsuan Chi (piano) and Yi Wen Ho (cello) played the melody on western instruments. Andy Lin played the erhu, a traditional Chinese string instrument. Together, they created a sweet mellow song expressing the sweet fragrance of the flower, captivating the audience. During the intermission, “Beautiful Grain” is an aboringal folk song from Pinuyumayan people of the Taidong region is a tribute to the young people who fought on the battle of August 23, 1958. The lyrics tell the story of the harvest season and their longing for home. After “Beautiful Grain”, Andy Lin played a special Taiwanese folk song with his erhu, highlighting his magnificent repertoire and ability to play a wondrous song by memory.

“Love Year Round” is the first released in 1938 about the stages of love in the four seasons. The song is played in piano by Takafumi Suenaga and Brian D. Plautz with saxophone. Between the two instruments as the saxophone’s soft bellows woes the piano’s lively tune making it a beautiful harmony.

“Summer Rain” is a children song with two stories. The first story is about a fish that is going to ask for his bride hand in marriage in the summer rain. The second story is a about a small bird who gets lost in the summer rain. Sobina Yi Hsuan Chi (piano) performed the song and David H. Mensch played the bass. Together they made an uppity tune suitable for a smooth jazz dance that went well with the fish’s happy occasion and a mellow beat for the bird’s distress.

“Lemongrass” composed by Lydia Yu Lin Wang, uses the jazz harmony as a concept to create a song about a colorful journey full of sentiment and surprise. Performed by Lydia Yo Lin Wang (violin), Fung Chern Hwei(violin), Andy Lin (erhu), Fung Chern Hwei (violin) and Yi Wen Ho (cello), the different range in tempos and beat evoked various feelings of dance, fluidity, and harmony with the sweet tune of the violins and deep tempo of the cello.

“An Old Train Song” arranged by Lydia Yu Lin Wang, is a song about the train’s journey during the expansion of the rail system on Taiwan’s east coast. The song was performed Lydia Yo Lin Wang (violin), Fung Chern Hwei(violin), Andy Lin (erhu), Fung Chern Hwei (violin) and Yi Wen Ho (cello). With a uppity beat and lively tune from the violins accompanied by the cheerful cello, the audience can imagine the train’s delightful journey.

“Blossom in a Stormy Night” is a song originally written in 1934. The song is about a young girl who moves to the city and falls in love with a man but is rejected. Arranged by Amos Ang, he played the piano and Yi Wen Ho played the cello, making a lively conversation between the two characters of this heartbreaking drama.

The stunning concert was followed by a rooftop after party where the audience could meet with the musicians in the delightful summer evening.

AsianInNY

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