International violinist Lin Cho-liang (林昭亮) returns to his homeland this week just in time for the ongoing 2006 A-ha Hakka Arts Festival (2006 a-ha 客家藝術節) organized by the Council for Hakka Affairs.
It's Lin's second time to join the festival, bringing with him the world's top conductor-less string ensemble — the International Sejong Soloists from New York City — to perform a Hakka-inspired composition called Four Seasons created especially for the event by internationally acclaimed composer Chung Yiu-kwong (鍾耀光) along with a performance of Argentinean tango master Astor Piazzolla's Les 4 saisons de Buenos Aires and the Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.
Council of Hakka Affairs Vice Minister Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) praised the collaboration between the local and international talent to help to move Hakka culture a step forward, making the ancient musical form gain more relevance to contemporary society and letting more people to appreciate the colorful cultural heritage.
"The five selected folk songs in Chung's composition are all familiar tunes to the old generation. By blending the ancient with Western classical music, we hope to give Hakka folk music a contemporary look, breathing new life into the traditional tunes," Chiu said.
Being a quarter Hakka himself and also married to a Hakka woman, Lin said it means a lot to him to return to his roots and participate in the creation of contemporary Hakka music. He also expressed great gratitude to the Hong Kong-born, US-educated and Taiwan-based composer Chung, who overcomes the challenge of transforming the vocal music into instrumental sounds in a very short time for the current festival.
"The benefit to interpret Chung's composition is that I can discuss the music with him since he is still around. That's also why I like to work with contemporary composers," Lin said with a charming smile.
A music scholar and versatile composer with an oeuvre of orchestral and chamber music, traditional Chinese music, contemporary musicals and Taiwanese opera, Chung believes music is a good way to understand a culture and said Hakka folk tunes seem to him share lots of similarity with Cantonese folk music. In his contemporary version of Hakka folk melodies, Chung said he just let his feeling take the lead rather than adhering to musical formats or rules.
The ensemble will perform three separate concerts at Taichung's Chunghsing Hall (台中中興堂), Tainan's Municipal Cultural Center (台南市立文化中心) and the National Concert Hall, Taipei (台北國家音樂廳) on Nov. 26, Nov. 27 and Nov. 29 respectively.
Tickets for festival performances differ depending on the venue, but all are available at ERA ticketing outlets nationwide. For further information call Management of New Arts (牛耳藝術) at (02) 2702-5131 or visit the Web site at www.mna.com.tw.