The level of achievement of Taiwan’s classical musicians continues to astonish outsiders, and even many long-time residents. Right there among the leaders is the Taipei Male Choir (拉縴人男聲合唱團). It almost beggars belief that this chorus was ranked the number one male-voice choir in the entire world by the Interkultur Foundation in its latest list. Why aren’t astonishing accolades like this paraded by our government at every conceivable opportunity? Does Taiwan somehow believe that such things don’t really matter?
Anyway, they’re off again on their travels this summer when they’ll appear at the extremely prestigious Festival des Choeurs Laureats at Vaison la Romaine, a sumptuous arts event held annually at France’s premier archaeological heritage site. Before they leave they’re giving Taiwan residents the chance to hear their world-ranking sound once again, in Taipei’s National Concert Hall tomorrow night.
The event is titled The Feast of Contemporary Music (當代男聲合唱饗宴). It contains a wide range of music, almost all of it rich and strange, none of it dissonant or abstract, and a significant proportion displaying Eastern European influences.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NTCH
One of the most interesting items will be by the veteran Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, a man who believes that Finno-Ugrian folk songs from the Baltic region, dating back thousands of years, manifest themselves again through him, thus giving themselves new life. In this mystical view he’s not so much a composer as he is a medium. The Taipei choir will sing his Incantatio Maris Aestuosi from 1996, with words taken from the Finnish national epic Kalevala.
Also on the program is Dirait-on by Morten Lauridsen, an American composer of Scandinavian descent. It’s the last item from a set of pieces called Les Chansons des Roses.
Two other items to be heard have become popular outside strictly classical circles — Cantate Domino by the Lithuanian composer of church music Vytautas Miskinis (it’s even available for download on YouTube), and All That Hath Life and Breath, Praise ye the Lord by US composer Rene Clausen, which opens the program.
The concert begins at 7.30pm. NT$300 to NT$1,000 tickets are available through www.artsticket.com.tw.
Taiwan’s rapid economic development between the 1950s and the 1980s is often attributed to rational planning by highly-educated and impartial technocrats. Those who look at history through blue-tinted spectacles argue that, for much of the post-war period, the government was staffed by Chinese who fled China after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost the civil war “who had no property interests in Taiwan and no connections with a landlord class,” leaving “the KMT party-state more autonomous from societal influences than governments [elsewhere in East Asia],” writes Gaye Christoffersen in Market Economics and Political Change: Comparing China and Mexico. At the same
It’s impossible to write a book entirely in the Taokas language. There are only about 500 recorded words in the Aboriginal tongue, whose speakers shifted to Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) generations ago while preserving certain Taokas phrases in their speech. “When I first started recording the language around 1997, I really had to jog the memories of the elders to find anything,” says Liu Chiu-yun (劉秋雲) a member of the Taokas community and a language researcher. The Taokas last month unveiled a picture book, Osubalaki, Balalong Ramut the community’s first-ever commercial publication using the language. The lavishly illustrated book
Certain historical statues have been disappearing in Thailand, but they are not effigies of colonialists or slave owners torn down by protesters. Instead, Thailand’s vanishing monuments celebrated leaders of the 1932 revolution that ended absolute monarchy in Thailand, who were once officially honored as national heroes and symbols of democracy. Reuters has identified at least six sites memorializing the People’s Party that led the revolution which have been removed or renamed in the past year. In most cases it is not known who took the statues down, although a military official said one was removed for new landscaping. Two army camps named after 1932
Jason Ward fell in love with birds at age 14 when he spotted a peregrine falcon outside the homeless shelter where he was staying with his family. The now 33-year-old Atlanta bird lover parlayed that passion into a YouTube series last year. One of the guests on his first episode of Birds of North America was Christian Cooper, a black bird watcher who was targeted in New York City’s Central Park by a white woman after he told her to leash her dog. A video capturing the encounter showed the woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), retaliate by calling the police