As the pop music glitterati preen and prep for the glamorous 19th Golden Melody Awards (金曲獎) ceremony in a fortnight’s time, gongs in the Awards’ artistic and traditional music categories were quietly handed out yesterday at the Taipei County Government building (台北縣政府) in Banciao (板橋) without so much as a red carpet.
Young oboe player Hsieh Wan-chen (謝宛臻) was the biggest surprise winner of the evening, beating multiple Golden Melody Award-winner Ouyang Ling-yi (歐陽伶宜), the internationally acclaimed Taipei Male Choir (拉縴人男聲合唱團) and pianist Yen Chun-chieh (嚴俊傑) to walk home with the Best Classical Music Album Award.
The artistic and traditional music categories were first separated from the popular music section last year and held a month apart. This year’s ceremony attracted little media attention and some 50 percent of the auditorium’s seats remained empty. The crowd’s cheering suggested the audience was composed of nominees’ friends and relatives.
Celebrated poet and member of the literati Cheng Chou-yu (鄭愁予) picked up the Best Lyricist Award for his work on the album Travel in Dream (旅夢), a musical rendition of his poems.
“This award comes naturally after years of writing,” the 75-year-old poet said backstage. “It is an affirmation of the union of music and poetry … I think poetry comes from how poets sense and feel about sounds. To me, poetry is music.”
Taipei Male Choir beat strong contenders including nanguan (南管) artist Wang Xinxin (王心心) and Formosa Singers (福爾摩沙合唱團) in the Best Vocalist category. The 10-year-old chorus was ranked the number one male-voice choir in the world by the Interkultur Foundation in its latest list and has become a sought-after choir around the globe.
Yen Chun-chieh won the top honor of Best Music Performer. The prolific pianist won third prize at the third Tchaikovsky International Music Competition in St Petersburg, Russia, at the age of 13, after which Yen, now 25, studied under the great maestro Vladimir Krainev and honed an international reputation.
The Lifetime Contribution Award went to folk legend Chu Ting-chun (朱丁順), a Hengchun (恆春) native who has dedicated his life to teaching and preserving the peninsula’s folk music traditions.
The evening’s high point came when the 80-year-old Chu and his accomplished pupil, iconic folk singer Chen Ming-chang (陳明章), performed traditional Hengchun folk songs on the yueqin (月琴), or moon guitar.
“Whether it rains or blows strong winds, I would teach folk music. Kids who learn folk music could never turn out bad, you see,” said the white-haired master referring to Chen, who has studied the yueqin under Chu for six years.
A music fair was held outside the hall prior to the ceremony for indie record companies to promote the nominated musicians and groups. The well-intended plan to expose members of general public to the musicians missed the mark, however, as the media virtually neglected the event.
The event will be broadcast on Azio television channel (東風電視台) on June 28 from 5pm to 7pm.
The 19th Golden Melody Awards
Best Traditional Music Album
■Quest for the Garden Saunter and the Interrupted Dream (尋找遊園驚夢)
■Cheng Rom-shing Music Album (鄭榮興音樂專輯)
■Sepiuma’s Songs (Sepiuma, 唱情歌)
■Tu Ju-sung Bamboo Flute Solo Album (杜如松笛聲吹向雲水間—笛簫獨奏專輯)
The Ultimate of Peking Opera — Wei Hai-min Performance Mei Lanfang School (芳華現—魏海敏梅派經典唱段選輯)