Three weeks before the Golden Melody Awards (金曲獎) ceremony hands out gongs in its popular music section at Taipei Arena (台北巨蛋), it was the turn of the artistic and traditional music category on Saturday night at the National Taiwan University Sports Center (台大體育館).
Absent the presence of big-name stars, music industry glitterati and cheering fans, awards were handed out to serious musicians, industry professionals and educators.
This year, 63 works in a total of 14 categories were picked from 1,722 entries by a 14-member panel of judges after three rounds of jury meetings.
With nominations in five categories, The Missing Link (失落的環節) took home the Best Crossover Music Album Award for its debut eponymous work, which fuses jazz with Central Asian, Jewish and Balkan folk songs.
Taiwan-resident Martijn Vanbuel, The Missing Link’s Belgium-born bandleader, beat out strong contenders including environmental musician Matthew Lien and seasoned conductor Su Wen-Cheng (蘇文慶) to win the Best Album Producer Award for his work on the album.
Gwhyneth Chen (陳毓襄) picked up the Best Music Performer Award. The internationally acclaimed Taiwanese American pianist was the youngest laureate at the Ivo Pogorelich International Piano Competition at the age of 23, after which she studied under maestros including Aube Tzerko and Martin Canin and went on to collaborate with orchestras such as the Moscow State Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic and National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan.
“I have won many awards at international piano competitions, but I am most excited today. My mom did her best to support my musical study in the US. I hope today she feels all her hard work is worth it,” Chen said backstage with tears in her eyes.
From Wulu (霧鹿) Village in Taitung, Bunun Mountain Traditional Music Chorus (布農山地傳統音樂團) won the Best Traditional Music Interpretation Award for Wulu: A Village in the Mist (霧來了！世界的聲脈), which features the Bunun tribe’s world-renowned ritual music sung in eight-part chords and new works by contemporary musicians including cellist IO Chen (陳主惠) as well as Aboriginal musicians Leo Chen (陳永龍) and Gelresai (陳世川).
The Formosa Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe (原舞者) picked up the Best Traditional Music Album Award for Searching for Lost Footprints — Truku Music and Dance (尋回失落的印記). For the album, the group collected and recorded some 70 traditional songs in the Tatung (大同) and Tali (大禮) villages of the Taroko Tribe (太魯閣族) in Hualien.
With six accomplished musicians and music groups vying for the award, the hotly contested Best Classical Music Album gong went to clarinet player and educator Bill Chen (陳威稜). Meanwhile, the Formosa Singers (福爾摩沙合唱團) received the Best Religious Music Album Award for its What a Friend We Have in Jesus (至好朋友就是耶穌), which took six years to produce and comprises 12 hymns sung
in Hoklo (commonly known
Seventy nine-year-old Lai Pi-hsia (賴碧霞) picked up the Jury Award for her dedication to preserving, performing and teaching Hakka mountain songs and other traditional Hakka tunes.
“Hakka songs were banned for 50 years [under Japanese colonial rule], and many had disappeared. There were no lyrics, no scores. So I vowed to bring back those lyrics and scores during my lifetime so that future generations can understand Hakka culture,” the revered musician and educator said.