The 12th Taipei International Choral Festival, which opens today, offers music lovers a rich lineup featuring six international choral groups from Bulgaria, China, Germany, Norway, the Philippines and the UK, that will cover a wide range of genres from classical, folk and jazz to modern and popular choral music.
Organized by the Taipei Philharmonic Foundation, the nine-day event runs through Aug. 5 at the National Concert Hall in Taipei and several cities and towns across the country.
“In the digital era, people can download all kinds of music and performances, but I believe that the experience of seeing a live performance is an important way of learning and passing on culture,” foundation chief executive Liu Wei-li (劉葳莉) said.
The opening concert takes place tonight at the National Concert Hall with performances by several groups, including the Eva Quartet, one of Bulgaria’s finest choral ensembles with a repertoire that ranges from folk music and church hymns to jazz and modern compositions. Also performing is the Mandaue Children and Youth Chorus, a multi-award-winning group made up of 32 children from the Philippines.
Audiences will also have a chance to enjoy the world premiere of Taiwanese composer Chien Nan-chang’s (錢南章) The 12 Animal Signs of the Chinese Zodiac (十二生肖), performed by the Taipei Philharmonic Chorus and the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan.
Hungarian conductor Gabor Hollerung will lead two local choirs and one orchestra in a presentation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Mass in C major; Op. 86 on the festival’s closing night.
Chien said his latest choral work took one year to complete and combines different musical traditions and influences. For example, a cheerful, jazzy tone is adopted in the section on the pig, while the dog section uses Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita in D minor for solo violin. For the section on the ox, dozens of cowbells from the Swiss Alps ring in harmony with Chinese copper bells.
A prolific maestro whose works cover a great variety of genres, including concertos, chamber music, choral music, opera and symphonies, Chien is noted for incorporating local elements such as Aboriginal and Hakka music, into his compositions.
“Taiwan’s composers and teachers learn their art in Europe and the US. They come back, create and teach works that sound exactly like those in the West,” the composer said. “It is important to learn Western techniques, but we must find inspirations in our own culture.”
There are also free matinee concerts at venues across the city, including National Taiwan University Hospital, the Cathay Financial Center and the National Taiwan Museum.
Meanwhile, the international choirs will tour the island, making it as far south as Kaohsiung.
In addition to the concerts, five internationally renowned conductors, including Hollerung, Theodora Pavlovitch from Bulgaria and Fred Sjoberg of Sweden, will hold a choral music camp and conduct workshops for a class of more than 60 aspiring musicians during the festival. Over the years, more than 500 youngsters have participated in the workshops, the organizers said.
For the Taipei concerts, tickets will cost between NT$400 and NT$2,500, available through NTCH ticketing and online at www.artsticket.com.tw. For more information, go to the festival’s bilingual site at www.ticf.tw.