Though Haitang Typhoon did its best to dampen the festive spirit during the first half of the Taipei International Choral Festival, there are still several good reasons to make it to the National Concert Hall for the festival's last three days, rain or shine.
Those reasons are Denmark's Vocal Line, Canada's Winnipeg Singers and several local choral groups including the Semiscon Vocal Band, Formosa Singers, the Taipei Philharmonic Choir, and various school choirs.
Tonight's concert pairs Vocal Line with Taiwan's own Semiscon Vocal Band. The 30-member Vocal Line is dedicated to contemporary acapella ? jazz, pop and rock ? as well as some classical avant garde. If you were one of those kids in college that never missed a midnight acapella concert, you won't want to miss tonight's show, with arrangements from Joni Mitchell, Alicia Keys and more of your favorite singers. Acapella has a tendency to come out poorly in recordings, but Vocal Line's sound is stellar, which says something about how the group must sound live.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TAIPEI ARTS INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION
The three-year-old Taiwanese acapella sensation Semiscon Vocal Band is set to give their Danish counterparts a run for their money. With their creative use of voices, texture, rhythm and harmony, Semiscon takes the concept of imitating musical instruments to a new level. One of their hits is Soul Bossa Nova in which different members imitate trumpets, saxophones and a drum set. Semiscon is a group of performers as much as it is a group of singers and they get full marks for personality.
For a change of pace,
tomorrow's concert features more traditional choral music from around the world, provided by the Winnipeg Singers and the Formosa Singers. Founded in the 1930s, the Winnipeg Singers are regarded as one of Canada's finest choral ensembles with a repertoire spanning from the Renaissance to the present.
The choir's formative gigs were regular broadcasts on CBC radio in the 1970s, where they explored both sacred and secular music. Each year the Winnipeg Singers commissions new works by Canadian composers, and tomorrow night's lineup also includes Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov and US composer Samuel Barber.
The Formosa Singers, who are dedicated to "expressing the essence of Taiwan in song," will treat audiences to new arrangements of old folk songs -- Hakka, Hokkien, Aboriginal and Japanese -- and they'll throw in a few contemporary world masterpieces for good measure.
For the most acts stuffed into one night, buy your tickets for the Festival's final concert on Sunday, which brings back acts from earlier in the week such as the Parahyangan Catholic University Choir from Indonesia and the Orfeon Chamber Choir from Turkey. The Vocal Line will also be performing, as will the Taipei Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra. Solo acts include a soprano, a tenor and a rapper.
Tickets, priced from NT$300 to NT$1,500 are available through Artsticket: (02) 3393 9888, or www.artsticket.com.tw. The National Concert Hall is at 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei
Sifting through the last week or so of writing on Taiwan in the major media, the original title of this piece was going to be “Three Cheesy Pieces.” But in truth, the flow of effluent from the media exceeds my ability to represent it in a single pithy headline. It seems that the output of bad writing on Taiwan is equal to the square of the amount of attention our island nation receives. TRIFECTA OF TURGIDITY Leading off a terrible 10-day of prose on Taiwan was the The Economist’s piece, “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth” with Taiwan on the cover. The
Who would have thought that Taiwan — just over 100km from China and a few hundred kilometers away from Vietnam, which are the world’s first and second biggest consumers of pangolin scales — would become the last beacon of hope for this imperiled species? In fact, pangolins — from sub-species in Africa all the way down to Indonesia — are the world’s most highly trafficked mammal. Thought to cure anything from HIV to hangovers, ground pangolin scales and pangolin soup (the photos online are difficult to stomach) are expensive delicacies in Vietnam and China, and the rarer the species becomes,
May 10 to May 16 Many elderly people wept as the crowds flooded Raohe Street (饒河街) on May 11, 1987. It had been over a decade since the street was this busy, the Minsheng Daily (民生報) reported. Locals set up altars along the way, praying that the grand opening of the Raohe Street Night Market would reverse their fortunes. It was Taipei’s first night market with government-mandated traffic control hours, banning cars from 5pm to midnight. “This is a great way to manage a night market, and other locales should follow suit,” the article stated. There were still some kinks to
The degree of a hike’s difficulty is directly proportional to how much conversation people will engage in. Barely a peep, for example, is heard from those summiting Jade Mountain’s main peak (玉山, 3,952m). The steep ascent to the ancient Aboriginal village of Kucapungane (舊好茶, Jiuhaocha) in Taitung County finds only the most experienced energized enough to weave a tale or utter an anecdote. A hike along the Jinshueiying Ancient Trail (浸水營古道, 1,490m), however, with its moderate inclines and long stretches of mostly horizontal path, ensures that hikers will engage in all kinds of banter. And that’s the problem — if