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Chinese Culture newlight on 22 Aug 2009 07:59 pm

Voice from the mountains – Chinese Music Old and New

Edinburgh Fringe 2009 – Chinese Music Old and New
Harmony Chinese Music Ensemble
Canongate Kirk
22 August 2009

The Harmony Chinese Music Ensemble, led by Scottish composer and flutist Eddie McGuire, gave a mesmerising performance at Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile. Kimho Ip, a regular member of the Ensemble, performed a meditating piece using Chinese music instrument yangqi (杨琴) and electric sounds. Cheng-Ying Chuang, who had already given a well-received solo performance at the same venue, also joined in, playing zhongruan (中阮) and liuqin (柳琴), both of the two Chinese music instruments are rarely seen and heard in the UK.

But the star of the night is in no doubt Fong Liu, a vocalist who performed various Chinese folk songs. Initially appearing a little nervous, she soon relaxed and her piercing voice and theatrical style engaged and enchanted the audiences through the evening. Her volume of voice, which is necessary when those songs were originally sung in the scarcely inhabited mountains in the Western regions of China, seemed perfectly suited the generous space of Canongate Kirk.

While singing the mountain folk songs, her voice delivered the extremely enjoyable and touching untamed quality. It was obviously a choice made by the artist, as when she sang the encore, Love Song of Kangding (康定情歌), she abandoned the modernised, gentle version you might have heard elsewhere, and went for the raw, Tibetan style instead. She then showed her extraordinary range by singing a tender Northeastern lullaby and a smooth and soft Eastern folk song, Purple Bamboo Melody (紫竹调).

It’s a shame that Harmony Ensemble only performed one night at this year’s Fringe. Judging from the audiences’ reaction, Edinburgh will surely welcome them back.

17 Responses to “Voice from the mountains – Chinese Music Old and New”

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