Please help me give comments on this paper. Thanks so much :)
Topic: Visit at least two concerts and write a report based on the concert, including the music, its performers, the audience, the instruments, the concert programme (notes etc.), the venue, your critique of it etc.
- This October marked my participation in two concerts: G (not so) Minor, and the concert by the Shanghai Quartet. Perhaps, this will become one of the most memorable events that happened in my student life.
- Both of the concerts were performed with Western musical instruments which are cello, piano, viola, and violin. While the "G (not so) Minor" was genuinely Western music, the concert by Shanghai Quartet had a section performing Chinese music with Western musical instrument which was so breathtaking and impressed audience so much. In this paper, both concerts will be discussed under the perspective of "musicking" (music is what people DO); some pieces that were more impressive to me would be more excessively mentioned. At the end of the day, I additionally convey in this paper some of my (quite innocent) feelings of a newbie to music and invaluable experience which I can achieve after really getting involved with music in recent days.
- Shanghai Quartet is a string quartet formed in 1983 that makes up of four members (Weigang Li and Yi-Wen Jiang play violin; Honggang Li plays viola and Nicholas Tzavaras plays cello). Shanghai Quartet is renowned for their passion in playing music, technique, and multicultural innovations. They have succeeded in passing over musical genres from traditional Chinese folk to masterpieces of Western music. On the nineteenth of this October, 2010, audience had chance to appreciate the performance of Shanghai Quartet which took place at Conservatory Concert Hall (National University of Singapore). There are four sections in the program of the event; three of which were Western music and the other was Chinese music: compositions of Yao Dance, Shepherd's Song, and Harvest Celebration. In general, the performance of Shanghai Quartet was so brilliant and totally inspired all the audience. And of all the pieces performed on that day, I was most impressed by Yao Dance although I did not know the reasons at that time. After the concert, the rhythm of the piece was still there in my memory and somehow I was in illusion with what appeared in my mind at the time I listened to the music and watched people playing it. I made effort to know more about this piece and realized that "Yao Dance" is one of the best known Chinese instrumental compositions of the second half of the twentieth century although it is now also internationally played with Western instruments. In concert by Shanghai Quartet, at the beginning of Yao dance, the violinist (viola) and cellist played first. The rhythm was rather slow, soft and peaceful at that time. The second violin now began with some smooth and expressive melodies that were so touching. However, the theme suddenly changed into being faster and rougher in the pace. But this change did not take much that time; it then turned back with the smooth rhythm as its first nature. When the composition was coming to an end, the whole quartet joined together to create the deep resonant notes, reaching and ending at the climax of the composition. When I was listening and enjoying this piece, naturally, some scenery behind the musical theme came into my mind. Those were the images of a group of people dancing together and enjoying the festival in a peaceful picture and dreamlike atmosphere with moon, stars, forests and dim lights from their lanterns. Maybe I was somehow affected by the name of the song "Yao dance". I cannot say for sure; however, I think rhythms of the piece did the most part in having an impact on my mind rather than the composition's name only. The rhythm is smooth when Yao villagers began their festival and dancing performance of beautiful girls. The pace of melodies becomes faster and tougher when more and more people participated in the performance and some men began their flirting to those nice girls. The vivid and passionate theme comes back when a romantic love story was on the glow of dawn. When that love story was in bloom is when the composition reaches the climax. Perhaps, I have been absolutely in love with those obsessing melodies of Yao dance after the concert.
- To my view, besides the nature of music itself that attracted and absorbed the audience, the ways the performers expressed their emotions in the performance as if they had been living their life in the real story also kept the audience being hook on what they were doing on the stage. One more important factor that made Yao Dance, as well as Shepherd's Song and Harvest Celebration absorptive is that these songs were mostly based on folksongs which are accessible, expressive and enjoyable for general audience.
- By enjoying this concert, I realized Chinese soul was still there in the song though it was played with various types of instruments. However, there is no deny that different instruments can bring the audience different feeling about the piece. In this case, I also searched for "Yao dance" piece that had been played with Pipa and then attempted to compare with itself when it was being played with violin, viola and cello by Shanghai Quartet. To some extent, Western musical instruments sound more harmonious and melodious, bringing the feelings of continuous pleasant while Pipa or Oriental instruments conveyed the breath of tradition. However, whether they are played by what instruments, they have conveyed and described many aspects of life and every one of any nationalities, genders or ages can understand this. It is like the fact that I am not Chinese or Western people but I can felt, somehow understood and comfortably enjoyed the song. That is the power of music, which erases all the boundaries and keeps human kinds closer and closer.
- On the day of the concert, there were not only adults, but a lot of high school students coming there as well. They occupied all the first three lines of chairs in the theatre. This attracted my curiosity and I could not stop myself from accessing and having a conversation with them when the concert finished. As known, they were all from Saint Anthony's Canossian Secondary School, kind of art school in Singapore. Although they were still young, they had experience in musical performance. When asked how they felt about this concert, they did not hesitate replying that "Great!" They also excitedly told their story beforehand when they practiced performing with guitar. It took them more than a week with just a five - minute performance while here in this concert; the performers were so great, to their view. They admired the performers so much.
- The second concert I had opportunity to join in was "G (not so) Minor" by Li Wei Qin (cellist) and Albert Tiu (pianist). The first thing that absorbed me to this concert was its name "why is it called "not so"?" Some of my friends who had experience and music background said that there must be creativity of people who arranged this composition. There are three sections in this program which included masterpieces by Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninov, three of the most beloved composers of all time performed from the cello repertoire.
- Of all pieces, I was most naturally attracted by Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19 III Andante. I could see the mournful scenery behind the music theme. It reminded me of my painful memories in the past. Very first sounds of the cello on the meticulous pace of piano brought me back the time when my family had been in poverty and homeless twenty years ago. There were neglect and scorn from relative and friends while there were no basic needs satisfied at that time. The ways Li Wei Qin performed was so breathtaking and the way Albert Tiu accompanied the cellist was astonishing. The moment when the accord became more and more jarring in the middle of the piece is also the time when I was brought back to the most miserable memory. Perhaps, not only music that played the major part in influencing my mind, but the way Li Wei Qin and Albert Tiu, especially Li Wei Qin expressed so vehement feelings also had an impact on my thoughts as well. I could even see his frowning, and smiling when performing the piece. It was his passion that spread over the theatre, which kept the audience speechless and amazing. When the performance had been done, both the performers and audience kept silent for a while and then the theatre burst into endless applause.
- Maybe Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19 III Andante was an exception to me when all the feelings and imaginary could naturally and easily approach my memories like that. Frankly speaking, I used to encounter difficulties in listening to Western symphony. I could not feel, be confused by so complicated compositions, or even distracted when listening to music and doing other things at the same time. However, it was different while I listened to Asian music, like Vietnamese or Chinese music. In this case, it was easier for me to be accessible to Yao Dance rather than other compositions in "G (not so) minor" concert.
- This can be attributed to the culture in which I was born and grown up. Actually, I seldom listened to Western symphony by an orchestra in my daily life when I was a child until recently; instead, I often (both consciously and unconsciously) listened to Asian folksongs. Asian music and Chinese music in particular naturally connects with my memories and almost all things that I used to, so it is easier to build up a story or imagine and understand what behind the music. Once we can understand or really get involved in something, we can be more accessible to it. Therefore, I believe that it can be always possible for a "newbie to Western music" like me to truly be familiar with, understand, enjoy and perform music although it takes time to do so. Music herself does welcome people who consciously or unconsciously approach her magnetic beauty.
- Frankly confessing, this was the first time I had ever been to a concert. That was also the reason why I mentioned that these concerts, especially Yao Dance and Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19 III Andante, would become my most memorable events in my student life. In my opinion, the best value I can achieve after all is my appreciation for music. Beforehand, whether I liked a piece or a song or not much depended on the rhythm of the songs and how my feeling was at that time: happy or sad, peaceful or nervous. I never cared about other factors that contributed to a piece, like whether it was played by what instruments, how people played it, what content the song or the piece conveyed behind, when, where and why people created such compositions and so on. After a period of time seriously examined and enjoyed such pieces of music, now, I can better gain my understanding about music and acknowledge that "it is not that simple to understand music as the way normal people often say". In addition, what I can achieve after all is the perspective that music has no borders, or even breaks the limit. Whether people like or are familiar with this kind of music or not much depends on themselves: their cultural background, experience, etc. not because of the limit of music in conveying ideas. More than that, music can keep people closer and heal the pain. Truthfully, I haven't listened to Yao Dance or Andante before, but when I listened to them, I could somehow envision what were happening there in the music. They reminded me of past memories, but then used their nature of smoothness to heal every pain inside.
- Thank to this paper, I had chance and motivation to be more accessible to music. As I have mentioned before, appreciation for music and better understanding of music are the most invaluable accomplishments that I can achieve after all.