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Classical Notes: July 28, 2011 Archive

I'll Take the Taiwanese Blend, Please

Posted at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2011 by Hans Buetow
Filed under: Fun finds

With their ears all over the world, our listeners are forever turning us on to all sorts of great things to savor, delight, and astonish.

One such listener from South Carolina recently sent us information about Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, the first and only independent professional Chinese orchestra not run by the government in Taiwan, which she stumbled upon by accident.

These beautiful pieces are familiar in scope and form with western roots and orchestral setup, but because of the instrumentation they shimmer with a wash of sounds, colors, and expressions that form a remarkably palatable and interesting blend of East and West.

The term "blend of East and West" is often employed by musical groups who are in fact struggling to smash two traditions together, and not always gracefully. But the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, with it's Western setup and (mostly) Eastern instrumentation, executes the intent of the cliché so gracefully that it feels truly like the skeleton of a larger musical idea, no more possible to remove or overtly obvious than the bones that structure the body. This "modern Chinese music orchestra" as they call themselves, "perform Chinese music as [they] think it should be performed. Normal si-zhu orchestras are restricted to traditional si-zhu forms, but the idea of [their] programme is to exploit different environments and opportunities in order to demonstrate the full range of possibilities of the beauty of Chinese music."

Such beauty, indeed.

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