I had the pleasure of seeing a very unique and brilliant musical and storytelling performance a few days ago at Masakini theatre. The trio consisted of two Chinese musicians and one opera singer. Loretta Tan on a Guzheng (3 different ones in fact), Andrew Lim on a range of different string instruments including a Pipa, (I’m sounding incredibly knowledgeable here!). The last was the wonderful instrument of the voice by Stefano Chen.
I’m not Chinese nor do I have any understanding of Chinese music nor have I ever been to China!, but I felt it very important to write a review anyway because I do think that the enjoyment of anything musical is universal and doesn’t need to backed by anything other than how it makes you feel.
In each of the 10 pieces the group performed, the audience was led into the journey by a short narrative by Stefano about the origin of the song and its importance culturally to China or the local area it was first created, as well as any other additional arrangements that the trio had decided to make to give it a new edge for this show. Following the short narrative came the song/music itself which truly transcended the senses to another level.
All musical arrangements held a special quality that moved the audience with not only the technical precision of the artists involved but by the depth of insight into the culture and stories of the time each piece had been written.
The show was 75 minutes long, just the right length for a novice like myself, and the informal fireside chat format put together by the Producer Susan Sarah John, allowed the audience to feel they had had a very intimate and unique cultural experience.
The only criticism may be that Stefano’s speaking voice was at times a little soft and so some of the information about the origin of the song was lost. But this was only a small distraction from the main events which were the songs and music.