Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chinese Classics at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

One weekend earlier this month, I attended a free outdoor concert of Chinese Classic songs, held at the Shaw Foundation symphony stage at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The event was part of the 85th anniversary celebrations of the Lianhe Zaobao newspaper.

When we got there around 5:45pm, just a couple of minutes after it had started, there were probably a few thousand people lounging on mats or simply sitting on the grassy slopes around the stage, enjoying the entertainment.

There were three key lady performers - erhu expert Ma Xiaohui from Shanghai, vocalist Christine Hsu from Taiwan, and singer Jizhe from China. Let me quote from the official SPH programme to give these ladies a more complete introduction.

Ma Xiaohui (马晓晖)
"Fresh from her successful concert in June at the renowned Carnegie Hall in New York this year, erhu maestro Ma Xiaohui from Shanghai will impress with her virtuosity. Hailed as the “Queen of Erhu” and a “national treasure” of China, Ma Xiaohui has twice been awarded first prize at the National Guangdong Music Competition. She also claimed the first prize at the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival.

She has performed with some of the most accomplished orchestras in the world including the National Symphony Orchestra of China, the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Her duet with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on the Oscar-winning soundtrack for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon also put her in the international limelight."

Christine Hsu (许景淳)
"... from Taiwan is a multi-award winning vocalist whose versatility sees her performing a wide repertoire across different musical genres from pop, jazz to ethnic folk tunes. Often regarded as “Taiwan’s most beautiful voice” by music critics, Christine Hsu has performed at major music festivals."

Jizhe (吉 喆)
"Joining Ma Xiaohui and Christine Hsu will be the talented Jizhe from China. The performer with a Masters degree in vocals from the Zhengzhou Song & Dance troupe has a popular fan base in China, and is famous for her lead roles in Chinese musicals."

The audience was treated to familiar Chinese classics such as "Wei Liang Dai Piao Wo De Sin", Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Butterfly Lovers and Jasmine Flower.

It is nice to see that some aspects of Chinese culture is still preserved in modern Singapore.

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