UP­CLOSE: WEST­ERN DISTRICT

HK Magazine - - CULTURE -

HK Mag­a­zine: How did you get started?

SY: We met through friends in Hong Kong a few years ago, and started up in 2014 when we found we had the same in­ter­est— find­ing cre­ative ways to make clas­si­cal mu­sic con­certs a so­cia­ble and fun gath­er­ing that au­di­ences can dis­cover or­gan­i­cally. Our aim is to at­tract a di­verse au­di­ence: From young to old, folks who are al­ready clas­si­cal mu­sic lovers, and also peo­ple who may not nor­mally go hear Brahms.

HK: So what makes your gigs dif­fer­ent from a reg­u­lar old clas­si­cal con­cert?

SY: Our shows are all about ex­plor­ing the world of clas­si­cal mu­sic, and we al­ways cu­rate a cre­ative mix of works that show the range of what clas­si­cal mu­sic has to of­fer. We’ve done ful­l­length cham­ber mu­sic works along­side ex­per­i­men­tal elec­tronic im­prov. One time, I laid sheets of pa­per on the strings of the pi­ano to cre­ate a rat­tling sound ef­fect. Our amaz­ing singer, Sarah Martin, even screamed into the in­side of a grand pi­ano to cre­ate a res­o­nant sound.

MJ: [For the up­com­ing Bach show] I’ve stud­ied Baroque per­for­mance prac­tice and will be play­ing the vi­ola d’amore— an in­stru­ment which was com­mon in his time.

SY: So “Bach to the Fu­ture” is pretty rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the kind of pro­grams we’d like to present. We think it’s a fun

Con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal group West­ern District (clock­wise from right: Sarah Martin, Sophia Yan and Mon­ica John­ston) gives Baroque mu­sic a mod­ern spin. Ahead of their lat­est show, “Bach to the Fu­ture,” Sophia and Mon­ica talk to Xavier Ng about up­dat­ing Bach, cre­at­ing new twists on 90s hits and their up­com­ing avant-garde projects.

jux­ta­po­si­tion of old and new. Plus, the Baroque era has in­spired much of the mu­sic that to­day’s com­posers are writ­ing. It also is an op­por­tu­nity for amaz­ing mash-ups—we won’t give it away, but let’s just say we have a pretty stel­lar Bach-style ver­sion of a very well-known 90s pop hit.

HK: What do you think of the Hong Kong mu­sic scene? SY: It’s amaz­ing! There’s more and more ev­ery day—we re­ally love see­ing the com­mu­nity grow, and are ex­cited to be con­tribut­ing to what’s be­ing cre­ated in Hong Kong. We also think it’s a great in­cu­ba­tor for ex­per­i­ment­ing. In our experience thus far, the Hong Kong au­di­ence has been quite re­cep­tive to check­ing out our new projects, as well as ideas from other artists.

HK: What’s next for the group?

SY: We have a busy year ahead! “Bach to the Fu­ture” kicks off our year-long Fringe se­ries. One of the high­lights is our April pro­duc­tion of the two-per­son cham­ber mu­si­cal “John & Jen,” scored beau­ti­fully for pi­ano, cello and per­cus­sion. The story is about a fam­ily’s ever-chang­ing re­la­tion­ships. We’re also re­ally ex­cited to present the world premiere of a mul­ti­me­dia project, “City Im­pres­sions,” in early April. The per­for­mance pairs Hong Kong pho­to­graphs by David Clarke with sound­scape vignettes—am­bi­ent city sounds wo­ven into orig­i­nal mu­sic com­posed by Joyce Tang—that we will per­form live. It’ll be sim­i­lar to go­ing to a silent film with live mu­sic, but with a con­tem­po­rary twist.

Check out “Bach to the Fu­ture” on Jan 29 at 9pm. Fringe Club, 2 Lower Al­bert Rd., Cen­tral, 2521-7251. $180-200 from Fringe Box Of­fice or at the door, in­clud­ing one drink.

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