Saturday, May 01, 2010

Silk Road with Yo-yo Ma

Up till the 14th Century, the Silk Road, a series of land and sea trade routes that connected Eurasia, had been the gateway between the China and the Mediterranean for nearly 2000 years, enabling not just a lucrative exchange of trade but also opening up an enthralling exchange of the oriental and Mediterranean cultures. Intrigued by the interconnectedness of arts, music and culture between the occidental and oriental world, famed virtuoso cellist Yo-yo Ma, , founded the Silk Road Project in 1998 to explore connections from ancient times to the present via the musical route. Then, out came many successful albums that feature the fascinating scores and rhythms inspired by the scintillating fusion of the east and west,  and the Silk Road Project has established itself as a musical favorite among many music connoisseurs. For years, I listened religiously to all their collections and then on Friday night 30 April, I experienced the musical convergence of the magical Silk Road right at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

The Silk Road Ensemble

Presenting the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-yo Ma. As a cellist myself (despite a really really lousy one), Yo-yo Ma (along with the already deceased Jacqueline du Pre) has been my cello hero for over a decade, and his Silk Road Ensemble didn't fail to impress. The Silk Road Suite that opened the show was my ultimate favorite that featured the very talented Sheng (China Orchestra Instrument) Player Wu Tong (first row, extreme right on the picture above) who has successfully breathed a new lease of life into this stale dowdy Chinese Instrument that once graced the Chinese imperial court. Wu's chemistry with the Ruan's player during their solo segment was electric and phenomenally mesmerizing. Secretly, I was hoping Yo-yo Ma would play a more prominent role with his cello but then the Silk Road Ensemble isn't just about celebrating Yo-yo Ma as one of the century's greatest cello maestro. It's got the "We're in the limelight as a team" togetherness about them.

However, I was hoping for a more upbeat and easily digestible pieces cos they picked Ritmos Anchinos and Night Music as part of the selection and these are disarraying pieces that showcase the musicians' technical skills but aren't as aurally palatable. I enjoyed it for the simple reason that I was busy watching Yo-yo Ma's finger works cos I play the cello but some of the audience seemed a bit bored as both pieces are best described as movie soundtracks to the thriller genre. Nonetheless, it was a great showcase with 2 encores where the audience were surprised by the Sheng Player, Wu Tong's multi-faceted talents as he not only plays the Chinese flute but also sings amazingly in the final encore "Happiness". I think he's aria trained too!! What amazing talents! So I guess I'm okay with his sometimes over zealous style as he jumped and dance around the stage as if it's his solo show while playing the Sheng LOL! I must say he seemed as if he was hogging the limelight and I wonder what the rest of his team mates feel about that. Hmmm.....

Anyway, I know there's no photography allowed but I managed to sneak a couple...well, bad quality but hey at least I tried...

Right now, I'm gonna go take my cello out, make sure the G-string is tight (not the underwear but the instrument string!), tune it then play it...I can't wait to see Yo-yo Ma again!! I hope next time it'll be his solo! Tonight, it's indeed money and time well spent!!! What a great way to start the weekend!

1 comment:

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