We (members of the Toronto Chinese Orchestra) arrived in Hong Kong three days ago just as a major typhoon hit. We should’ve been able to get from the airport to the hotel within an hour, but it ended up taking about three and a half instead. During the night the typhoon reached Level 10, which is the highest level, and hasn’t occurred since 1999. Thus far our time in Hong Kong has been really rainy.
Before we came to Hong Kong we spent a week in Taipei where we did some music and instrument shopping (I bought an erhu), and saw a performance by The Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra at The National Concert Hall in Taipei. The performance was the most amazing performance I have ever been to. The concert hall is the most stunning concert hall I’ve ever seen, and the orchestra was truly awe inspiring. They played contemporary Chinese orchestral music, which is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. It’s nothing like classical Chinese music, and has no western equivalent (to my knowledge). It’s something that I want to try my hand at, most likely very soon.
Two days ago, the Toronto Chinese Orchestra held a concert titled ‘Boundless Songs of Love.’ This concert was immensely special to me because it featured the premier of my first orchestration for Chinese orchestra, ‘Guardians of the World.’
‘Guardians of the World’ was originally a piece for Western orchestra, and included pieces from ‘Fullmetal Alchemist,’ ‘Princess Mononoke,’ and ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’ I included an erhu soloist by the name of Amely Zhou in the original orchestration, and when I asked Patty Chan, who was a teacher of mine at the time (and who is also the concertmistress of the Toronto Chinese Orchestra) how to write for erhu, she invited me to re-orchestrate the piece for Chinese orchestra.
The pieces from ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ were dropped from the new orchestration, and additional pieces from ‘Princess Mononoke’ and ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ were included. With some help from Tony K.T. Leung, the composer-in-residence of the Toronto Chinese Orchestra, I was able to successfully transfer the orchestration over to Chinese orchestra. It involved learning about instruments that I knew next to nothing about, and how they fit into an orchestra that I had never orchestrated for. Overall, it was an immensely rewarding experience, and I learned a lot.
The concert was a huge success, and I want to thank everyone in the Toronto Chinese Orchestra for their dedication and hard work. We will now be taking ‘Guardians of the World’ to Hong Kong where it will have its premier there on July 26, 2012. This is something I never expected to be doing when I originally set out to orchestrate this piece months ago. I am both immensely surprised and honoured to have something that I worked on be performed halfway around the world.