Communications & Media

Contemporary "re-composition" of Chinese folk melodies


A fantastic new concert, Five Songs from the East, will "re-composition" five Chinese folk melodies.

The concert is a collaboration between UTAS Conservatorium staff members Dr Maria Grenfell (composer, lecturer in Composition) and Shan Deng (pianist, lecturer in Classical Piano).

The songs are set for pipa (Chinese lute) and piano, written by Dr Grenfell for pipa master Deng Wei whose performance will be accompanied by Shan Deng (the two are father and daughter).

Although the combination of Chinese instrument with piano is not new, the idea of "re-composing" traditional Chinese folk tunes into new works by an Australian composer is relatively unique.

The folk melodies were obtained by Shan Deng from the Chinese Music Research Institute in Beijing, as part of a project funded by a research grant from UTAS to explore the potential connections from synthesising Eastern folk music with new Australian composition and pairing a traditional Chinese instrument with a Western one.

The titles of the folk melodies used were difficult to translate effectively into English, but appear roughly as movements one, two and five: Shoo-shoo bird, A type of tree, Lao Yo West Song, with movements three and four given their titles by the composer based on their character and relationship between pipa and piano.

The five songs aim to evoke tone colours shared by the two instruments, as well as engage the pair in a dialogue at varying times wistful, conversational, animated and colourful.

Dr Grenfell has also recently written a short piece called Rock Hopping for the Hush Music Foundation, an organisation that produces music to reduce stress and anxiety for children, families and others in hospital. The CD is being recorded by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and is entitled Hush Volume 12 – The Wind in the Willows. Dr Grenfell is one of nine Australian composers who have written pieces for the CD, which will be on sale by the end of 2013.

Who: All are welcome to attend this concert.

What: Five songs from the East concert.

When: Friday 28 September 2012, 1:10pm.

Where: Conservatorium Recital Hall, 5 Sandy Bay Road, Hobart.

Image: Shan Deng.

Published on: 07 Sep 2012 2:37pm