When musicians hear the term ‘rhapsody’, the first thing that comes to their minds is a one-movement musical piece that is episodic yet integrated and free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasting moods to convey a variety of expressions revolving around enthusiasm and ecstasy.
Perhaps the idea of a ‘rhapsody’ can be somewhat defined by Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody — the ultimate display of musical prowess that is exemplified by a combination of sounds, energy, and enthusiasm that, despite the startling variety, still manages to sound gloriously unified.
You can expect nothing less from this year’s Chinese Orchestra concert, Vhapsody, in which our orchestra will take us on an expedition of nostalgia, surprise, admiration and pride through a wide range of musical genres and themes, with their own Victorian twist.
For those who are unfamiliar with traditional Chinese music, the Chinese Orchestra consists of four sections that are divided according to the way they are played — wind (吹管乐), plucked strings (弹拨乐), bowed strings (拉弦乐), and percussion (打击乐) — that come together to perform modernised traditional music named guoyue (国乐, “national music”). Contrary to popular belief, these traditional instruments are neither stiff nor boring. Their exceptional versatility will be displayed as the orchestra takes us through a “diverse repertoire [of songs], ranging from fast songs to emotional songs and even anime songs”, as endorsed by Neo Jia Hui from 18S37, a member of the orchestra.
To find out more about what Victorians can expect from Vhapsody, we interviewed the Chairperson of the Chinese Orchestra, Clarence from 18A14. Here are some of the highlights that you can look forward to in this year’s concert:
Collaboration with Victoria School and Cedar Girls’ Chinese Orchestra
Clarence was excited to reveal VJCO’s collaboration with VS and Cedar CO. The combined orchestra will be playing a variety of pieces that highlight the different strengths of the respective orchestras. Clarence gave an example of how VJCO will be playing the yin version (阴, or “night version”), while VSCO will be playing the yang version (陰, or “day version”) of the same piece, to bring about a cohesion between the two moods that will surely move the audience!
Worried about just sitting in the PT listening to music for hours on end? Feeling utterly clueless about the difference between the gaohu and zhonghu? Well, fret not, because VJCO will be taking a break from their performance to hold a mini interactive session with the audience to introduce them to the different instruments. Be prepared not only for a mesmerising musical experience but also to learn and gain a greater insight of the Chinese musical scene!
Throughout the concert, Clarence explained, VJCO will also “break some stereotypes” about the relevance of Chinese classical music by playing pop songs that are more familiar to us. Clarence’s favourite piece, “By The River”, which was inspired by the Singapore River, was only composed this year. Such relevant pieces are something to look forward to during the concert!
To conclude, Clarence hopes that the audience embraces Vhapsody with an open mind. “It’s common (for people to) attend the CO concert with the preconception that we will only be playing Chinese Listening Comprehension-esque music. While I cannot deny that it is the same genre, I hope that they can look beyond that, appreciate the scenario and environment the music is trying to build, and try to immerse themselves in each the piece — it may be more relatable than they think,” said Clarence with an excited grin on his face as he and his orchestra continued to practice hard for the concert.
All in all, this year’s Vhapsody is certainly a spectacle not to be missed! With the orchestra practising hard to develop their cohesiveness and musicality, there is no doubt that the various pieces will be performed flawlessly and even tug a few heartstrings. Through the creation of beautiful and harmonious music, the CO will definitely display the musical prowess that they have in store for us. Come for Vhapsody — we guarantee that you won’t regret it!
Date: 17 May 2019, Friday
Time: 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Venue: VJC Performance Theatre
18A15 Xin Yi