Robin and Insook invited us to the concert at Avery Fisher Hall, because Insook worked with the orchestra before. We got there early, and following Jim’s suggestion had dinner at the cafeteria, and the food is surprisingly ok and unsurprisingly expensive.
It’s actually the first live Chinese instrument concert I’ve been to. I never liked traditional Chinese orchestra, and I probably never will. It’s just too loud and too noisy and too monotonous.
There’re four pieces on the program. First a rearranged traditional piece, then a suite by Zhao Jiping. I don’t like either one. Zhao Jiping’s piece sounds like either soundtrack, or folk festival music. Same goes for the 2nd piece in the 2nd half by Peng xiuwen.
The 1st piece in 2nd half is by Tan Dun, and he went on to the stage to introduce the instruments and talked about the piece and his experiences with Chinese orchestra. His English should be better for someone who has been living in New York for many years. The piece is a very good one, though. It has moments like soundtrack and cliche, but the sound keeps being interesting and the overall composition is much better than the rest. Several musicians went down into the audience and played there, conversing with the orchestra on stage. At some point the musicians was making all kinds of voice, and the coughing and child crying in the audience blended in perfectly. The funniest sound is the whole orchestra flipping the scores rapidly, but later my mum told me that has been done before.
The orchestra played 4 encore pieces without much solicitation from the audience at all, which is pretty cheap. The first one is a very modern piece by a Hong Kong composer who contributed a lot to the orchestra. Second one is 草原英雄小姐妹. Third one is a western folk song. Fourth one is a traditional Chinese piece. All very noisy.
The concert didn’t change my perception about Chinese orchetra, but it’s nice to see Robin and Insook again.