I’ve always had a soft spot for a string quartet, partially because I always wanted to play the cello but it seemed incredibly daunting. I also have a deep admiration for the quality and diversity of music four small wooden stringed instruments can produce.
Walking into the Space Theatre, I had a quick ponder on how I would somehow write a unique description of yet another string performance; what would stand out about the T’ang Quartet? Less than a few seconds into the opening composition, I knew I was in for a unique experience.
Having refined their musical competence in London and Moscow, the quartet came together following performing together with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Ng Yu-Ying (1st violin), Ang Chek Meng (2nd violin), Lionel Tan (Viola) and the charismatic host of the evening Leslie Tan (cello) dedicated their musical journey to exploring the “frontiers of chamber music”.
As a shining exemplar of what OzAsia is fundamentally aiming to do, T’ang Quartet: Secrets and Songs is an intricately and expertly amalgamated production of Western and Eastern musical styles. Even the musicians’ techniques are different from anything I have ever witnessed. It’s beautifully theatrical, and the lighting is a wonderful accompaniment to the mood established by the music.
Every piece was unique and stirred a variety of emotions. The winner of the evening was the Concert suite from “Feet Unbound”, composed by Kelly Tang for the documentary Feet Unbound, based on the untold story of the female soldiers of the Red March (Google/Wikipedia it, it’s a fascinating/heart-moving tale). It’s a stirring reminder of the unspoken but unbreakable bond between music and storytelling.
A remarkably unique and intensely emotional evening that invited the audience into the mysticism and emotion of the East, and the fortitude of the West … and how these two entities have come together.
Reviewed by Nathan Giaccio
Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 18 September
Duration: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Photo credit: Samuel Cheng