Presentations: Composition and Performance of Cantonese Contemporary Music
29 Apr 2023 Hui Yeung Shing Building, LG01
14:30 Prof. John Winzenburg (HKBU) [Keynote] - English
"Bridging 'Local' and 'International': Emerging Notational and Performance Practices in Cantonese Choral Music"
15:20 Dr. Austin Yip Ho-kwen (Composer and Interdisciplinary Artist) - Cantonese
"Utilising Conversation and Street Graffiti to Compose Cantonese Choral Music"
15:50 Break (10 minutes)
16:00 Dr. Daniel Lo Ting-cheung (Composer) - Cantonese
"Non-tonal Music for a Tonal Language"
16:30 Prof. Mak Su-yin (CUHK) & Prof. Chan Hing-yan (HKU) [Keynote] - Cantonese
"Beyond Speech-tone Mapping: Text-music Relations in Cantonese Contemporary Vocal Music"
17:20 Round-up Discussion
Bridging ‘Local’ and ‘International’: Emerging Notational and Performance Practices in Cantonese Choral Music [Keynote]
John Winzenburg (文盛伯), Professor, Academy of Music, Hong Kong Baptist University
The 2023 conference “From Constraints to Creativity” celebrates a recent yet overdue trend toward Cantonese-language choral and vocal works within Hong Kong art music. In the area of choral music, relatively few originally composed Cantonese works existed in Hong Kong until after 2010, despite the strong choral tradition that had developed in the city through the 20th century. As is implied by the main conference theme, various constraints limited the development of Cantonese practices into the first decade of the 21st century, in part due to the unique socio-linguistic-historical position of Hong Kong in comparison to other areas of the world. Over the past decade, however, Hong Kong has experienced a sudden upsurge in new Cantonese choral works that feature its unique blend of linguistic, musical, and cultural elements, especially when viewed in relation to other tonally spoken languages based on common, pictographic Chinese texts, such as Mandarin and Taiwanese.
Without long-established performance practices to inform the composition, publication, rehearsal preparation, and performance of Cantonese choral music, choral practitioners both within and outside of Hong Kong face an exciting set of challenges and opportunities as they embrace the new works: What rationale and processes exist for commissioning new works? How is a complex pictographic written language with up to nine tones and fluidly pronounced syllables best notated for local and international choirs? How much flexibility or uniformity is preferable as new performance practices take shape? What valuable experiences have been gained thus far in disseminating Cantonese works locally and internationally? And what specific challenges have Hong Kong choirs faced in learning and performing new forms of choral music in their own language?
In this keynote presentation, I address these crucial questions by reflecting on several projects that I have engaged in over the past ten years as conductor, curator, editor, university educator and scholar. These include the internationally commissioned Chinese choral collection and CD Half Moon Rising: Choral Music from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan (Edition Peters, 2015) and its Chinese edition Ripples Glisten Away 水光瀲灧（Central Conservatory of Music Press, Beijing); the Hong Kong Arts Festival multilingual, multimedia cantata “Hong Kong Odyssey” (2017); the HKBU-sponsored Colla Voce 2019喜粵! concert of newly commissioned Cantonese choral works; and the internationally recorded and distributed CD “Quotation of Queries: Choral Encounters of Hong Kong, China, and the Distant West” (PARMA Recordings/Navona Records, 2020). Using excerpts from related scores and audio-video recordings, I will offer my own perspective on how notational and performance practices are taking shape, as well as insight into bridging local and international choral pathways for the future.
Utilising Conversation and Street Graffiti to Compose Cantonese Choral Music
Austin Yip Ho-kwen(葉浩堃), Composer and Interdisciplinary Artist
Spoken and written forms of art have often been used as a source of inspiration for composers. Por Por (2019-2022), a chamber opera that is set mostly in Cantonese, will be used to showcase how daily life conversation and street graffiti have been transformed into Cantonese choral music. Examples will be drawn from a few movements of the opera, including "Let’s Take Away Two Dollars From Her", "I Did Not Lie", and "They Were Like Thieves". Tones and polyphonic characters will be discussed.
Non-tonal Music for a Tonal Language
Daniel Lo Ting-cheung(盧定彰), Composer
Tonal languages, such as Cantonese, use tones to differentiate words that might otherwise be identical in terms of phonemes. Research has demonstrated that particular scale degrees in a tonal context are more readily matched to selected Cantonese tones, implying a certain degree of tonality in written Cantonese texts. However, what happens when non-tonal music is composed for such texts? Composers are faced with the challenge of preserving the textual intelligibility of the lyrics while adhering to the tonal suggestions of the text. Drawing examples from the opera Women Like Us (2022) and the song cycle Songs of Virotopia (2022), this presentation will discuss the composer's musical attempt to answer these questions, demonstrating how the complex interplay between music and language inspired Cantonese composition with refreshing harmonic idioms.
Beyond Speech-tone Mapping: Text-music Relations in Cantonese Contemporary Vocal Music [Keynote]
[In Cantonese and English]
Chan Hing-yan (陳慶恩), James Chen and Yuen-Han Chan Professor in Music , The University of Hong Kong
Mak Su-yin(麥淑賢), Professor of Music Theory, The Chinese University of Hong Kong