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2018 Fest Press Release

3rd Sound of Dragon Music Festival
Features Innovative Collaborations between Local/National Artists and Guests from Taiwan and China
April 5-8, 2018 at the Annex & Roundhouse

“Vancouver’s biennial celebration of Asian sounds returns with a program that spans everything from new Chinese chamber music to a genre-smashing showcase of intercultural improvisation”. – Georgia Straight

The 3rd instalment of the bi-annual Sound of Dragon Music Festival will feature some of the most creative music crafted through the collaboration of Vancouver’s Chinese music community, local music scene innovators, and special guests from Taiwan and China. The Festival celebrates diverse music with Chinese roots or influences in four evening concerts at the Annex Theatre and the Roundhouse, as well as free workshops at SFU Harbour Centre and the Roundhouse.

The first-class large chamber ensembles in Canada and Taiwan come together in the collaboration between the Turning Point Ensemble (Vancouver) & Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Taiwan). They will perform two concerts of completely different programs of inter-cultural works by Canadian and Taiwanese composers at 8pm on April 5 & 6 at the Annex. Chinese traditional instruments meet western classical instruments in various combinations under the baton of conductors Owen Underhill and Chih-Sheng Chen (Taiwan).

Canadian compositions: Alexina Louie’s A Curious Passerby at Fu’s Funeral explores extreme ranges of heightened activity and requires virtuosity from all musicians. Some of the inspiration includes the Japanese sho/mouth organ techniques and aesthetics and rigorous Asian drumming. Owen Underhill’s Cello Concerto plays with notions of memory and the assemblage and juxtaposition of musical objects of multiple characters and styles. Vancouver’s much missed ex-VSO-cello-principal Ariel Barnes returns from Europe to perform this work. Lan Tung’s Ma Cao opens with a short figure she heard from a klezmer piece, features dramatic Beijing Opera style singing, and ends with an exciting polyrhythm. Dorothy Chang’s Small & Curious Places is a collection of five independent movements exploring various sound spaces. John Oliver’s Eagle Flies to Mountain explores the four elements (earth, air, fire, water) and their implementation in concepts of the zodiac, specifically the personalities of cusp signs. Rita Ueda’s Hummingbird Lovers sees these tiny birds as a symbol of love, beauty, and joy.

The ensembles will give the world premiere of three rising stars of Taiwanese female composers whose music will be heard in Vancouver for the first time. Both Chia-Lin Pan and Chih-Chen Wei’s works are inspired by the ever-changing shapes of the clouds. Chihchun Chi-sun Lee’s Phragmites Under the Sun honours her late mentor Prof. Yen Lu and utilizes materials from his musical languages and orchestration techniques for a grand piece of 21 instruments. The Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra has performed Ching-wen Chao’s Slow Rain in Vancouver in 2014 and met with critical acclaim. This year their collaboration with the Turning Point Ensemble will give the North American premiere of her Dark Light, featuring violist Tawnya Popoff. 

Perhaps the most popular Chinese instrument is the 21-string zheng. Its harp-like sound is among the most graceful and characteristic of Chinese music. 21 Strings Plus (Vancouver) with special guest Xian Wen Hu (China) will bring you a program for solo and trio zheng from Canadian, German, Chinese and Korean composers at 8pm on April 7 at the Roundhouse.

Sound of Dragon Ensemble (Vancouver) & Toronto Chinese Orchestra Chamber Players (Toronto) are two ensembles rooted in Chinese tradition. This is the first time two professional Chinese ensembles from across Canada come together to perform. The all-star line ups of these two ensembles represent some of the best players of contemporary Chinese music in Canada. Also trained solidly in traditional music, they are featuring soloist Hoi Seng Ieong to interpret a new work inspired by Cantonese music from the 1930s. This closing concert for the festival is at 7:30pm on April 8 at the Annex.

This year’s festival includes two innovative free workshops:
6:30-8:30pm on April 3 at SFU Harbour Centre, Taiwanese artist Li Tung and zheng soloist Hsin-Fang Hsu offer participants hands-on opportunity to try brush painting and playing the zheng at Mountain High River Flow – Chinese landscape painting and music workshop.

5-7pm on April 7 at the Roundhouse, bring your own instruments of any kind to play with members of Taiwan’s Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra and surprise guests in Vancouver’s first official “Chinese and Celtic Music Jam”

The Sound of Dragon Music Festival debuted in 2014 and is held in Vancouver every two years. It is Vancouver’s first festival devoted to “Chinese music”, showcasing very diverse musical styles: ancient folk and classical repertoire, contemporary compositions, jazz, world, fusion, and avant-garde improvisation in solo, chamber, and orchestral performances. While presenting authentic traditional music, the festival promotes creativity and innovation in imaginative new ensembles and projects, utilizing unusual cross-cultural instrumentations. By presenting musicians, ensembles and composers from different ethnicities, nationalities, and musical genres, Sound of Dragon re-defines “Chinese music” and reflects Vancouver’s growing multicultural environment, representing a highly creative music scene.

Tickets available at
Regular: $25 for one concert, $39.99 for two concerts;
Students/Seniors: $15 for one concert, $25 for two concerts

The two-concert combos have to be either the first two nights (April 5 & 6) or the last two nights (April 7 & 8).
Media Contact: Gwen Kallio