I love music! Growing up, I took piano, voice, and music theory and went to everything from the opera to rock concerts. Now, I find myself intrigued by world music and want to learn more and more about how various cultures express themselves through musical performance and song. This interest led me to enter a Georgia Straight contest to win a VIP admission to the Sound of Dragon music festival. This is the first year that the festival honouring Chinese, Taiwanese, and international music has been held.
Fortunately, I won! My pass gave me access to 20 concerts from May 9th to 11th. There were also free activities provided. I chose to attend several concerts on May 9th and 10th, as well as visit the “instruments petting zoo,”which allowed visitors to try traditional Chinese instruments and hear them demonstrated. I enjoyed all of the musical performances, but especially liked the one given by Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra.
It was wonderful to hear instruments that I had never seen before produce music I’d never heard. It was also really inspiring to see so many young musicians passionate about performing their country’s contemporary music. I often find that contemporary music is best when it paints a picture in the listener’s mind of a central image. And, for the most part, I felt the music Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra performed did just that. Pieces like “Slow Rain” and “Between Water and Clouds” allowed me to connect to the natural world in a very unique way.
The other performances I saw highlighted how effectively western instruments and international instruments can harmonize with Chinese or Asian instruments. For example, the Oliver and Yu Duo combined the classical guitar with the ruan, otherwise known as the Chinese moon guitar. When listening to the pair play a song like “A Dream of Africa,” the experience is truly imbued with international flavours.
The instruments petting zoo was also a great way to interact with all of the fascinating musical instruments. I especially liked the guzheng, which is like a Chinese zither and many of the percussion instruments.
So, if you have an opportunity to attend next year’s festival, I would highly recommend it. I strongly feel that it is important to step out of one’s comfort zone and be open to learning about how other cultures express themselves through the arts.
A note about the contest blog: The Sound of Dragon festival pass was worth $70. My total winnings this year add up to approximately $130. I hope to win many more exciting contests this year, but will be taking a hiatus for the month of June. Will see you all back in July!