Tag Archives: The Roundhouse

Sound of Dragon

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.

A Taiwanese orchestra focusing on Taiwanese contemporary music
Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra – performing contemporary Taiwanese music

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.

The carving detail on the guzheng
The carving detail on the guzheng
The Instruments Petting Zoo
Percussion at The Instruments Petting Zoo

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!


The Talking Stick Festival

Yesterday, I worked for nine and a half hours without a break and on about five hours sleep. When I emerged from the light of the office into the darkness of the night, I felt motivated to do only one thing: collapse. However, I knew I had the opening at the Talking Stick Festival to attend. So, I mustered up enough energy to make my hair presentable and entered The Roundhouse.

I was greeted by ladies with trays of appetizers which included venison sausage on bread and buffalo sliders. As I munched happily away, I looked at the beautiful photography on the wall. The stress of the day started to melt away and by the time I entered the cabaret room and sat at my table I was ready to enjoy and learn from the performances I was about to witness.

I entered to win tickets to the Talking Stick Festival opening because I always enjoy the arts and like to support local talent. However, I also entered because I really wanted to become more knowledgeable about aboriginal culture. The evening’s performances of dance, music, and spoken word were beautiful, enlightening, and powerful. The positive energy in the room and the delight and pride in aboriginal achievement was palpable. The Honourable Steven L. Point and his wife were also in attendance. The lieutenant governor’s words were inspiring and moving as he explained he was there not so much as the Queen’s representative, but as a member of the aboriginal community.

This evening’s tickets were truly a wonderful prize. I won a lot more than tickets to dinner and a show. I won the opportunity to watch and interact with amazing people with incredible talents. As I left and received a cedar paddle on a cord chain, I knew I would always remember what a great evening this had been.