New composition by Bruce Qinglin Bai: Chai Na 拆哪

Instrumentation: zheng, percussion, 2 erhu, zhonghu, cello
World premiere: Nov. 16, 2014 hatch Concert

Land requisitions and forced evictions are unique phenomena in modern China. Expropriation of land for alleged public interests of course trumps individual property rights in our socialist state. The title of the piece is a play on words: it just so happens that the English word, “China”, is a homophone to the Chinese word 拆哪 “Chai Na”, meaning “demolishing” or “to be demolished”, written in red paint on every expropriated building. The entire neighbourhood in which I spent my childhood and adolescence is now a ghost town of rubbles, awaiting its future as a commercial resort.

The juxtaposition between glissando and staccato of the guzheng and slide and tremolo of the erhu constructs a scene of destruction and construction; that of a paradox which is simultaneously mechanical and emotional, social and personal, rational and completely irrational. Hopefully, a listener finds in this piece not only the defenseless anxiety, the vulnerability of restless abrasion onto an exposed nerve, but also the melancholy and even sentimentalism deep down under the ruins of loss and despair.

About Bruce Qinglin Bai 柏青林

Bruce Qinglin Lai

Bruce Qinglin Lai

Bruce Bai was born in Harbin, China. He moved to Canada in 2001, and currently lives in Vancouver. He has pursued various musical activities, including songwriting, TV scoring, sound design, recording, mixing, and studio techniques. For the past three years, he has been studying voice with Geordie Robert, and composition with Mark Armanini at Capilano University. His camp portfolio includes choral music and works for Chinese ensembles.

In 2012, Bruce produced his debut CD, Undefined, with Zhimin Yu (ruan), Rong Jun (erhu), Xiao Chenguang (suona), Charlie Liu (dizi), Chang Qing (sanxian), and Guilian Liu (pipa). In this album, he explored more possibilities to blend traditional Chinese music with Western music. In 2015, he hopes to attend Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts.