Project 1: Xpressions 2013-10-27

Nurturing new music for Chinese instruments+

Date: Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, 4 PM
Venue: Array Space, 155 Walnut Ave. Toronto

Harp soloist: Andrew Chan
Dim Sum Ensemble

  • Yangqin: Di Zhang
  • Zheng: Michelle Kang
  • Percussion: William Tran
  • Piano: Elaine Choi
  • Erhu: Linlin Wang, Amely Zhou
  • Zhonghu: Patty Chan
  • Cello: Jaimie Chan


  • Dim Sum 點心 for harp, zheng, percussion, 2 erhu, zhonghu, cello by *Tony K.T. Leung conducted by composer
  • Spirit 靈 for zheng, percussion, 2 erhu, zhonghu, cello by **Lan-chee Lam conducted by Elaine Choi
  • Drunkard’s Rhapsody 酒鬼醉逍遙 for yangqin, percussion, 2 erhu, zhonghu, cello by *Alice Ping Yee Ho conducted by Elaine Choi
  • Double Happiness Trio 雙喜臨門 for piano and 2 erhus by Chan Ka Nin
  • Ripples 波紋 for yangqin, percussion, 2 erhu, zhonghu, cello by *Matthew Van Driel conducted by composer
  • Digital Hub Lite 袖珍數碼之源 (***Chamber rendition) by **Alfred Wong conducted by Tony K.T. Leung

**Hong Kong
***Chamber rendition arranged by Tony K.T. Leung

Digital Hub Lite 袖珍數碼之源

The Sham Shui Po district in Kowloon is popularly known as the ‘digital hub in Hong Kong’ with its concentrated source of computer products and electronic accessories. The instrumental colours and rhythms depict the hyperactivity of the digital age. Originally scored for a large Chinese orchestra, the composer has graciously allowed Dim Sum Ensemble to arrange a chamber version, hence the addition of the word “Lite” in the title.

Dim Sum 點心

The inaugural concert by Dim Sum Ensemble is a culmination of a lifetime’s preparation by its co-founders and influential people. Dim Sum was written especially for harpist Andrew Chan to open the concert. The sound of the harp melts any hardness in the heart, and that makes many dreams possible.

Double Happiness Trio 雙喜臨門

The Chinese saying “Double Happiness arriving at the door” is almost self-explanatory. It means there are two jubilating events to be celebrated. The two kinds of happiness the composer is describing are inner and outer joyfulness. The paired erhus represent double contentment, while the cosmic sound of the piano envelopes the exuberance.

Drunkard’s Rhapsody 酒鬼醉逍遙

This composition is a reinvention of the ancient guqin tune “The Drunkard”, originally a popular ancient melody written around 220 AD during the Three Kingdoms Period by the famous and wise scholar Ruan Ji. Inspired by the context of poking fun at dark politics and troubled states, this composition depicts the various stages of drunkenness. The wild antics and unsteady steps are reflected by the juxtaposition of duple and triple dance rhythm. Contrasting melodic themes and colouristic use of Chinese instruments with percussion suggest dark humour, revealing the drunkard’s overexcitement but troubled mind.

Ripples 波紋

Ripples begins quietly and meditatively, drawing the listener in to the deliberate movements of each instrument. As the piece develops, the instruments begin to move more, and create ripples of sound that interact with and complement one another. A quick, joyous section in the middle is like a burst of sunlight amongst the calmness of the surrounding sections, and fades away just as quickly as it had begun. In the second half of the piece the consistent movement in the lower register of the yangqin reminds one of rain steadily falling onto a surface of water, creating ripples. The piece ends quietly, just as it had begun, and fades into silence.

Spirit 靈

Spirit is a sextet for mixed ensemble commissioned by Dim Sum Ensemble. I would like to thank Tony who gives me a precious chance to work with the newly established ensemble. The word “spirit” has multiple meanings in Chinese culture. It means soul and courage, which leads me towards a positive mind and direction.

The opening zheng theme keeps recurring in various sections, later developing into the cello motive to build up the contrapuntal tutti section in the climax. The mood of the music keeps the traditional zheng technique and the percussion resembles the Chinese festival celebration.

Andrew Chan, harp

Applauded by the National Post as having “a rare charisma”, his audience have included the Canadian Senate on Parliament Hill, and Princess Thi-Nga of Vietnam. A frequent soloist, Andrew has performed across Canada, as well as in the US and Asia. Enthusiastic to premiere new works for harp, those include recent performances of Illuminatum for Two Harps and Men’s Chorus by Constantine Caravassilis, Fantasy for Flute and Harp with Orchestra by Mizi Tan, and Concerto for Harp by Michael Conway Baker (Ontario premiere).

Andrew is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Harps on the Hill Festival, where he advocates the appreciation of the harp in its performance and education. Andrew is also a founding member of the CCC Music Festival Canada and the CCC Toronto International Piano Competition. As an orchestral harpist, Andrew has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Ontario Philharmonic, and Toronto Concert Orchestra & Chorus. Andrew continues to be demanded by orchestras across Ontario with whom he has performed extensively with and been featured as their soloists. A dedicated teacher, he founded Harp Sinfonia, a multiple harp ensemble featuring ten of his prize-winning students. His students come from around Canada and visiting students have come from Australia, USA, England, France, Japan, and Singapore.

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