Fusion and Transformation in Taiwan

On the morning of 15 August, an exciting conglomerate of composers, conductors and musicians gathered at the National Theatre and Concert Hall in Taipei to kick off the 35th “Asian Composers League Conference and Festival.”

The honorable guests at the opening meeting included Tsung-Huang Hsiao, the Political Deputy Minister of Culture; and Yu-Pei Liao, the Chief Secretary of Hakka Affairs Council, a government institution that fully supports the event. Taipei National University of the Arts, Taipei Chinese Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Mȕller Chamber Choir, Chai Found Music Workshop, and Taipei Chamber Singers also joined the meeting to announce the start of this much-anticipated event in Taiwan.

Other guests from local organizations and music groups included Hsien-hsun Chiu (vice president of TNUA), Hsiao-ping Chen (vice director of Taipei Chinese Orchestra), Hsin-yuan Shih (manager of Programming & Planning Department, NTCH), Wen-Chen Kuo (executive director of NSO), Cheng-Ming Huang (director of Chai Found), Su-chen Fang (director of TCS), Chia-He Wu (executive director of Mȕller Chamber Choir), Tsu-Yi Lai (manager of Ju Percussion Group), Han-Chih Tai (member of Ju Percussion Group), Yuan-yu Liao (conductor for the closing concert), and Po-Chien Liu (winner of 34th ACL Young Composers Competition). Tsung-Huang Hsiao, the Political Deputy Minister of Culture of R.O.C., was known for his achievements in the field of visual arts.

At the meeting he shared some of his observations about the intersection between art, music and social science. “The visual design of this edition reveals this 45-year-old association’s ambition in becoming a hub that links the music communities around Asia. Music knows no boundaries, and composers play an important role in connecting music from different regions and turning music into a medium that goes beyond borderlines. As we know, music plays a vital role in our life and our connection with it lasts from birth to death. We hear rhythmic beats of the mother’s heart as a fetus, and music is usually the best companion one can have when leaving this world.

Yu-Pei Liao, the Chief Secretary of Hakka Affairs Council, also stated that, “Music is an excellent carrier of culture which consolidates collective identity and continues the national heritage and legacy.” She also gave a brief introduction to the four Hakka pieces which were to be presented at the festival, including the choral “Weng Ahong” by Wen-Tzu Lu (artistic director of the 35th ACL Conference & Festival), which was based on the Meinong mountain song “Ban-shan Yiao”; the “Legend of The Three Mountain Kings,” an orchestral piece based on the Hakka belief of “Three Mountain Kings” composed by Prof. Fan-Ling Su; and two Chinese orchestral pieces based on Hakka folk songs created by Po-Chien Liu, the 2016 ACL Young Composers Competition winner and the Hong Kong composer Ming-Chi Chen. The Opening Ceremony will present Mȕller Chamber Choir singing the works of Yu-Hsien Teng, a highly venerated early Hakka composer.

The Hakka Affairs Council hopes to bring international audience closer to Hakka music and culture with these beautifully crafted works.

The honorary president of ACLTW Hwang-Long Pan began by expressing his appreciation to the music groups and government departments for their continued support to the ACL through the years. He pointed out that Asia was known for its diversified cultures and traditions. Sometimes different sides of a mountain could mean different countries, each with a distinct music scene. Despite the geographical immensity, ACL has successfully forged a new music community which runs the gamut from Northeast and Southeast Asia to West and Central Asia, including Israel and Turkey, even the Oceania.

With the advantage of multiculturalism, composers should not satisfy themselves with simply adapting the traditional music, boasting, “This is my work.” Rather, they should “transform” from where they are. It is through this way that each composer shows their individuality. The concept is important to the participating composers and this is why the 35th ACL Conference & Festival is themed with “Fusion and Transformation.”

Pan also noted several contemporary young Taiwanese composers who had been recognized with several prestigious awards. Some of the awards they have obtained since 2012 include the first prize of International Society for Contemporary Music, first prize of ACL, and the Best Performance Award of the ACL Conference & Festival. Their works even become a subject for academic research because of the rich cultural implications in their music. By combining the efforts of all participating composers, musicians, audience and media, ACLTW hopes to introduce more people to the fascinating world of contemporary music and feel its beauty.

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