Minsheng WE Theatre: The “Rock N’ Roll”
Gwendoline Cho-ning Kam
Time: May 27, 14:00
Guest: Lin Feng
Location: Multi-functional Hall,5/F, Minsheng Art Museum
At the turn of the millennium, Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity marked the successful return of kunqu theatre after decades of neglect. Despite of its indispensable role within a kunqu performance, the significance of luogu (gongs and drum) has been minimized both on stage and in academic discourse.
Led by gu, drum, the “pace-keeper” of a kunqu performance, luogu is a percussion ensemble that creates a rhythmic-sonic space for performers to deliver stylized, non-representational gesture on stage. While the idea “West is superior” lingers still in the Chinese cultural context, practices and functions of luogu have been confused with its western counterpart, i.e.performing the role as simply an accompaniment rather than a negotiator among performers, musicians and audiences.
Co-organized by Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum and Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe, the seminar series on kunqu music and performance will commence with eminent bangu (clapper and drum) performer Lin Feng’s introduction on how traditional kunqu luogu structures a performance from the perspectives of forms, figures and atmosphere. Entitled “The ‘Rock N’ Roll” in Kunqu Music Performance”, this workshop intends to reiterate the aesthetic validity of traditional Chinese music in countering the dynamic of cultural globalization and to rebut the inclination to the west in presenting Chinese culture.
Specializing in bangu, literally “clapper and drum”, Feng Lin is a national-first class kunqu percussionist and the orchestra leader of Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe (SKOT). He received professional training from masters Wang Yupu, Zhang Xinhai, Zhu Lei, Li Xiaoping and Wang Genqi. Lin demonstrates his professional excellence in various large-scale productions and well-known kunqu excerpts performances. These works include The Peony Pavilion, The Palace of Eternal Life, The Fifteen Strings of Cash, The Lanke Mountain, The Poem of the Luo Stream, and The Yandang Mountain. Lin’s devotion and enthusiasm in kunqu music has won him wide acclaim at home and abroad. The unprecedented kunqumusic concert that he designed for SKOT has been well-received. Lin won the title of “Outstanding Kunqu Percussionist” at the 5th KunquOpera Art Festival in 2012 and critics regard him “a modest musician who shines without deliberately showing off his talent”
Gwendoline Cho-ning Kam is an ethnomusicologist, specializing in kunqu music. For three years since 2010, she has been the chief symposium organizer and copy editor of symposium anthology for Chinese Opera Festival held by Leisure and Cultural Services Department,Hong Kong SAR. She is also the chief translator of the Cantonese Opera Peony Pavilion for Cantonese Opera Development Foundation. Since 2014, Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe has invited her to be the English translator for various official publications and classical librettos. Kam was also the project curator of“Producing Voice: A Workshop of Indian Classical Singers with Chinese KunquArtists”, a collateral event of the 11th Shanghai Biennale in 2016 and “Saath -Saath: Music Across the Waters” in 2017 respectively. In spring 2018, Kam chairs the reading roundtable series Kunqu and Contemporary China organized by Liu Haisu Art Museum.
Established in 1978, Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe (SKOT) is a key protected national kunqu institution currently led by Ms. Gu Haohao. The troupe has constantly demonstrated its brilliance in various national theatrical competitions, for instance, the China Art Festival, the Shanghai Magnolia Drama Contest and the China KunquFestival.Accomplishment of Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe has further been recognized by the Ministry of Culture, which claims that SKOT is “a first-class theatrical institution with the first class of actors, repertoires, and performances.” Over the years, footprints of Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe have extended to the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Czech, Belgium, Greece, Hong Kong SAR, etc.The wide acclaims that SKOT has received at home and abroad encourage the troupe to further perpetuate the genre,and thus, Chinese traditional culture.