MFO interviews "Bridging Frontiers" erhu soloist Ling Hock Siang

Ling Hock Siang is the Associate Erhu Principal of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and recipient of the national-level Singapore Youth Award and Young Artist Award. He is also the first Singaporean to attain a Master’s Degree in erhu performance. Ling is widely recognised as one of Singapore’s most representative and accomplished Chinese classical music performers and educators.

Hock Siang will be performing in Bridging Frontiers, a concert that reflects the MFO's vision to enrich lives through orchestral performances that connect, inspire and entertain. Bridging Frontiers will bring together lovers of both Chinese and Western classical music in a celebration of orchestral music in a uniquely Singapore context, combining the artistry of some of Singapore’s most recognisable and respected classical musicians. Please click here for more information.

MFO: Hock Siang, what were your first thoughts when you were first approached by the MFO to perform as a soloist with the orchestra in a concert? Is this the first time that you will be performing with a Western-style symphony orchestra?

Ling Hock Siang (LHS): Yes, this is the first time that I will be performing a Chinese work with a Western-style symphony orchestra. When Jia Hua (General Manager of the MFO) first sounded me on a possible collaboration with the MFO, I was of course very excited and eager to take on the challenge of being a part of such a cross-cultural musical project.


MFO: The MFO has specially commissioned composer Eric Watson to rearrange Liu Xi Jin's Double Erhu Concerto "Hymn of Wusuli" for performance by 2 erhu soloists accompanied by the MFO. Having previously performed the original work as a soloist with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, how different do you expect the experience of performing it with the MFO to be? Will you have to change anything in the way you approach the performance?

LHS: Liu Xi Jin's Double Erhu Concerto "Hymn of Wusuli" was originally written for performance by a Chinese orchestra. Conceived as such, the piece is based around melodic and aesthetic characteristics that are unique to Chinese traditional music. A Western-style symphony orchestra obviously produces a sound palette that is very different from that of a Chinese orchestra, and with Eric Watson’s re-orchestration of the work for performance by the MFO, I’m sure that it will be a very different experience, one which I am very much looking forward to!

刘锡津的双二胡协奏曲《乌苏里吟》原创作是为华乐团而作的。作曲家的创作构思必然是以华乐团中的华族乐器的器乐法,按照中国音乐的旋法特点及审美思维进行创作。西洋交响乐团的乐队总体音响色彩和华乐团的截然不同。这一次的音乐会由作曲家Eric Watson 进行从新配器,这将会是一次不一样的音乐体验,让我们拭目以待!

MFO: Tell us more about what kind of piece this is - besides being an erhu showpiece, what does it portray musically, and what can audiences expect to hear? What does the piece mean to you personally as a performer?

LHS: Besides what I have just mentioned about the difference in sound palette, it will be very interesting for erhu lovers to hear how such a traditional Chinese music instrument is able to both contend and integrate with the sound of a symphony orchestra. Furthermore, in the erhu repertoire, double erhu concertos are exceedingly rare. For all these reasons, this performance promises to be a memorable and unique musical experience.


MFO: The title of the concert is Bridging Frontiers, and the "Hymn of Wusuli" will be an important part of of the MFO's attempt to bring together lovers of both Western and Chinese classical music in a common celebration of orchestral music. What would you say to a potential audience member to convince them to come experience this unique concert?

LHS: Singapore is a multi-racial and multi-cultural country, and in this concert, the audience can expect to be immersed in a familiar yet unique experience of cultural connection and exchange. In the culinary arts it’s like using chopsticks to eat pasta, or using a fork and spoon to eat rice; in language it’s like a Chinese person speaking English or a Westerner speaking Mandarin; each audience member will experience the concert in a different way, and that’s really an experiment that will be absolutely fascinating!


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