Exhibition of Art and Chinese Culture in San Jose

by on Monday, 27 October 2008 Comments

Last summer, Costa Rica was delighted to host a small sample of Chinese art during the first exhibition of Art and Chinese Culture organized by the Kung Tse Oriental Institute, a Chinese-Mandarin Language center in San Jose. This was the first time that such an event was organized in Costa-Rica, with various activities such as Dances of the Lion, kung-fu, Jasmine Song and Chinese tea ceremony. The purpose of this exhibition was to raise funds for an Integral Center of Health for children with cerebral paralysis, and it received a great response, especially from the curious and enthusiasts of the Chinese culture.

One of the main attractions of this event was to present collaborations between artists in various artistic fields, such as ceramics, painting, handwriting and music. As a musician, I was responsible for creating the sound environment of the exhibition. My focus was to present an authentic ancient blend of Chinese instruments and Electroacoustic music, and for that purpose I contacted several musicians. These collaborations are part of my project “Proyecto Sonorum” (http://www.proyectosonorum.org/), which is meant to break cultural barriers using technology art as the medium.

This was not the first time I worked with other musicians. While I was in Taiwan, I had already recorded music with Chinese instruments and performed in different venues. I can recall the great experience of recording in studio with the great pipa player Luo Chao-Yun (http://www.myspace.com/pipawoman) and the talented Janelle Chang (http://www.myspace.com/janelleyichen), a musician who plays a traditional Uygur instrument called the Satar. I had also performed live with Chinese instruments along with Chao-Ming Tung (http://chaomingtung.info/) and the music students from National Chiao Tung University’s Music Institute where I was studying computer music.

For this sound installation at Kung Tse Institute, I contacted other composers from Latin America. Otto Castro (http://www.ottocastro.com) from the Oscilador group (Electroacoustic Music Project of Costa Rica, http://www.oscilador.org/) contributed with his piece “Arquetipos Marinos”, a composition based on pentatonic scales that are very common in Chinese music. Two other musicians from Costa Rica were involved: Hazel Rodriguez (http://www.myspace.com/haditaprogresivamusic) and Roberto Mata, both involved in the local experimental music and progressive Rock scene. Hazel proposed a piece called “Under the rain”, in which she tried to recreate a Chinese landscape by using her synthetizer. Roberto Mata, who is a guitar player and a composer, offered a piece called “Hola”, which is a meditation of this word, the Spanish for “Hello”. Another artist involved in the installation was Fabian Torres (http://www.faoto.net/) from Colombia, a musician who tends to mix Latin-American and Asian music styles in his compositions. An example of this would be his mixture of Columbian Cumbia with Indonesian Gamelan instruments.

Aside from these Latin American musicians, two very special guests took part in the project: Chi-Hui Liang (http://www.chihuiliang.com) and pipa player Chao-Yung Luo. Liang, a film music composer, gave us a permission to play some of the tracks from her CD “Vita Eterna”, which is a very special mixture of Chinese instruments and Western rhythms.

The organizers of the Exhibition were delighted with the results of the sound installation, and visitors provided a lot of positive feedback. We achieved to create a sound environment transporting the visitors into contemporary and ancient China. As a result, we decided to work on new projects involving Proyecto Sonorum and the Kung Tse Institute, one example being a multimedia concert for June 2009. We will keep you informed about these.

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