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Award-winning pipa virtuoso Wu Man and aboriginal performers from Taiwan to showcase indigenous tunes (with photos)

     Newly awarded as Instrumentalist of the Year 2013 by Musical America, pipa virtuoso Wu Man will perform at the Hong Kong City Hall this Thursday (November 15) together with aboriginal musicians and singers from Taiwan. Featuring a Paiwan tribe children's choir and the Bunun tribe's "Pasibutbut", the concert presents a spiritual dialogue between the 2,000-year-old pipa and the indigenous tunes of Taiwan's aboriginal music.

     Pipa virtuoso Wu Man is one of the core members of the Silk Road Project, led by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. As a soloist, Wu has collaborated with many of the world's most distinguished orchestras and musicians over the past 20 years, including the New York Philharmonic, the Kronos Quartet, Emanuel Ax and Philip Glass. In addition to putting the pipa on the music world map, Wu has successfully developed a contemporary language for the ancient instrument. She has also played music for the films "The Last Emperor" and "The Wedding Banquet".

     Wu has reached out to explore many musical landscapes. She has taken indigenous folk groups from remote villages in rural China to Carnegie Hall in New York, has visited Central Asia in search of the pipa's origins and, most recently, has headed into the mountains of Taiwan for in-depth exchanges with aboriginal musicians.

     In the coming concert, Wu turns emotions into pipa improvisation, producing an enthralling dialogue with the soft, lyrical lalindan (nose flute) of Taiwan's Paiwan people and the clear voices of one of their children's choirs. The remarkable programme is brought to a soaring close with "Pasibutbut", a leading example of a unique form of traditional singing associated with the Bunun people. In this breathtaking song, complex harmonies reverberate, filling the air with the humming, flowing purity of nature and reverence for the divine.

     The lalindan is a 40- to 60-centimetre flute-like instrument played by blowing through the nose. Many aboriginal communities in Taiwan play the instrument at weddings and funerals. It is also used for courting and daily entertainment. Its timbre is darker and more full-bodied than that of a flute, and it produces melodious notes that are both stirring and stately.

     Sung in polyphonic harmony without lyrics, "Pasibutbut" (also known as "Prayer for the Abundant Millet Harvest") is performed by a circle of Bunun tribesmen. The song starts with the chief singer guiding the others to hum, their sounds gradually rising in pitch from low to amazingly high while overlapping the tones, which sound like eight heterophonic voices, intermingling and melding into a powerfully resonant and unified whole.

     Two fringe activities will be held to tie in with the concert. Details are as follows:

1. Talk
Date: November 14 (Wednesday)
Time: 7.30pm to 9pm
Venue: AC1, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Paiwan and Bunun musicians will join Wu Man to share their experience of performing together. The talk will cover the aboriginal lifestyle in Taiwan, the relationship between music and life, and the historical significance of their musical instruments and repertoire. Demonstrations and a question-and-answer session will provide further understanding of aboriginal music and culture. The talk will be presented in Putonghua. Admission is free, with limited seats available on a first-come, first-served basis.

2. Foyer performance
Date: November 14 (Wednesday)
Time: 6pm to 6.30pm
Venue: Hong Kong Cultural Centre Foyer
Aboriginal musicians from Taiwan's mountain region will introduce the pure, elemental sounds characteristic of their distinctive musical culture. Admission is free.

     The concert performed by Wu Man and Aboriginal Friends from Taiwan is one of the programmes of the New Vision Arts Festival organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. It will be staged on November 15 at 8pm at the Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall. A meet-the-artist session will be held after the performance. Tickets priced at $320, $240, $180 and $130 are now available at URBTIX.

     Half-price tickets are available for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and their minders, and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Other booking discounts of up to 20 per cent are available.

     Programme brochures are available at URBTIX outlets or at the website,

     For programme enquiries, call 2370 1044. For telephone credit card bookings, call 2111 5999. Internet bookings can be made at

Ends/Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:55


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