The Chinese Music that works for western symphony
Written by Lucy Meng
To the young musicians from Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra(BYSO), Dr. Austin Huang’s “technically westernized Chinese music” are strange and familiar at the same time. The two music that they are practicing,“Joy and Prosper” and “Fresh flower”, sound nothing like the symphonies and overtures they normally play, but the two music are constructed as orchestra friendly. 14 year-old violinist Fergus Mo said, the unfamiliar Chinese melody sounds like an “organized chaos”.
In a long time, Chinese folk music is not internationally updated due to the difficulty inperforming them with western musical instruments. The enormous quantity of Chinese music is a buried treasure that’s yet to be familiarized by the western world. In an effort of introducing more traditionalChinese music, Dr. Austin Huang has spent thousands of hours on learning western composition. The systematic learning enables him to put together solid playable music to the modern orchestra. The most amazing part about Dr. Austin Huang’s music is that he converted the very indigenousChinese music into a form that can be operated on western musical instruments. Now the Chinese music is no longer a sole specialty for the traditional Chinese instrument like ErHu and Zheng. The mysteriousveil that has been hovering upon Chinese Music for recent hundred years is finally lifted.
“The music wasn’t any harder than other pieces we played,” said other young musicians upon agreement that Dr. Austin Huang’s music is not hard. “If we have to find any difficulty about playing them, then it’s when you slack off on practicing your own part and your sections get singled out, you can’t rely on people to cover you up.” And they enjoy the same sense of accomplishment as if they are playing any other music. 17-year-old cellist Audrey Chan assured that, “They only differentiate in terms of the melody and style, but not technically harder”.
“Dr. Austin Huang’s music allows me to embrace my Chinese Heritage more”. As musician from BYSO where the majority is Asian/Chinese American, many have recognized the music from their childhood memories. The déjà vu comes from their first generation immigrant parents or grandparents. Mo recalled that his grandparents always played Chinese Opera when he was young, and he traveled to china several times before and he found many similar melodies from Austin Huang’s music and the music he used to listened to.
Dr. Austin Huang came to BYSO rehearsal toexplainedthe behind-the-lyric stories of the two songs. The love story between A Hei and A Shi Ma interested the musicians when the old tradition contrasts itself with what the dating etiquettes are today in the United States. “It’s always fun to listen to stories.”
The musicians are very excited and looking forward to perform the two music pieces on November 3rd and the 17th. Hope this unique experience can be an eye opener to many as well.