Between the living and the dead, between exposure and privacy, between love and solitude, a woman sings. She wears her heart on her sleeve, but will not show you her face. She walks through a crowd but is totally alone. She is a ghost, but she is alive.
IN/BETWEEN is a series of loosely connected song cycles exploring love, loneliness and freedom. An international collaboration between artists from different parts of the world, this semi-staged production features Chinese and Afrikaans poetry set to original music by South African composers Franco Prinsloo and Pieter Bezuidenhout, and will be performed by harpist Judy Ho and soprano Jessica Ng. The art direction is by Malaysian illustrator Sokkuan Tye, and Singaporean designer Chloei Hew provides the costumes.
This multi-disciplinary project was partly inspired by a particular line in W.H. Auden’s poem “As I Walked Out One Evening”: ‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you/Till China and Africa meet/And the river jumps over the mountain/And the salmon sing in the street’.
The two ends of the world converge in the programme that draws on African and Chinese traditions and melds them in unconventional yet beautiful ways. Not only will the concert feature ravishing melodies traditionally scored for voice and piano, such as Bezuidenhout’s “As ek ‘n Prins Was” (“If I were a Prince”), but audiences will be able to enjoy other unique musical textures created by the harp, the viola, the human whistle and even the mbira (an African thumb piano). The shimmering bass lines of Bezuidenhout will enthrall listeners with their constant shifts from key to key, while Prinsloo’s mesmeric harmonies--- at once recitativo and aria ---call to mind a time that is either in a courtly past, or in the distant future. It is story-telling music, written to enchant.
The hour-long concert also introduces world premieres of several pieces. Bezuidenhout’s D’Apres Wang Wei is set to the words of an Afrikaans poem in homage to the 8th-century poet Wang Wei. Prinsloo’s The Song of Sunset on a River and Spring Sleep are two Chinese poems by Tang dynasty poet Bai Juyi, to be sung in Cantonese. This is particularly note-worthy, considering there are little to no art songs composed specifically for the Cantonese language.
IN/BETWEEN aims to explore the liminal spaces in art and life. The artists involved are neither insider nor outsider, claiming no allegiance to one country or the other, and embody both the joy and unease of unbelonging. The collaborators share the same openness, freedom from categorisation and spirit of experimentation. Sokkuan Tye, for example, is an illustrator venturing for the first time into stage design; Jessica Ng is singing in Afrikaans, the South African composers are gamely taking on Chinese flavours in their works, and Classical harpist Judy Ho is breaking from concert hall traditions.
Come enjoy an evening of good music made and performed with love.