By Natasha Anderson
On Thursday, November 9, at 7:30 p.m., Brevard Music Center (BMC) presents an evening treat for cinephiles and music aficionados alike with a performance by pipa virtuoso Min Xiao-Fen and master percussionist River Guerguerian at BMC’s Parker Concert Hall. The duo will perform original soundtracks composed by Min for two historical Chinese films. Both films will be shown during the performance.
“Recognizing the loss and neglect of these cinematic and musical treasures during the Cultural Revolution, I felt compelled to breathe new life into them,” says Min. “I aimed to share these historical and cultural gems with a wider audience, along with the rich tapestry of Chinese musical instruments.”
Min received a commission from the Smithsonian Institution to compose new original soundtracks for Romance of the Fruit Peddler and Romance of the Western Chamber. For Romance of the Fruit Peddler, she was inspired by the folk-art form of jingyun dagu, a style of storytelling in the Beijing dialect, as well as by American talking blues. Her primary instruments of choice were the sanxian and kanjira talking drum, which she used to create a rich, multi-layered soundscape that emulated the voices of various characters. For Romance of the Western Chamber, Min sought to blur the boundaries between folk, jazz, world music and improvisation using pipa, guqin, finger piano and hand pan to produce an exotic soundscape that effectively captured the emotional intensity of the film.
Min is joined by Guerguerian, a leading figure in classical, jazz and world music. Guerguerian plays across a vast span of musical genres and traditions, both obscure and mainstream, with Old World instruments originating from the Middle East, India and Africa.
“We both share a background in traditional music, but love crisscrossing cultural genres,” says Min. “Plus, River is a great human being. When the Smithsonian Institution commissioned me for the soundtracks, inviting him to join the project was a natural choice.”