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Transferring Voices: Can a Bassoon Sound Southeast Asian?

Plenary Speaker
26 August 2022
10:30 - 11:00 hrs (GMT+7)

Can one hear Singapore in the sound of a Bassoon? Singapore has for centuries been a unique multicultural place, where different cultures influence each other constantly, and where new cultures emerge through cross-marriages. Likewise, some composers and musicians in this area have two or more traditions in their background and are influenced by even more. Many non-western music practices, however, require different approaches to almost all parameters of music making. This poses unique challenges to foreign performers, and undoubtedly to foreign audiences as well.

As a classically trained bassoonist who moved to Singapore in 2008, I am engaged in a study of how various regional music traditions inspire local composers and musicians in their work, and what classically trained bassoon players can learn from these traditions and their different performance practices and philosophies. Two principal questions are: What skills are transferable from regional Singaporean music traditions to the bassoon? And how can one learn to play Singaporean regional contemporary art music well?

To answer these questions, I am exploring the traditional aesthetics, musical parameters, composition practices, and performance practices that contemporary composers in the region are drawing on, and am examining how these relate to newly created works for the bassoon. I am also developing models of practice-led research to determine how to best present this music to diverse audiences. My ultimate aim with this project is to foster greater understanding of a unique and vibrant intercultural space.


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