Orchestra concert conveys spirit of Hakka music

An orchestra concert featuring Hakka-themed music performed by Philharmonia Moments Musicaux (PMM, 樂興之時管絃樂團) was held at Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center on Dec. 15, part of the Taiwan Hakka Music Festival that is taking place across the country from Dec. 12, 2020 through Jan. 30, 2021.

Invited by the Hakka Affairs Council (HAC), PMM performed several music pieces that encompass Hakka elements, including Rondon on Hakka Folksong, Ping-Pan Tune by Hsu Sung-jen (徐頌仁), Hakka Capriccio for Cello Octet by Yen Ming-hsiu (顏名秀), Wu Ruei-rans (吳睿然) Variations on the Theme, 18 Caresses and Concertino for Clarinet Homeland Impression, 3rd Movement Reunion, and Dialect VIAssociation of Hakka Ballad by Lai Deh-ho (賴德和).

According to Paul Chiang (江靖波), the PMMs founder and conductor, the musical trend in Taiwans post-martial law era is similar to musical nationalism which appeared in parts of Europe from the late 19th century to early 20th century. Chiang drew a parallel between nationalist composers who focus on tracing their ethnic origins and attempt to restore the flavor of their homelands and these contemporary creators who use elements of Hakka folk songs to reinvent new tunes, concluding that both of them are essentially alike.

Chiang specially selected Béla Bartók’s “Romanian Dances for small orchestra” and Antonín Dvořáks Symphony No. 7 in D minor Op. 70, mov. 3/4 to be performed in the second half of the concert.

The conductor explained that Hungarian musician Bartók is an iconic nationalist composer, and Dvořák, a Czech composer, spent his whole life promoting grassroots culture of his native Bohemia, likening the pairs musical pieces to the vitality of Hakka music.