Sunday, January 23, 2011

Singapore Chinese Orchestra

Much like our concerts in the botanical gardens of Boise during the summer, Singapore has similar events in its own botanical garden.  Tonight we met our friends Stephan and Lubka for a picnic dinner and a wonderful one hour concert (free) in the Singapore botanical gardens.  The concert featured the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, and was part of the celebration ramp up for Chinese new years.
The band shell and outdoor amphitheatre couldn't be better.  The band shell is at the bottom of a gradually sloping hillside, on a pier structure with a koi pond surrounding it.  There are trees and shade along the edges of the hillside, and it provide a very pleasant environment for music and a picnic.
The orchestra was splendid, playing traditional Chinese new year music.  Although the instruments were mostly Asian (some research will be required to properly identify the instruments), the music bore a strong similarity to western culture classical music.  My ignorance of the history of the Asian music and the instruments is great--  I am wondering  if western stringed instruments have roots in the east, or if these developed independently?

UPDATE:  A quick check of Wikipedia informs me the primary instruments in the orchestra are erhu, a 2-stringed instrument played with a bow, from a family of bowed instruments called huquin.  These instruments evolved out of central Asia, and have roots over a thousand years old.  As my hypothesis proposed, the violin and other stringed instruments of western culture emerged out of Northern Italy in the 16th century, and are likely descendants of the huquin instruments, invented much earlier.

Singapore Botanical Gardens Bandshell--  The Singapore Chinese Orchestra performed a free 1 hour concert featuring traditional Chinese New Years music.

Jim, Elaine, Stephan, Lubka, and Estelle--  A nice picnic dinner, complete with champagne.  The weather was mild, with some of the monsoon breezes keeping things cool.  A delightful evening of music, food, drink, and great conversation with friends.   Estelle wasn't as entertained as the rest of us, but I am certain enjoyed an evening out with "the folks", and the broad attention from the crowd at the gardens.  The cat had a quiet evening home alone without Estelle.

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