The Current Trends of Contemporary Music(當代音樂新趨勢)

Review from IRC 2010

First of all, I would like to thanks CASH, Miss Angelina Law, RTHK Radio 4, Miss Amy Kwong, Raymond Chung, Hong Kong Composers Guild and Professor Joshua Chan for all your supports and generosity in my trip to Lisbon, Portugal.

The 57th session of the International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) was held at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal, from May 31 – June 4.  As a flagship programme of the International Music Council, the IRC edition was for the first time co-organised by the Portuguese Radio (RTP, Antena 2) this year.

The 2010 Rostrum gathered representatives of 33 national radio networks from four continents, which presented 67 works composed within the last five years. Finnish Radio Executive Producer, Heikki Valsta, chaired the sessions. After the listening sessions, the assembly of delegates selected and recommended the most important works in two categories: general and "young composers". The Danish composer, Simon Steen-Andersen, with his “Ouvertures” from "Concerto for Amplified Zheng  and Orchestra" (2008)  won the prize in the “general” category while the prize in the "young composers" category went to the young Latvian composer, Kristaps Petersons, with her work “Twilight Chants” (2010) written for two choral groups, double bass and glassware.  These prize-winning works together with other brilliant works will be presented in concerts and will be broadcasted later by various radio stations.

Over the four-day listening sessions, diversity of works was amply demonstrated through distinct styles and genres.  67 of excellent and thought-provoking works were programmed. I 'm nicely surprised by the high standard of works they presented and later found out from some delegates that they had held national composition competition especially in preparation for the IRC.   There were some delegates who were so enthusiastic and ambitious in providing the best represented works that they even had an extra recording section for the selected composers.  Sadly, we seem to lack a system or programme like this in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Composers Guild may want to consider it in the next year or future selection.  This is in fact a wonderful opportunity to promote potential composers and their works.  Outstanding works would be played by some high standard performing groups or may even be broadcasted in other countries. That would be a good chance for talented composers to get their works recognised.  Estonian composer, Helena Tulve is a great example of it.  Our composers in Hong Kong, are indeed very unique in a foreigner’s eyes.  We live in a very special city and we get to learn the best of the two cultures.   We, represent the lively and engagingly flexible spirit of our home-base Hong Kong. We, have such an ultra-fast brain and creative mind. What we earnestly need from you and the organizations are your support, concern and commitment to the development of the young emerging composers in Hong Kong.  

Anyway, returning back to the 67 outstanding works, it’s hard for me to single out individual works, but I would rather framed this report deliberately as a personal viewpoint, here are (in no specific order) some of the pieces that I found particularly memorable. 

  • The two winning works by Simon Steen-Andersen’s Ouvertures and Kristaps Petersons’s Twilight Chants were both on my voting list.  In fact, I 've heard Simon’s piece at the ISCM Festival in Gothenburg last year in 2009, and I can still remember the piece so clearly that it seems like just happened yesterday. The musical ideas and structure are provocative. Special timbres tuned from Gu Zheng and orchestra together with the special processing of output sample gave this fascinating piece a very unique and memorable quality. This opens up a rich micro-world of new sounds.  The amplified micro-sounds are contrasted with acoustic music played together and give out another kind of musical shape and structure.
  • Young Latvian composer, Kristaps Petersons with her work Twilight Chants evoking resonance from a set of bottles partially filled with water displayed a sense of a fictitious ritual of a fictitious religion.  Though it was the composer’s first choral work, it was quite a successful one.  The independent vocal lines created a variant of tension and colour in the music. The sound of shattered glass was an absolute delight to the audience. It opened our eyes to a special ritual in Eastern Europe.
  • Austrian composer, Bernhard Gander’s Lovely Monster written for orchestra, related to the monsters from horror films.  It was not terrifying at all, but rather a quite humorous and dramatic one with special timbres such as high forced tones of horns, glissando noises, hard (pressure)-bowed (close to the bridge) string sounds, etc.  Audience could recognize the characteristics of the motif and identical polyrhythmic passages vividly.
  • Listening to the Taiwanese composer Chia-hui Chen’s electronic piece, Échappée written in Paris was just like watching a live drama about water. The sound of water as a major theme in the music was so real that it seemed that the water was dancing or acting in front of us.
  • Australian composer, Erik Griswold, Old Macdonald’s Yellow Submarine (2009) for prepared piano, toy piano, wood blocks and miniature music boxes, ranged from nostalgic and wistful to playful and cheeky.  The composer dedicated this piece to Margaret Leong Tan and he had pushed the limits of toy instrumental virtuosity by coordinating with a bicycle bell, bicycle horn, train whistle, and toy piano in Bicycle Lee Hocker, a right brain-left brain extravaganza.
  • Russian composer, Olga Bochihina’s chamber work Unter der Kuppel hervor (Under the Dome) written in 2009 upon the Festival “Young Euro Classic” commission.  The composer’s voice was so unique and specific as if those are being born in specific acoustics: flowing, transforming and resounding into audiences mind and ears. 

Of course, there were many others that I enjoyed, and couldn’t list here.   I hope that will not discourage other excellent composers or the countries that they represented. 

From the voting results, it is obvious that most delegates preferred aesthetic quality of the music to avant-garde styles of music. In here, I would like to quote what professor Chou Wen Chung said in the conference at the University of California, San Diego in 2001 regarding to “the future of new music”, “the “Confluence of cultures” is not the “borrowing” or the cultural “influence” of other cultures, but is rather a “merger” or “re-merger” of legacy. He said that these legacies were the roots of culture and must be nurtured from generation to generation and that by “merging,” we are “coming together, sharing each other heritage, complementing and revitalizing legacies.”  Currently, it seems that there are many composers and young composers doing what professor Chou were suggesting. I would like to take this opportunity to urge young composers to explore subjects deeply, not just to imitate the outward aspects of other cultures superficially but to make a meaningful cultural confluence out of the cultural influence, to preserve different musical aesthetics and continue to search for a way to the coexistence of different cultures. 

Last but not least, I must say that the most valuable part of the IRC is to develop genuine friendships with delegates from other countries, in turn, leading to meaningful collaborations.  I believe it is important that these events continue be organized in such a way as to foster the social networks and to allow more people to have chances to listen to music from all over  the world.  




第五十七屆由聯合國科教文協會主辦的國際現代音樂交流會於二o一o年五月三十一日至六月四日於葡萄牙里斯本的卡洛斯特•古爾本金安基金会舉行。  一共三十三位不同國家代表出席以及六十七首作品獲播放發表。  最後,丹麥作曲家西蒙·斯提恩-安德爾森為古爭及管弦樂而寫, 標題“開啟”, 獲頒成年組第一名。而拉脫維亞作曲家克里塔-彼得森為合唱團、低音大提琴及玻璃器皿而寫, 標題”暮光之歌”, 獲頒青年組第一名。這兩首得獎作品均獲三十三個不同國家廣播電台廣泛播放。

在這為期 四天的會議中,聽了67個優秀作品, 他們形式多樣及充分顯示不同的作曲風格和流派。 這些高水平的作品及錄音讓我覺得十分驚訝,後來與其他國家代表言談間發現有些國家專為此交流會舉辦作曲比賽,藉以發掘更多有潛質的作曲家及提高本國的作曲水平。還有些雄心勃勃的國家代表們為要發表最棒最高水平的作品及錄音,更會為作曲家安排錄音演奏。但是,我們香港似乎缺乏一個類似或系統性的甄選程序,希望香港作曲家聯會日後可以以這些國家為借鑒, 可以在不久將來定出一個新的選舉制度或方案。我們應好好把握這個推廣作曲家及宣傳香港的好機會。因為勝出作品不但可以獲得三十多個不同國家廣播電台廣泛播放外, 同時也有可能讓其他高水準的表演團體認識, 從而增加知名度及締造更多演出機會的可能性。相信愛沙尼亞作曲家,海倫娜.佟(Helena Tulve)是一個很好的例子了。其實我們香港作曲,在外國人的眼睛是非常傑出和獨特的。我們生活在一個非常特殊的城市,學習最好的兩國文化。香港就是活潑、投入、靈活的見證。雖然我們有超高速腦筋和創意思維,但是我們作曲家熱切需要您和您組織的支持,去關心、致力發掘及培育新興、能幹、有潛力的作曲家。


  • 這兩首獲獎作品, 成年組第一名丹麥作曲家西蒙·斯提恩-安德爾森為古爭及管弦樂而寫, 標題“開啟”,及青年組第一名拉脫維亞作曲家克里塔-彼得森為合唱團、低音大提琴及玻璃器皿而寫, 標題”暮光之歌” 都在我的投票名單內。事實上,我已經在去年哥德堡ISCM音樂節上聽過西蒙的作品,“開啟”,現今仍然記憶猶新。因為他的音樂思維和結構極具創意,特別在古箏和樂隊的音色調整上, 再加上裝置錄音的特殊處理,讓聲音更獨特和更有效果。 這不但開啟了一個豐富微觀世界的新音色,同時那裝置錄音與一般樂器的音色構成強烈對比,帶領著聽覺上的另一種音樂形態和結構。
  • 拉脫維亞作曲家克里塔-彼得森為合唱團、低音大提琴及玻璃器皿而寫, 標題”暮光之歌”, 那些吹奏玻璃瓶的聲音喚起一個虛構的宗教禮儀。這不但是作曲家的第一首合唱作品,同樣是一首相當成功及高水平的合唱作品。那些獨立的聲音線條以及打碎玻璃的聲音營造了不同的音樂張力、色彩變化及帶給觀眾無限的喜悅及新鮮感。它打開了我們的眼睛,好像要帶我們到一個特殊的東歐宗教儀式。
  • 奧地利作曲家,伯恩哈德甘德為管弦樂團而冩的”可愛怪物”,靈感來自恐怖電影。音樂不但不可怕,而且相當幽默和富戲劇性。特殊音色:如法國號的高迫音調、滑奏噪音、壓弦聲音等, 觀眾可以辨認出各主題和交叉節奏樂段帶來的不同情景和特色。
  • 聽了台灣作曲家陳家輝在法國巴黎寫的電子音樂作品”脫離”, 作品活靈活現。作曲家以水聲作為主題, 水聲如舞般活現眼前。
  • 澳大利亞作曲家,埃里克格里斯沃爾德,老麥克唐納的黃色潛水艇(2009年)為預備鋼琴、玩具鋼琴、木魚和小型音樂盒而寫,音樂介於懷舊和頑皮之間。這首作品是作曲家專為新加坡藉玩具鋼琴家,陳靈而寫的,作曲家把玩具鋼琴的演奏手法推至極制,通過協調與自行車車鈴、自行車喇叭、火車汽笛,在要顧及自行車聲音演奏之餘又要挑戰玩具鋼琴技巧,這真正是一首高難度,合成右、左腦大匯演的作品。
  • 俄羅斯作曲家,奧爾加.納塔利婭的室樂作品, “在圓頂下”寫於 2009年 為“歐洲古典年青” 音樂節委約作品。作曲家的獨特活現於她對聲學的流動、轉化,把觀眾的頭腦和耳朵都擦亮了。


從投票結果,很明顯,大多數代表傾向於有美感、有民族性、色彩性的音樂風格,多於前衛的音樂風格。在這裡,我想引述周文中教授於2001年在美國加州大學聖地亞哥分校以“未來的新音樂”為題的發布會上的一段演講。他說:「“文化的合流”不是以“借”或是要去 “影響”其他文化為目的。而是以一種“合併”或“重新合併”的手法, 把這些文化遺產-文化的根源,一代又一代的加以培育。學懂“合併”以後, 各國的文化遺產及文化精瀡就得以彼此分享、互相補充以達到振興文化遺產的作用。」 目前,似乎有很多作曲家和年輕作曲家都在周文中教授的建議下進行不同的“合併文化”工程。但我想藉此機會呼籲年輕作曲家能夠深入探討此課題,不只是進行外在模仿,我們更得要探討一個更內在、更有意義的文化交匯,從而得出更重要文化的影響。


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