Kong Chong Yew
CURIOS : BEWITCHING WORLD OF THE CARNIVAL
Cabinet Of Curiosities is a programme of music-theatre works performed on pianos large and small, as well as toys and sound objects, some newly-invented specially for Margaret.
At its heart lies Curios, a multimedia work written by Chinese-American composer Phyllis Chen, that invites the audience into the bizarre and bewitching world of the carnival. Chen was inspired to create the piece for toy pianos, toy instruments and other oddities by a haunting, rather grotesque 1920s photograph Tan gave her of three Kassino clowns with a rather pathetic-looking dog. Whether it be carousels or a magic lantern, “Curios” beckons us into a novel, fantastical visual and sound world.
Curios and Cabinet of Curiosities were commissioned by, and first performed at the the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2015.
Other works performed in Cabinet of Curiosities are:
Hatta, the Mad Hatter’s tea party in the Alice In Wonderland-inspired piece from young English composer, James Joslin. Travel down the rabbit hole as Joslin’s miniature music drama unfolds on toy pianos, amplified chess and tea sets, an electric kettle and a mechanical clock, all presided over by the Cheshire Cat!
Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!, by Chinese composer Ge Gan-ru, is a Peking-opera inspired melodrama for my voice, self-accompanied by a 16-piece toy orchestra. Ge’s musical portrayal of lost love, sorrow and everlasting regret gives dramatic utterance to Lu You’s famed 1155 A.D. poem, making for a powerfully moving experience.
Approximately 1 hour 40 minutes including intermission
DICLAVIS ENORMA (2007) by David M. Gordon (b.1976)
For piano, 2 toy pianos, call bells and tape playback
NOTHING IS REAL (STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER) (1990) by Alvin Lucier (b. 1931)
For piano, teapot and miniature sound system**
*HATTA (2013) by James Joslin (b.1987)
For 2 toy pianos, chess set, tea set, electric kettle, clock, Cheshire cat
*WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! (2006) by Ge Gan-ru (b.1954)
A melodrama for voice, self-accompanied by a toy orchestra
*CURIOS (2015) by Phyllis Chen (b.1978)
For tape, video, master-of-ceremonies mask, wind-up toys and whirlarang
For cymbals, gongs, bowls, video and master-of-ceremonies mask
For toy piano, toy psaltery and lantern mask
iv. Kassino Interlude
For toy piano, sound objects and clown nose
For toy piano, video, music box and clown nose
For toy piano, mini-pipe organ, bird whistle and chime mask
*Written for Margaret Leng Tan
**Teapot by Ragnar Naess
How she coaxed beautiful music from a hand-wound music box roll and a miniature pipe organ was sheer magic.
After all these years she continues to keep her art fresh and push the boundaries while maintaining the very highest standards. This was an extraordinary performance of music and theatre by Singapore’s foremost performance artist.
~The Straits Times
Each of Chen’s six movements was executed with absolute precision, forcing the listener to sit up and stare in awe of what miniature symphonies can be conjured out of cheap objects and instruments.
~The Business Times
CURIOS (trailer) by Phyllis Chen
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! (full video) by Ge Gan-Ru