The Pro-Musica Society of Hong Kong 香港雅樂社合唱團

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Home Performance 演出 Article Archive 文字檔案 A Showcase of Vocal Music by Richard Tsang 曾葉發聲樂作品音樂會

A Showcase of Vocal Music by Richard Tsang 曾葉發聲樂作品音樂會

Published in the house programme of "A Showcase of Vocal Music by Richard Tsang" on 13 December 2002
2002年12月13日 刊載於「曾葉發聲樂作品音樂會」場刊內
I have always been fond of vocal music. There is a saying which goes like this: "A real musician sings. Those who can't sing, play." Human expression cannot be more direct and intimate than through one's own songs. That's why in any civilization, vocal music always plays a strong role in its culture.

My composing 'career' also begins with vocal music, not from art songs or operatic arias, though, but from the very strong local flavours of Cantonese operas and Cantonese pop songs which, as a child, I was accustomed to listening over the radio. My interest in music did expand in later years, covering wider and wider tastes and styles. But vocal music has always occupied a very important part of my artistic being.

I am grateful for the Pro-Musica Society for presenting this very special concert for me, at a significant time of my life. I can take this opportunity to look back on my creative career and perhaps take a preliminary stock of what I have created so far in terms of vocal works.

I am not presenting all of my vocal music in this concert, as practicality is always a factor. However, this programme can be said to be representative of my vocal output, which could be roughly classified into three main categories.

Firstly, I like setting poems to music. These include traditional or contemporary poems in Chinese or in English. "Song of Yang Kwan" (1974) is among one of the first of such attempts. It is a simple three-stanza setting of the famous Tang Dynasty poem depicting the sorrow of parting from one's beloved through war and duty. In setting for traditional Chinese poems, I usually want to retain a sense of 'tradition', to show a respect for the stylistic and aesthetic values of the past, as if trying to mimic what the poem would have sounded like if it were set to music during its time. This same technique applies to "Ru Meng Ling", a setting of another famous poem from the "Sung" Dynasty. Both songs carry a strong modal flavour, with a sense of ritual and restrained expressiveness. On the contrary, setting modern and non-Chinese poetry gives me much greater freedom in choosing the exact musical means as I feel like. These diversity in language and style could be observed in "And When I Die", "October", "Arise My Love, My Fair One", "Love Under the Rain", "Mang", "Ke-Chung", etc.

The second group of my vocal works is more educational in nature, or to put it in another way, they are mostly written for children's choir in mind. This can be reflected in the treatment in its musical language and the relative simplicity of means and form. These works range from the simple "Lullaby" from an extended children's musical using popular musical elements, to more artistic expressions like "The Song of Four Seasons", in fact another setting of a modern Chinese poem.

The third category of my vocal output is artistically more adventurous, representing my continuous search and experimentation as a composer in writing for choir and vocalists. Take the a cappella "Lux Aeterna" for example. I did not mean to write a setting on the Latin text praising the eternal light of divinity. Rather, the music which I have written has a poignant suggestion of a strong urge to aspire for light, truth and love. This work carries many hidden innovations, such as the freedom to allow individual choir members to utter their own sounds at some passages. However, most of my other works in this category are very difficult and hence not quite suitable for this programme. "Lux Aeterna" is among the 'easier' pieces in this respect.

Chronologically, this programme covers nearly the whole of my composing career so far, including the very first "art song" which I wrote: "Love Under the Rain". In fact, this song of 1973 earned me the First Prize in the Art Song Competition organized by the Magazine "The Grove" and placed me in contact with some of the most active composers at the time, among whom, Doming Lam, Wong Wing-hee & the late Prof. Lin Sheng Shih.

I also treasure the very special song I wrote for my wedding 25 years ago. As a dedication to my wife Kitty, "Arise My Love, My Fair One" is an adaptation of the "Psalms of Psalms" from the Old Testament, depicting the joy of love as welcoming as the arrival of spring. I was composing this piece in springtime of 1977 while studying in northern England. The elated feeling of springtime after the long cold winter was augmented by my excitement of marrying my wife in the coming summer.

The latest work in the programme is "All for Love", originally a simple tune written for the Hong Kong Treble Voice Society. Here I have expanded it to include chorus and strings. It might be that my music is generally quite melancholic. I hope that this expanded version of "All for Love" may shed some hope and light to this otherwise, quite sentimental programme.

1st November 2002
Hong Kong

我的作曲「生涯」亦始於聲樂,這裏所指的並非藝術歌曲或歌劇中的詠嘆調,而是我孩提時代經常在電台上收聽到的帶有濃厚本地色彩的粵劇和粵語流行曲。縱使其 後我的音樂興趣漸廣,涉獵的音樂風格和趣味也更為多樣,但聲樂在我的藝術生命裏所佔的重要地位始終不變。



其一,我喜歡以詩入樂,當中有不少古今中外的詩作。《陽關三疊》(1974)便是這一類嘗試中的早期作品。我把這首以著名唐詩為題的歌曲分為三個段落,刻 劃出因戰亂從軍而與親友傷別之情。我為中文詩歌譜曲時,一般都盡量保留「古風」,力圖模擬詩作在當時入樂的面貌,以此向當時的藝術風格和審美觀致意。我為 另一首著名的宋詞《如夢令》譜曲時亦採用了類似的技巧。上述兩首樂曲都有強烈的調式風格,並帶有禮儀色彩和風流蘊藉之感。相對而言,我為當代和外文詩歌譜 曲時,挑選音樂表達方式的自由度較大,同類作品如《當我死時》、《十月》、《我的良人站起來》、《雨戀》、《茫》和《客中》都運用了靈活多變的音樂語言和 風格。

從本質上來說,第二類聲樂作品更具教育意義;換句話說,它們都是為童聲合唱而作,相對簡單音樂語言和表達形式反映了這種創作意圖。這類作品包括淺白的《安 眠曲》(選自一齣融入了流行音樂元素的兒童音樂劇),以及以中國現代詩為題的藝術歌曲《四季歌》。

第三類聲樂作品的藝術風格更為大膽創新,體現了我作為作曲家在合唱和聲樂創作歷程中不斷的探索和嘗試。以《永恒之光》這首清唱曲為例,我創作時並非如拉丁 文本般單單歌頌神的永恒光芒,其實它更深刻地體現了追求光明、真理和愛的強烈願望。這首作品隱合了許多創新的意念,例如在某些樂段中讓個別合唱團成員自由 發揮等。但是,我其他同類的作品大多較為艱澀,因此不太適合在今次音樂會中演出。《永恒之光》已是同類樂曲中較為「通俗易懂」的作品之一。

從時序來看,這次演出的曲目貫穿了我的作曲生涯,當中包括我創作的第一首「藝術歌曲」 -《雨戀》。事實上,這首1973年的作品為我在《文林》雜誌的藝術歌曲比賽中贏得了第一名,更因此而結識了當時最為活躍的一群作曲家,如林樂培、黃永熙 和已故的林聲翕教授等。

我亦份外珍視25年前我特意為自己的婚禮創作的歌曲 -《我的良人請起來》,這是我獻給妻子Kitty的作品,改編自《舊約》中的「雅歌」,描畫的是愛之喜悅使人有如沐春風的感覺。它是1977年春我在英格 蘭北部遊學時的作品。當時我為即將於夏天舉行的婚禮雀躍不已,所以在漫長的嚴冬後春回大地之際倍感歡欣鼓舞。

音樂會最後演出的是《全賴愛》。這首簡單的樂曲原是為香港童聲合唱協會所寫,我為這次演出加入了合唱和弦樂的元素。也許我的音樂作品以傷感者居多,所以我 更希望這首加長版的《全賴愛》能為這場較為感傷的音樂會帶來一線光明與希望。


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