NTU HIGHLIGHTS August 2017  

Duo Recital Delivers Echoes of Traditional Tea Harvest Chants

The organizers of the course "Music Design and Innovative Application" offered at the Stanley Wang D-School@NTU teamed up with the Dixon Foundation for Arts and Culture to put on the concert, "Sio-Po-Kua: Music from Taiwan's Lush Tea Gardens," on May 28.

Held at KHS Hall in Luzhou, the duo recital featured Taiwanese flutist Chia-Fen Tsai, a graduate of the Yale School of Music, and virtuoso Cuban classical guitarist Rene Izquierdo.

Unique to Taiwan, sio-po-kua are traditional mountain songs that were chanted among the tea farmers of Pinglin, a mountainous area in southeastern New Taipei City famous for its pouchong tea, while they picked tea leaves during the harvest season. Although the melodies of sio-po-kua are composed of simple three-note scales, they are still rich in expression.

The songs presented in Tsai and Izquierdo's performance were the work of composer Chun-Da Huang, who reinterpreted the traditional songs compiled by ethnomusicologist Chin-Cheng Lin in his book,Pinglin's Sio-Po-Kua. Huang's fresh reinterpretations merge a bygone soundscape of Taiwan with Western musical instruments, enabling a fading echo from the past to reach the ears of contemporary listeners.