A meeting of traditional Chinese and European music. On one side there are two fundamental instruments for Chinese culture the pipa and guzheng, while on the other there are two versions of Adolph Sax’s invention the soprano and alto saxophones (trumpet as well). The musical mediator between these two distant worlds will be the piano.
The pipa is a string instrument often called a Chinese lute because of its pear-shaped soundbox. As a musical instrument the pipa has been played in China for over 2000 years (it has relatives in South-East Asia e.g. Japanese biwa, Vietnamese đàn tỳ and Korean bipa). The guzheng is a Chinese string instrument resembling a Zither. The Japanese koto is a descendant. The guzheng has 18-21 silk strings and a giant wooden soundbox. The instrument is quite big and is supported by four legs. It is usually played by the fingers of both hands wearing special hooks. Bridges can be moved while performing to modify the length of individual strings.
“Global village” has organised meetings between musicians and cultural circles from far distant countries. Musical ties between China and Europe have their own history already. Elements of traditional Chinese music fascinated European composers, to mention Gustav Mahler, while contemporary Chinese music draws inspiration from widely understood European classicism (e.g. Chan Wing Wa).
Convergent Points is a meeting of Chinese and Western traditions fitting the history of European-Chinese culture exchange. The originator of this event is Szczecin saxophonist Dariusz Samól (professor of the saxophone class at the Art Academy in Szczecin). On his many artistic travels to China in 2014-2015 while touring with the ensembles The ArtSax Duo and Inventia Trio, he began cooperating with Chinese musicians playing traditional instruments. As a result the project Convergent Points was set up. It may be interpreted as common points, but in distant geographical locations.
The concert repertoire consists of Chinese pieces performed on traditional instruments: Moonlight of Spring River, Lyrical Fantasia, Mo Li Fen Fang, The Ambush, Yi Dance, The Butterfly Lovers. Compositions set in western tradition will surely contrast e.g. Jephthah for two saxophones and piano by Carla A. Wirtha. However, the point and mode of this meeting will be pieces written specially for the ensemble, consisting of guzheng, pipa, two saxophones, a trumpet and piano i.e. Chen II by Zhong Juncheng and Bitter Gourd of White Jade composed by He He. The composers of these pieces are expected to be present at the concert.
Musical contacts between Europe and China undoubtedly have a future, especially when we consider the latest research which says that there are 8 million people playing the violin in China, and the piano about 40 million.
Mikołaj Rykowski PhD
Musicologist and clarinetist, doctorate, and associate at the Department Music Theory at the Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań. Author of a book and numerous articles devoted to the phenomenon of Harmoniemusik the 18th-century practice of brass bands. Co-author of the scripts "Speaking concerts" and author of the spoken introductions to philharmonic concerts in Szczecin, Poznań, Bydgoszcz and Łódź.