From Hungary to Taiwan
The folk of Formosa record the folk traditions of Hungary & Taiwan in original commissions by Dana Wilson, Lei Liang, and Wei-Chieh Lin plus Bartók's Fourth Quartet.
Album title: "From Hungary to Taiwan"
Date of sessions: Oct 16-20, 2017
Venue: Nichols Hall, MIC, Evanston, Chicago
Engineer: Christopher Willis
Producer: Clancy Newman
What is this project?
We're making a CD! It will contain the following music:
Dana Wilson: Hungarian Folk Songs
Lei Liang: Song Recollections*
Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 4
Wei-Chieh Lin: Five Taiwanese Folk Songs
*This commission has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund
Why "From Hungary to Taiwan"?
Though we support the world's growing "flatness" in the sense of a level playing field in commerce, we believe in celebrating its "roundness" in cultural and geographical diversity. What are the heritages of the indigenous peoples of our countries? of the Americas? of Australia? of the Pacific Islands? of East Asia? of Central Europe? What parts of those heritages are relevant to us in 2018?
In this recording we begin to focus on two of these regions by bringing you music born of Hungarian and Taiwanese soil — much in the spirit of Béla Bartók, the ethnomusicological father of us all, and in tribute to our own namesake, the island of Formosa. What will such a recording sound like?
Dance music that drives your pulse dangerously high and higher; percussive sounds made from tapping pencils and aluminum foil; pop tunes that promise to stay alluringly in your ear as you wait out rush hour; a love song that turns into heavy raindrops; chest-beating rhythms repeated in frenzy; a lullaby with mosquito accompaniment; grandpa and grandma bickering over how to flavor the fish; harmonies that make you feel as if you've come back home, or ache for something long forgotten — such cultural essences will be uncovered, ingathered, prepared, and poured into the album for an earthy experience.
We present the two folk traditions in two parallels:
1) Taiwanese folk music in both a more raw "folk" form (Wei-Chieh Lin's Five Taiwanese Folk Songs) and a more stylized treatment (Lei Liang's Song Recollections)
2) Hungarian folk music in both a more raw "folk" form (Dana Wilson's Hungarian Folk Songs) and a more stylized treatment (Béla Bartók's Fourth String Quartet),
with the two linkable through the minor pentatonic scale, the commonality which initially led us to conceive of the parallel.
Containing three commissions dedicated to Formosa Quartet, the music is from start to finish a compelling journey from which each listener will no doubt identify personal highlights. One highlight may be the opening 3.5 minutes of the Liang, the "Bunun Prayer Song". Sung in an eight-part chorus by the Bunun tribe of Taiwan, the prayer song is a powerful invocation to the gods that an abundant harvest be granted. We offer this prayer as the sound of our most heartfelt hopes for humanity.
How are we funding our project? A truly global effort!
Producing a CD is expensive! We've already received a generous donation of $7,500 from Art of Élan (which commissioned Lei Liang's piece for us while we were their 2014-16 Ensemble-in-Residence), but the total costs of this project will run over $20,000.
On September 18, we launched our Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for our project and in only 12-days, we reached our $15,000 goal! These Kickstarter funds will help cover our numerous expenses, including traveling to Chicago for our recording session, producer and recording engineer fees, editing, hall rental, publicist, record label release fees, and new Formosa Quartet photos for our album cover.
We would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank the following sponsors who so generously contributed to our campaign:
Art of Élan
Agnes & Ben Castillo
Amy & Steve Sun Kuang Lin
Ginny & Bob Black
Chichi & John Guy
Dory & Larry Machtinger
Eric W. Lin
Gail & Jim Addiss
Jill & Richard Watson
John Chalik & Susan Chamberlain
Maria de Diego
Marilyn Haring & Kathy Chambery
Mary Ann Benson
Michael & Grace Chen
Nami & Si Pae
Patsy & Bill Chen
Cynthia & Walter Flor
Harriett & Wendell Harris