New Tunes for the New Year

Celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Ox and exploring the ties between China and Scotland, the Institute’s music curator Kimho Ip, together with Filip Davidse, combined the sounds of the traditional Chinese yangqin* and saxophone to create inter-cultural dialogues that reflect the subtle nuances between the cultures. The two new pieces, Winter Is It Past and Delivering Grain, by the Filipkimho Duo were commissioned by the Institute for the Chinese New Year 2021. 

Winter It Is Past by Robert Burns
“Signore ascolta” from Turandot composed by Giacomo Puccini
Arranged by Kimho Ip

The Italian composer Puccini was inspired by Chinese tunes in his opera, Turandot. The duo has been inspired by their numerous performances in Scotland, including working with Scottish folk musicians. Winter It is Past is a piece that evokes fond memories of their time here in Scotland.

Delivering Grain 
Composed by Gu Wuxiang
Arranged by Kimho Ip

The piece was originally written for the erhu* during the 1970s Cultural Revolution. The lively atmosphere of the music reflects China’s agricultural society and the determination to achieve modernisation. The arrangement and the video attempt to recontextualize the piece in the 21st century, documenting the two musicians and their cycling journeys in Amsterdam delivering music to audiences in Europe.

*The yangqin 扬琴 is considered a traditional Chinese stringed instrument – despite being played percussively using tipped bamboo beaters. Like other Hammered Dulcimers before it, the yangqin is thought to have originated in the Middle-East before being introduced into Africa, Europe and finding its way to China toward the latter end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644CE). The original name used a different “yang” 洋  which was commonly associated with things foreign in origin or nature.

The erhu 二胡 is a two-stringed instrument played with a bow. Made popular as an accompanying instrument in traditional Chinese opera there are several slight variations in size and pitch. The erhu is thought to have first appeared in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907CE).

Kimho Ip and Filip Davidse