Yesterday we went to see the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble play at the Portland Chinese Classical Garden and it was very entertaining. I’m a big fan of the Chinese Classical Garden. They have everything a person could want in one place. Fascinating architecture, bonsai, a huge pond with fish, a beautiful garden, and a great tea house in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections (pictured below.)
The Ensemble was very good. They play more “traditional” Chinese music, and also seem to be interested in all kinds of music. They introduced every song with a description of what was to come. The selections varied from a Chinese war epic penned in 202 B.C. to “Oh Suzanna”. I would liken the concert to about any traditional world music mix CD. It will most likely contain things you will enjoy and other things you might not, and different people will find that they like different things. In this case the balance was well over to the “good” side.
They were very earnest and enthusiastic and put on an excellent show. For the record, there are more shows and different bands at the Garden coming up. Check them out here.
(I remember at the Montgomery Station in San Francisco there used to be an old Chinese man who would play his erhu for change. An erhu could probably best be described as a kind of Chinese violin. I used to stop and listen to him every once in a while. He didn’t seem to follow any rhythm and actually sounded very much like a howling cat, but sad. To me, at best, it evoked Chinese calligraphy, with lots of purposeful bold strokes, hooks, and finesse. But it sounded awful. I always suspected that I lacked the cultural experience or vocabulary to appreciate what he was up to with that instrument. Either that or he was really bad. It’s funny but I used to be shy about listening to him and would always stand somewhere he couldn’t see me listening.)