A Thriving Celebration of Music
On this day, members of the local saxophone-only ensemble La Sax walk down the street of Sham Shui Po with their saxophones in hand to shoot publicity photos for their concert.
Different from the typical concert attire with ties and suits, they dress up as butcher and the merchant wearing heavy accessories.
This is not just a gesture. It is an attitude.
As said by Natalie, a member of the ensemble, “The seeds of music are hidden deep in everyone’s heart. Our aim is to ignite their passion for music from within.”
By Venus Lam | Translated by Renee
The seeds of music are hidden deep in everyone's heart. Our aim is to ignite their passion for music from within.
Having known each other since school days, members of La Sax have committed to promote public interest in classical music, hoping to shatter the stereotype that classical music must be enjoyed in strict silence. This time, they have made a breakthrough and come up with a fresh new approach in leading the audience into the music world by adding different elements such as stories, magic, physical theatre; and inviting Harry Wong, who is so familiar to people in Hong Kong since childhood, to perform on stage with the ensemble.
Everything begins from the Saxo Carnival of the Animals in January 2018.
Jeffrey Chan, Executive Director of La Sax, recalled that, his initial thought was just to collaborate with his friends who are pianists, Yvonne Lai and Cherry Tsang. “When it comes to a performance for a symphony band and piano duet, I naturally think of The Carnival of the Animals.” Composed by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, each piece of The Carnival of the Animals embodies a zoological motif and connects the characters with music by amusingly portraying different animals through the use of the different instruments. “As we decided to perform the piece, we’d better to perform it expressively, rather than conventionally. We want to play animals and add in storyline, but don’t know how to act nor tell a story. We therefore invited Uncle Hung to participate in storytelling.”
Playing music with the theatre
That performance gave La Sax a significant boost in their confidence. At the end of last year, they staged three performances at Xiamen, Guangzhou and Zhuhai.
“We’ve reorganized the concept of the show for the performance tour this time. I am so glad we’ve invited Harry Wong to participate, who led us to conceive and develop the work together. Every musician has a role.” Jeffrey mentioned that the ensemble has participated in different workshops to learn physical and theatre skills for the performance this time. “We’ve realized that as a performer, we focus more on the body language and physical movement, rather than solely on playing the music scores just like before. We’ve learned to observe our performance from the audience’s perspective.” Laam Fong, one of the founding members, talked about the touring experience. Although the tour was quite successful, La Sax did not hold back to savor the success. The ensemble returned to Hong Kong and set to go the extra mile. In addition to a more comprehensive story, the music has been revised and it was no longer a repertoire of The Carnival of the Animals. “Our 10 saxophonists will perform on stage to present a more diverse selection of music, from the ensemble of ten parts, the first-time performance of jazz music, to a new adaptation of Turkey Rondo of W.A. Mozart which combines both classical and jazz styles.” Jeffrey explained that they presented music in different ways though; music has remained as the core of the work. Chiu Wong, another founding member, continued, “Without a single dialogue, the 70-minute musical performance tells stories with music, drama and physical movements. Nevertheless, the theatre elements we’ve added in are served to enhance the musical effect.”
I often watch rock music shows where there's lots of interaction between the audience and the band on stage. Why can't the classical jazz concert do the same thing?
The pursuit for breakthroughs and exploration for new possibilities are set to engage the audience. “I often watch rock music shows where there’s lots of interaction between the audience and the band on stage. Why can’t the classical jazz concert do the same thing?” Laam Fong hoped that every concert will bring out a message, just like the emphasis on “One” being presented through the relaxed and humorous story this time. The team members work together and complement each other. It is hoped that the audience will resonate with that and be inspired.
In addition to the six concerts held in various districts in Hong Kong, La Sax will go beyond the boundaries with music by organizing workshops for people from different sectors. As Natalie said, “Art is boundless. We will find breakthroughs every time, whether it is in individual or the ensemble.” Being an audience, as long as we shatter the stereotypes, we shall understand that classical music has more than one interpretation.