Concert Preview | Singapore Chamber Music Festival 2024: Yang Shuxiang ‘Everything is Chamber Music’
This year’s Singapore Chamber Music Festival (SCMF) includes, for the first time, the Chamber Music Academy (CMA), which provides expert coaching and performance opportunities for selected amateur chamber groups of all ages and abilities. In this 2nd of a 3-part series on SCMF, Aileen Tang chats with one of the coaches for CMA, Singaporean violinist Yang Shuxiang.
The Flying Inkpot: You’ve performed a whole range of genres, from solo to orchestra. What draws you to chamber music?
Yang Shuxiang: Over the years, I’ve come to realise that EVERYTHING is chamber music. Sonatas – chamber music with piano; concerti – chamber music with orchestra (the opposition and interaction between soloist and orchestra makes the music); symphonies – giant string quartet with extra bells and whistles; solo Bach – yes, you’re playing an entire string quartet score by and with yourself!
Chamber music makes a good musician. ‘Nuff said.
TFI: In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of playing chamber music?
Yang: If I may be blunt and mundane – intonation! That sucks up half of rehearsal time, having to navigate (as a group) between Pythagorean, Just, and Equal temperaments all the time. But, alas, this drudgery is unavoidable, for the conscious manipulation of harmony and conflict between pitches points to the very soul of music!
TFI: There are arguably fewer opportunities for young musicians here to play in chamber ensembles, as compared to solo recitals and youth orchestras. What is the valuable aspect of chamber music that makes it an essential part of a musician’s development?
Yang: If I may refer back to an earlier answer – music is about interaction and opposition between pitches, lines, and players. Even in solo works, one must always make sense of the music as multiple entities, each with a certain logic and autonomy, coming together (or not). Chamber music embodies this wisdom.
TFI: You’ll be coaching some of the ensembles as part of the Chamber Music Academy. What do you anticipate might be some of the areas that will need a little more attention?
Yang: Developing a sense of “rub” between players, especially in the domains of timbre and intonation. In other words, a heightened sense of interaction and opposition between the sounds each player produces.
TFI: What do you hope to be the biggest takeaway that the ensembles you coach will take away from the sessions?
Yang: To LOVE chamber music!
Shuxiang also performs in Festival Concert III: Friends, New and Old on Wed 31 January, 7.30pm at YST Concert Hall.
Tickets for Festival Concert III: Friends, New and Old can be purchased at https://scmf.bigtix.io/events/SCMF2403
More information about the Singapore Chamber Music Festival can be found at https://www.sgchamberfest.org/