Playing for home and heart

 Playing for home and heart
Kailin Yong will perform with his newest band, Qilin Group, and has written an original tune which he calls “a little flamenco done in a Peranakan setting”.

SINGAPORE - Violinist Kailin Yong left Singapore in the early 1990s and spent more than two decades playing in Europe and the United States, in places ranging from concert halls to the streets.

But the 1985 National Music Competition winner is back. And he has been slowly making his mark on the music scene here in the past year.

Tonight, the 41-year-old violinist will perform at the Esplanade Recital Studio. The performance will feature his newest band, Qilin Group, which comprises acclaimed jazz pianist Weixiang Tan, 34, bass player Felix Phang, 30, and drummer Pablo Calzado, 29.

A mixture of world, jazz and folk music, the setlist will showcase the wealth of cross-genre music experience Yong has amassed on his travels.

On the programme, too, is an original tune inspired by regional folk tune Dondang Sayang. Titled Dondang Sayang Alegria, it is described as "a little flamenco done in a Peranakan setting".

Says Yong: "It was inspired by local Peranakan culture. Although I'm not Peranakan myself, it's kind of like my tribute to my country."

He originally did the tune as a theme song for home-grown dance company Flamenco Sin Fronteras' adaptation of The House Of Bernarda Alba, staged at the School of the Arts Drama Theatre in March.

The version played by the Qilin Group is slightly different because of the jazz background of the musicians in the band.

"One of the most attractive qualities about working with this group of musicians for me is that imagination just runs rampant among us," says the violinist.

"Weixiang, Pablo and Felix are such creative players and the whole process is so interactive. Everybody's just doing what they do and there is a lot of trust and bouncing of ideas off each other."

Yong started his violin training at the age of six and first came into the spotlight when he won the National Music Competition at the age of 13.

The Raffles Institution alumnus was also part of the Asian Youth Orchestra, a cross-country group which brings together budding musicians from all over the continent and played shows throughout Europe and Asia.

"It was like a mobile global village," he says of his time with the orchestra. "It was a huge eye-opening experience for me. Not only did I get to travel, but I also met a lot of young musicians from different countries. My time with them was a wonderful testament of what music could do."

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