Chinese tunes mixed with Japanese anime music, electronica

CHINA - Chinese instrumental music and Japanese anime music may seem like unlikely companions, but that is what the audience at The Teng Ensemble's concert on Sept 28 will get to experience.

The Chinese instrumental collective are hoping to re-write whatever stereotypes people have of Chinese music with their performance, in which they will perform classical tunes with backing tracks influenced by Japanese anime music as well as electronica.

Dr Samuel Wong, 30, artistic director of the Teng Company, who plays the pipa, says: "We try to create a diversity of genres to experiment with, with the intent of making the audience more interested in understanding Chinese instrumental music."

First established in 2005 with the aim of promoting Chinese music through educational activities and outreach efforts, the directors of the Teng Company subsequently formed the Teng Ensemble in 2009, a performing arm which first performed at the National Museum's Night Festival. The ensemble have performed at more than 100 events over the past four years, including the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

The Teng Company will mark their eighth anniversary with a concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Sept 28, called Ba - Eight. The ensemble will play eight pieces from their debut album penned by guitarist and composer-in-residence Benjamin Lim Yi, 29, which showcases eight distinct styles reflective of the group's diverse range of influences.

Pieces range from Guang Shan Yue, an ancient piece of Chinese music, to the titular piece, Eight, which features electronic dance music with influences of lounge music.

The number eight is also a reference to the size of the group, which has grown from five to eight members after a few returned from their overseas studies.

They hold full-time day jobs as music educators in schools and tertiary institutions.

Some of them, such as sheng player Yang Ji Wei, 32, who obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Music from the Central Conservatory of Music, China in Beijing in 2009, have brought their experiences abroad home with them.

"We travelled to places such as the countryside while we were there, so we have heard folk music right where it came from.

"It was very raw and original, not processed at all, so these things gave us a very broad sense of what Chinese music is, compared to the polished sounds that you usually get from local Chinese orchestras," says Yang.

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