1 Dec 2012

Songs of a Wayfarer - Adeline Wong's 'Longing'

The stage is dark and an alien hum fills the air, like that of a spaceship coming in for landing. A lady drags her seemingly leaden suitcase across the stage, and a monolithic image resembling some sort of great gate, appears on the backdrop screen. Slowly a row of music stands is revealed, like runway lights. Five musicians wander through the darkness, searching for their places. And when they are finally seated, we arrive at the beginnings of one of the most remarkable compositions of this year.  

This is Adeline Wong’s latest opus, 'Longing', a Malaysian premiere after it was incarnated as Lengt in Norway in 2010. This nearly fifty minute work for string quartet, solo cello, electronics, in collaboration with photographic art, film and dance, is what Wong referred to as a kind of “live film”. It is also one of Malaysia’s most large-scale, extended compositions to date next to Johan Othman’s opera Conference of the Birds from 2009.  

Performing the work in KLPAC this February was Singapore’s flamboyant T’ang Quartet with former MPO cellist Ornulf Lillebjerka, and the creative team from Norway who worked on the original collaboration. Heading the team is the heart of Longing, the Norwegian artist- photographer Are Andreassen who had chanced upon Wong’s music through Lillebjerka and found in her music a resonance with his own artistic impulses.  

“She and her music are real treasures of Malaysia! When I first heard her music, I understood that I wanted to collaborate with her. Her music is timeless and very visual. It is both modern and classic, and a nice point of tangency to my digital images,” said Andreassen. 

Malaysian premieres since 1995

Here is a roundup of premieres of Malaysian works at home and abroad. Since the mid-90s Malaysian works have been performed largely abroad...

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