Wong Hae and Kwok Wai-Sze | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Wong Hae and Kwok Wai-Sze 

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These two prominent young virtuosos are affiliated with the Hong Kong Arts Ensemble, which promotes traditional Chinese chamber music. Wong plays the erhu, a two-stringed instrument with a snakeskin-covered sound box, and its larger and taller relative, the gaohu. (The pitch relationship between the two is similar to that between the violin and viola.) A former prodigy, Wong learned erhu techniques from his father, a celebrated player, and at the Central Conservatory in Beijing. Now based in Hong Kong, he's known as an innovator whose rich repertoire spans centuries and includes an impressive number of modern works. Kwok, who was born in Hong Kong, moved to the mainland to study the zheng, a plucked zither with movable bridges, with experts in various regional styles. Her playing is distinguished by a clear articulation of subtle stylistic nuances. For their recitals at the Art Institute, in conjunction with an exhibition of artifacts from Taipei's Palace Museum, Wong and Kwok have come up with a sampler meant to demonstrate the delicate palette of Chinese instrumental music. The Sunday program, 15 solo and duet pieces, shows off the tradition's astonishing diversity, from a somber southern tune evoking an aristocratic lady's homesickness to a folk song celebrating the simple joys of a shepherd's life. One highlight is sure to be "Battling the Typhoon," which requires novel zheng techniques to depict a terrifying storm and its aftermath. Selections from the Sunday program will be featured at demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday, after which the musicians will participate in discussions moderated by scholar Marjorie Ann Ciarlillo. Sunday, 1 PM, and Monday and Tuesday, 11 AM, Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago, Adams and Michigan; 443-3680.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photos of the two (Wong is male, Kwok female).


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