The TENG Company presents ​Heirlooms​, a​ ​documentary-concert inspired by Singapore’s Chinese dialect music traditions

news 1 Aug 2019

The concert, in collaboration with Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, marks the culmination of The Forefathers Project, a four-year initiative by TENG to celebrate and reimagine the sounds of Singapore’s unsung Chinese music pioneers

Singapore-born arts company, TENG, will present Heirlooms, a documentary-concert that reimagines the sounds of Singapore’s Chinese forefathers on 11 October 2019.

Held at the Esplanade Concert Hall, this one-night-only showcase will premiere a repertoire of eight new commissioned works inspired by local Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew and Hakka music traditions, performed with instruments found only in these folk ensembles. Unlike other concerts, Heirlooms will also enthrall the audience with its symphony of sight and sound as the music compositions are paired harmoniously with multimedia projections documenting interviews with first-generation masters, luthiers, instrument dealers and music protégés. Heirlooms is in support of the Singapore Bicentennial.

The concert is a highlight of The Forefathers Project, a four-year research journey by TENG and supported by Mapletree to uncover the origins of Singapore’s Chinese music. Featuring instruments such as the Gaohu (Cantonese), Nanpa (Hokkien), and Teochew Guzheng, TENG will integrate the folk traditions with contemporary styles and influences in their commissions to inspire greater appreciation of our rich heritage.

Co-Founder and Creative Director of TENG, Dr Samuel Wong said, “Many of us may not be aware that Singapore’s early Chinese music was in fact migrant folk music from the south of China. To trace the lineage and evolution of the craft, we embarked on The Forefathers Project to learn the ebbs and flows of dialect music from these pioneers and share their legacy. Just like our forefathers who adapted and localised traditional music to make it our their own, we will also put a fresh spin to these folk tunes, which we hope can resonate with a wider audience at the Heirlooms concert.”

Some of the first-generation maestros featured in the documentaries include the late Mr Yeo How Jiang who started Singapore’s first Chinese orchestra, third-generation Chinese instrumental retailer Eng Tiang Huat, and protégés from the Siong Leng Musical Association.

In the lead-up to the concert in October, TENG will be adapting these anecdotes into a five-episode series on its Facebook (@theTENGensemble) and YouTube (@theTENGcompany) platforms to detail the uphill task and significance of preserving the folk music legacy in Singapore. Music videos of the new commissions will also be produced and hosted online after.

Heirlooms will be held at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 11 October 2019, at 7.30pm. The tickets which are priced at $25, $35 and $45, go on sale today via SISTIC.

For more information, please visit Heirloom’s official Facebook event page, or SISTIC.