Christani Pal, Community Engagement Assistant
Photos: Robert Torres
For her Fall residency with Celebrity Series, Shaw Pong Liu worked with four youth string ensembles on Chinese pieces that she arranged, as well as presented string workshops in schools across the city of Boston. Her collaboration with ensembles from Bridge Boston Charter School, Conservatory Lab Charter School, Boston CityWide String Orchestra, City Strings United and the Atlantic Youth Orchestra culminated in two spectacular performances alongside tabla player Sandeep Das as part of the Neighborhood Arts: Dorchester and Roxbury Stringfests.
Shaw Pong is not only a prolific violinist but is also versed on the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese instrument, and as a vocalist. Sandeep is a talented, genre-crossing Indian Tabla virtuoso whose entire skill set comes from over a decade of aural training. Using their experience and skills, these artists were able to teach children the spoken and unspoken language of music. During the first rehearsals, Shaw Pong had the musicians think about the power of their instruments. Together they discussed the composition, materials and techniques that make stringed instruments great pieces of technology.
At the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Dorchester, the Bridge Boston Charter School performed “The Royal March of the Lion” from Carnival of Animals and Thoinot Arbeau’s Sword Dance. A chamber group of Conservatory Lab played Wagner’s famous Ride of the Valkyries and Shostakovich’s Marche Slav. Without a conductor, the musicians maintain their tempo and nicely express their dynamics, listening and blending into each other’s sound. In the collaborative experience Stringfest has created, listening is key. Your instrument, the music, the people around you — your heart — all have something to say. Taking time to understand these languages helps you become a better musician and person.