New concepts, new instruments, a new level and a new realm
Excellence of HKCO’s Eco-Huqin Series further recognized
Recipient of the “Distinguished Innovative Environmental Concept” Award at the Green China 2014 - Environmental Achievement Award (5 June, 2014)
Recipient of the 2013 Green Innovations Award in the Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence (2 May, 2014)
Recipient of China’s 4th Ministry of Culture Innovation Award 2012
On the recommendation of the Home Affairs Bureau, Hong Kong SAR Government
The Eco-Huqin Series is a system of reformed (or remodelled) musical instruments developed by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra motivated by the need to create a new orchestral voice. The design encapsulates a three-pronged motive, which is to address environmental concerns, uphold a musical heritage and break new ground. The engineering process involved selecting, through shortlisting, a range of renewable PET membranes to replace the python skin that was used for the original, older model in order to meet the primary goal of environmental protection, and redesigning the sound box through a scientific method of calibration to greatly enhance the physical functions of the instruments.
In remodelling the gaohu, erhu and zhonghu, the main emphasis is on the expansion of their physical capabilities while preserving their traditional timbre and mode of performance. As for the gehu and the double bass gehu, it is to re-create bowed ethnic instruments suitable for use in a modern Chinese orchestra in order to achieve an overall orchestral sound. The entire set of vibrating membrane string instruments has a range of six octaves that blend well with each other, while the volume is larger by one-third when compared with the traditional model. The result is an unprecedented breakthrough in the overall orchestral voice, in terms of nuances, texture, body, depth and volume. It has the typical tonal appeal of the Chinese huqin yet with enriched expressiveness and compelling qualities. The result is the opening up of new dimensions for Chinese music on the whole.
The research and development process of the first generation of Eco-Huqins took place between 2005 and 2009. The second generation is now in full force of consolidating. As a cultural ambassador of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra has a busy performing schedule and is expected to maintain a high standard at all times. Product testing and the artists’ virtuosity have been, therefore, understandably under tremendous stress. Thanks to the support of the Council, the experience, acumen and adventurous spirit of the Artistic Director, the unreserved facilitation of the Executive Director, and the dedicated teamwork of all at HKCO in terms of repeated testing of the new products and offering of suggestions for improvement. These instruments have been played in over a thousand concert performances at home and abroad. They are the product of a creative cultural industry in Hong Kong, and the research leading to fruition is in tandem with the ecological trends of our time. They are representative of our unyielding spirit to innovate in order to reach the twin goals of environmental protection and artistic excellence. With the growing number of users, their influence is also increasing in leaps and bounds, and being felt in all parts of the world. In short, they are rewriting the world’s opinion of Chinese orchestral music.
Although we see the success of the reform project so far, we must bear in mind that the road to final fruition is still long. As the Book of Changes famously states, ‘Just as the heavens have their ways of self-rejuvenation, the superior man ought never to rest in his self-improvement.’ We shall continue to work towards our goal.
Research Fellow, Research and Development Department;
Research & Development Officer (Musical Instruments)
Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra
6 May, 2014