About Chai Found

Since 1991, the Chai Found Music Workshop (CFMW) has been active on national and international music scenes. Over the past years, the group has been performing contemporary classical music as well as traditional Chinese and Taiwanese music in countless concerts in Taiwan, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. This has gained CFMW the reputation of being one of the foremost Sizhu (Chinese chamber music) ensembles in the world.

The idea behind all of CFMW’s musical and cultural activities is the advancement of traditional Taiwanese music, both inside and outside of the confines of Taiwan. CFMW adheres to its traditional foundation and perfects its arts achievement with contemporary extensions. The Council of Cultural Affairs of Taiwan has been supporting and endorsing the group’s activities for years, and has granted it numerous awards for excellence.

The group is active in three distinct areas:

TRADITIONAL TAIWANESE AND CHINESE MUSIC

CFMW is keeping up and enriching the ample tradition of Taiwanese music on national and international stages in a chamber music or an orchestral setting.

The instruments of CFMW are the six most representative of the Sizhu tradition: the erhu (two-stringed Chinese violin), the di (Chinese bamboo flute), the pipa (Chinese lute), the guzheng (Chinese zither), the yangqin (Chinese dulcimer), and the ruanxian (Chinese banjo or guitar). CFMW has commissioned many Taiwanese composers to write arrangements of traditional music for the Sizhu instrumentation.

The Chai Found Chinese Orchestra, a large symphony orchestra with Chinese and Western instruments, gathers on special occasions and presents programs of traditional music.

CFMW’s musicians have spent a substantial amount of time touring the villages, towns, and cities of Taiwan playing countless concerts in local culture centers, schools, and outdoor venues. As a cultural envoy for Taiwan the group has been invited to international stages, and has conducted workshops on Chinese music and instruments.

STAGE PRODUCTIONS

Chai Found Music Workshop is staging popular music productions including choreography and drama elements. The major works were:

Shichitaro and the Crazy Girl (2003) “Children Musical production”

CFMW’s large-scale stage show which introduces Chinese instruments to children was an entertaining trip into the world of Sizhu music and theater.

Ambush! “Eastern Instrumental Theater I production”

Eastern Instrumental Theater is a cross- disciplinary production of CFMW that synthesizes elements of traditional Chinese music, choreography, and drama. In 2005, CFMW staged its first Eastern Instrumental Theater production Ambush!, recounts legendary episodes from early Chinese history: The cruel war between Liu Bang and Xiang Yu, which led to the dramatic suicide of Xiang Yu and his wife Yu Ji, and the institution of the Han Dynasty under Liu Bang. Ambush! was performed in every major city throughout Taiwan with enthusiastic responses from audiences and media.

Eastern Legends “Intercultural & pop music production”

The Eastern Legends is a program of classics of Taiwanese and Chinese Music and original compositions by Chen-Ming Huang rendered in rock and techno style, featuring splendid lighting design and minutely choreographed movements of the musicians. For its premiere in April 2007 a world record was challenged: over 1000 erhu players of all ages gathered in Taipei to perform jointly with the musicians of Chai Found.

Successively, the Eastern Legends has been staged in every major city of Taiwan and went on an extended tour for two months in United States and Canada in fall on 2008. In 2010, CFMW also join the open ceremony of Taipei Culture Center in Tokyo and being the guest performers for celebrates. Since 2012, CFMW gathering more excellent young musician from across Taiwan, the show “Eastern Legends” has attracted over 10,000 viewers when it was staged in Kaohsiung Wei Wu Ying Center of the Arts, The square of National Concert Hall, Taichung Fulfillment Amphitheatre and Taoyuan County Performing Arts Center. In May of 2014, CFMW started troupe concerts in America included Pennsylvania, Houston and Dallas. Since CFMW started to perform Eastern Legends, this concert has attracted more than ten thousands up audiences.

The Journey of the Monkey King (2009) “Eastern Instrumental Theater II production”

The Journey of the Monkey King (2009) depicts the Buddhist concept of the insubstantiality of the world. It is based on the classical Chinese novel ‘Journey to the West’ and shows the spiritual experiences of Sūn Wùkōng, the monkey king, and his journey to the West with the monk Táng Sānzàng. Chen-Ming Huang’s score is a contemporary take on traditional Chinese Orchestral music, drawing on the ensemble’s strong command of traditional instruments. A juggler working with a glass ball represents the infinite mutations of the monkey king’s mind. The performance is directed by renowned Chinese opera director Hsiao-Pin Lee.

Limitless (Wuji) (2011) “Eastern Instrumental Theater III production”

Limitless is Chai Found’s Latest stage production and the third in its series of Eastern Instrumental Theater. Inspired by Taoist philosophy, the performance utilizes a framework divided into 24 seasonal segments to tell how each seasonal segment gives way to the next in a manner corresponding to the vicissitudes of tragedy, disappointment, joy and fulfillment that are part of each person’s life. It also incorporates the theme of chivalry, and CFMW attempts to expand the scope of how chivalry is perceived to serve as a metaphor for various aspects of personal character.

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

Chai Found Music Workshop is adding their Chinese timbres to contemporary classical music by commissioning, performing and recording original music and teaming up with contemporary music ensembles from the West. To motivate contemporary composers to write for Chinese instruments and to enhance communication between the composers and the performing ensemble, since 2009, Chai Found has been jointly organizing the Contemporary Sizhu Music Composition Contests internationally each year with the International Society for Contemporary Music Association of Taiwan.

The unique character of Sizhu music and its instruments has attracted a large number of composers from all over the world who have written new pieces either for Chai Found alone or for combinations of Chinese and Western instruments.

CFMW’s invitations to international music festivals (with both contemporary and traditional music) include: Barcelona Arts Festival, Spain (1992), Warsaw Autumn, Poland (1992/1999), Hörgänge, Vienna, Austria (2000), Cologne Music Festival, Germany (2001), Music Biennale Zagreb, Croatia (2001), Gaida Contemporary Music Festival, Lithuania (2002), Berliner Festspiele, Germany (2004), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK (2004). Festival Dimension, Seoul, Korea (2009). Cultural Olympiad, Canada (2010). Soundstreams, Canada(2011,2013), Grenoble Festival, France (2011), Ottawa ChamberFest, MusicFest Vancouver and Harbourfront Fest, Canada(2011), Tazawako Music Festival (2012), Beijing Modern Music Festival (2013).

CFMW has toured the following countries: Austria, Costa Rica, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, the Philippines, Canada, Poland, China, Spain and several times in the United States.

CFMW’s collaborations with contemporary music ensembles include: Nieuw Ensemble, Amsterdam/Holland (2002), Klangforum, Vienna/Austria (2004), EXXJ - Ensemble of the 20th Century, Vienna/Austria (2006), NDR Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg/Germany (2008), Ensemble

2e2m, Paris/France (2008/2011), Jack String Quartet, New York/USA (2009), Music.lab, Vienna/Austria (2010/2011) and Accordes String Quartet, Toronto/Canada (2011).

Chai Found Music Workshop will keep the faith based on maintain the tradition, but also combine with the contemporary to continue provide a high quality cultural integration platform, presenting a broader and professional performances. For the CFMW, we inherited not just the tradition, but let the traditional music to develop again.