An Audio-film concert
Venue: Esplanade, Singapore
Date and Time: 27th February 2016, 7:30pm to 9:30pm
*for tickets refer to the end of the article
- Script writer/story: Tze Toh
- Music composer: Tze Toh
- Animations/3D graphics by Toh Yixue
- Orchestra: Perfomance by TO ensemble
- Soloists: Lazar T.Sebastine (Indian violin), Teo Boon Chye (saxophone), Christina Zhou (violin), Shing Min Yap (Soprano), Wei Lung Wong (drums), Wendy Phua (e.bass)
A touch of future virtual reality may be coming sooner for your imagination and experience. On the evening of 27 February 2016, Tze Toh (meet and greet him with a silent ‘T’; Ze Toh), a music composer is leading his orchestra TO ensemble for an upcoming audio-film performance at the Esplanade in Singapore.
The story takes place in year 2051, four decades forward in timeline where a third world war devastated planet Earth’s surface, and nothing was left sustainable or to recover. With the aid of technology, Mankind then rebuild their civilization in the skies, building a massive landscape of Sky-cities with little thoughts remain for the abandoned natural Earth’s surface.
As it is the nature of Man, the blue skies seem infinite. While the expansion of the landscape continues, it dims the sunlight reaching the surface of Earth. The act from Man brings to the complete collapse of our world, giving no room for recovery and restoration of the Earth’s surface.
A short conversation with Tze Toh on his production, Dance of the Earth.
Lin: The name of the production Dance of the Earth is beautifully coined. Is there a story or inspiration behind the preferred word ‘Dance’?
Tze: Everything in life has a pulse, especially so with nature. Everything in life and nature is made up of cycles, and to me it is a constant dance. Dance of the Earth refers to the cycles in nature and life and that it is always full of energy/spirit, full of renewal and rejuvenation. When one element, an insect or an animal ends its dance for the day, another of its kind picks it up and continues. It is a relentless dance, one which I believe, should be perceived as joyful and eternal. It is also a cycle that needs to be respected, because it is a dance that keeps life on this planet in harmony with one and another, and a dance that keeps us all alive. So when Man disrupts this dance ever so often, it brings us to the question – why can’t we respect and appreciate this beautiful planet more, along with everything else that lives on it. After all, nature has given us everything we have, since the beginning.
Lin: What were the challenges in the preparation of this audio-film production?
Tze: The music itself is an immense challenge, combining many diverse genres from jazz, film score, Indian music to the orchestral/classical music to pop, anime-inspired music into one coherent sonic tapestry that tells the story. Next, as a composer you will have to consider combining the music with the visuals. Whether it’s video segments or the animation and actually having them interact or inspire each other in a meaningful way… the challenge is enormous! Especially so since this concert there is voice-acting, sound design and it involves a small fusion orchestra as well. Overall it is a much complicated and larger scale production than the first LAND with NO SUN concert. There will also be more musicians to the previous production; 7 soloists with a chamber orchestra of around 15 musicians and 10-12 videos/animations chapters.
Lin: What are the challenges to incorporate both film and live music in a theatre?
Tze: For Dance on the Earth production, we have decided to perform at the Esplanade Recital Studio. The recital studio is used mainly for music performances. There are already facilities for video projection and it works out well with the audio-film concept. The main limitation with the set up of a conventional performance space is that it has clearly defined stage and area for the audience, with the musicians usually on stage.
We want to create an immersive audio experience and have musicians placed around the studio instead – we try to ensure they have a comfortable performance space.
Lin: From the synopsis, the storyline transits from birth in a ‘clean’ environment and a thirst for curiosity leading to a series of adventures. Briefly describe to us about the momentum of the music, and possibly if there’s a catalyst to trigger your imagination during this production.
Tze: The storyline takes place not after the last concert but during the period of time where Man has chosen technology over nature, and decided to give up on the surface/nature and choosing to live in the Sky-cities. A girl born in the Sky-cities begins to wonder if life exists in the world beneath the Sky-cities, when she recognizes that the first whale she had once seen was a hologram. She then escapes down to the surface to search for leads and answers.
The audio-film narrates her discoveries on the surface; about Man’s past, present and future. The beauty of Music is its ability to describe things where words often fail – especially complicated emotions or abstract ideas. Hence I always feel that it is a perfect medium to communicate deep, complicated and multi-layered ideas. As a film composer, I am always having this fascination on how music can really change the perspective of a film, even down to the performance of the actor or the outcome of the story!
I think the title Dance of the Earth sums up the inspiration for the music pretty much. As mentioned, it’s many dances not one, and I hear it as a sonic tapestry of many layers of sounds. It could be the flow of the oceans/rivers, the journeys of the wind, the insects at night making their own little orchestra, birds greeting each other in the morning, or even in our minds the commentary we make of what we see, feel around us each day. I think the phrase “soundtrack of life” comes to mind here. But here it is a bigger soundtrack, one that encompasses all life, from elements of nature – the wind, the rivers, to the insects, animals and us human beings.
Lin: What are the key take-home messages in this production?
Tze: I would like people to start thinking of ourselves as part of something much bigger. We, as human beings, tend to only see the little picture, that of what we want and desire. We often disregard the consequential impact of our actions on society, nature or the world at large. It takes a lot of shift in thinking and the genuine desire to be aware of what’s happening in our world, for us to want to be part of this positive energy that drives, to help it to evolve into a better place, for not just individuals but every living creatures and the planet itself.
This is ultimately important because only when we truly understand that we are part of this web of life – our every action impacts the world, then we also realize that like a dance, we are connected with the planet through time. The way we choose to live now will decide what kind of world we are leaving behind for our children’s children.
- Concert tickets link : http://landwithnosun2.peatix.com/
- ToEnsemble’s official site : http://toensemble.com
- A quick re-cap of the first series: http://toensemble.com/land-with-no-sun/
NaoRococo is giving out three pairs of tickets, i.e. three lucky winners. Simply answer the following question: How many soloists will be performing at the audio-film concert; Dance of the Earth?
Write your answer to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries with the correct answer will walk away with a pair of tickets. Each winner is entitled to a pair of tickets.
Last date of submission: 20th February 2016.
Source: NaoRococo and Tze Toh