UIC was alive with the sound of music on 2 December when Chi Quartet came to UIC to perform a concert entitled ‘The Unspoken’. Chi Quartet are a diverse and talented group of performers based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and they presented a concert of classic Scandinavian jazz tunes and original compositions by their Hong Kong/Macao-native founder and pianist, Siu Tin-Chi. The remainder of the group consists of chromatic harmonica player Armand van Wijck, bassist Yiannis Vagianos, and drummer Django Buiting.

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Chi Quartet come to UIC to perform

A large portion of their programme was dedicated to music by Swedish pianist Esbjörn Svensson and his jazz trio, Esbjörn Svensson Trio (E.S.T), one of Europe’s most successful jazz groups at the turn of the 21st century. The Chi Quartet executed these pieces with outstanding musicality and technical prowess.

Four of Siu Tin-Chi’s compositions were performed, each of which echoed the contemplative Scandinavian jazz style of Esbjörn Svensson yet remained inventive with the group’s unique harmonica-playing melodist and expert use of odd time signatures. The group’s chemistry was palpable as they performed these tunes with fervour. Armand’s melodies and solos on the chromatic harmonica were beautifully shaped with excellent musicianship, Tin-Chi had a gentle and masterful touch on the piano, bassist Yiannis ran his fingers nimbly and accurately around his instrument, and drummer Django seemed to float about his drumset with intense control.

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Pianist, Siu Tin-Chi

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Bassist, Yiannis Vagianos

Two of Tin-Chi’s tunes, ‘Sky of the Flatland’ and ‘Mountain Poem’, were meant to depict the drastic differences in the natural world between her homeland in Hong Kong and study in Rotterdam. She attributes a lot of the influence for these works to her extended stay in various metropolises and experience of many different cultures throughout her travels abroad.

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Harmonica player Armand van Wijck

Drum

Drummer Django Buiting

During the day Mr van Wijck was invited to give a lecture in the Rehearsal Studio. He is the first chromatic harmonica player and Dutch man – from a full time jazz study at Codarts Conservatory.

Mr van Wijick was introduced into by Musical Arts Assistant Professor Dr Henry IP Kim Kuok. During the lecture Mr van Wijick shared his aesthetic of Jazz from Northwestern Europe, experience of Jazz composition and improvisation. He played a few different pieces of music and explained how the different sounds that were being heard expressed the surroundings of Scandinavia.

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Mr van Wijick talking about the Scandinavian musical influence

"We should search for our own sound within" expressed Mr van Wijick before explaining how musicians should look to their own heritage and surroundings when trying to compose music.

Mr van Wijick showed a painting called ‘Cosmic Spring’ by František Kupka, which he used as inspiration to compose a piece of music. He explained how he interpreted the image and how he decided on the dynamic of the musical piece to create his own unique sound before playing the composition.

Using a willow flute, Mr van Wijick demonstrated how music and the energy can change from the way you play and who the focus of the energy is. He then played a piece of music on the flute before engaging in the question and answer session.

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Mr van Wijick plays a piece of music during his lecture

A member of the audience asked if the composition changes each time it is performed. Mr van Wijick responding by saying it does as he only gives the instructions but leaves the freedom up to the band members who are playing the music, but it still works due to the dynamics.

A student who is also a pianist asked for advice as she had concerns that staying to the rules and patterns for composing music could limit creativity. Mr van Wijick responded by saying how he takes time to play freely and encourages her to do the same. He then ended by giving an example of how to be creative by performing a short piece on the piano.

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Mr van Wijick (left) giving a demostration on the piano while Siu Tin-Chi (right) looks on

The Chi Quartet thoroughly enjoyed their stay in Zhuhai and performance at UIC stating that they would be glad to return for another performance in this wonderful region and on this beautiful campus.

Reporters: Samuel Burgess (MPRO), Robert Runnels (DCC)
Photographers: Samuel Burgess (MPRO), Liao Zhiling (Y3, CTV)
Editor: Deen He (MPRO)
(from MPRO and DCC with thanks to ELC)