Sheng Dong: A Moving Sound

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

19/10/2014 - 19/10/2014

Nelson Arts Festival 2014

Production Details

Sheng Dong, or as it translates in English, A Moving Sound, is a performance company based in Taiwan, which has created a new musical expression that turns Taiwanese and neighbouring Asian musical ideas into inspired and engaging modern songs.

Using traditional instruments such as the vertically held and bowed erhu and the guitar-like instrument known as zhong ruan, A Moving Sound has attracted international attention for opening the door to this unexplored territory, with music that is both ethnic and intensely passionate and creative.

Sheng Dong performed to acclaim at WOMAD UK, and Nelson audiences and critics will be thrilled to see this new musical art based on melodies and instruments from the Far East.

“Transcendent vocals and dance by lead singer Mia Hsieh, Sheng Dong transport listeners to and beyond the Far East to where only the highest art can take us.”

VENUE: Theatre Royal DATE: Sun 19 Oct, 7.30pm
DURATION: 80 mins
PRICE: A Res $43, B Res $37
UNDER 18: A Res $25, B Res $20
SPECIAL: Dinner at Ford’s and Show $69

80 mins

Appreciated greatly by aficionados

Review by Janet Whittington 20th Oct 2014

Sheng Dong is probably the most international and their home the most distant of all the events on the Nelson Arts Festival this year. Furthermore, the strong Taiwanese influence by use of the traditional musical instruments and vocals in Cantonese make it the most unusual of the Festival.

The difference in traditional Chinese music is offset by the troupes founding members, a husband – Scott from New York, and wife – Mia Hsieh from Taiwan. Together they write modern music from a traditional Asian base.  Scott alternates between playing a modern bass guitar and a zhong ruan, which I would describe as a type of European balalaika.

Debbie, the main player of the zhong ruan, easily stands out as the best instrumentalist in the group.

The costumes, particularly for the men are truly magnificent, with gold thread outlining the red and black accented shoulder wings in traditional Asian style. Hsieh’s bodice and skirt glitter in richly adorned brocade. The shimmering colour holds the audience gaze, while she dances, through the instrumental pieces, hands held Thai style. Hsieh’s vocal range is phenomenal – I swear she must reach High C above High C.

The truly Chinese sound in the show is the Erhu, a vertically held ‘violin’ with only two strings and no frets to guide the hand, and a familiar hair strung bow. The sound it produces is a confluence of mournful Chinese in a minor key, but, as my companion puts it, with a more familiar toe-tapping feeling.

The inspired lighting is created for them by local Nelson lighting technicians. Prior to the concert a beautiful green leafy effect plays over the black curtains. Heavily misted lighting gives the beginning an ethereal quality, haunting the vocals from Hsieh very effectively. During the song they first wrote 12 years ago – Water of Life – mist and flickering white shafts of life simulated an underwater feel.

This is the least attended concert of the Festival for me. The smaller audience still appreciates them – cheering and stamping until Sheng Dong plays an encore. A great show for aficionados of this art form.



classical lass October 22nd, 2014

My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed this performance, which was vibrant and exciting, and just the sort of new and exhilarating music  one expects and hopes for at an Arts Festival.  We both felt very sorry that the turn out was so small, as these performers deserved to have a packed house. They were excellent. We travelled an hour and a half from Marlborough to hear them, and were richly rewarded. So pleased that they came to sing for us, and hope that they were not too disappointed at the small, but very appreciative audience.

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