Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Taking inspiration from Macau’s foremost missionary

Posted by Kimberly on November 9, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
November 9, 2007, page 4 (670 words)

Evonne Lei’s concerts at the Macau Cultural Centre over the next two days beginning tonight were inspired by missionary Robert Morrison’s journey to Macau 200 years ago.
A pianist who also composes her own music, Evonne will be accompanied by guest harpist Shannon Chieh and a string quartet comprising of Hong Veng Kin, Jacky Cheong, Anthony Cheong and Linda Lei.
“I mainly want to bring about comfort to one’s heart, to touch them,” said Evonne is her exclusive interview with the Macau Daily Times.
“The idea of having this concert was made five years ago, when I knew this year would be the 200th anniversary of his coming to Macau.
“The music I wrote for this concert is my contribution to Robert Morrison and to praise him for his contribution to the culture and history of China and Macau,” she said.
While this is Evonne’s fourth performance in Macau, the Macau-born pianist has also performed in outdoor concerts where all her performances have been her own work.
In 1999, she composed and released a CD of works with a guitarist, “called ‘Macau Sensation’ showing my expressions towards Macau and the handover as well.”
She spoke her her classical training in piano, choosing the instrument because “I like the melody of the piano which inspired me to make my own work.
“The piano was always my favourite instrument but I also tried to get in touch with some Chinese instruments. I used the piano to express my inspirations from Chinese music, such as writing music with a more Chinese style, getting inspiration from the Chinese lute,” she added.
Of her Macau performance, she said, “I want to show that Morrison’s bringing of love and compassion to Macau is the same attitude I have towards my music and performing.”
Evonne’s work is very much admired by her guest harpist Shannon Chieh, who added “her music in some way, is very soothing for me.
“There are some high moments in the music but somehow she manages to make them sound very touching and relaxing, even the dramatic fort she said.
With her first concert in Macau, the Philharmonia Taiwan principal harpist has experience as both a soloist and within chamber music, and she pointed out the benefits of both.
“As a soloist you can express anything you want as you’re the only one expressing the feeling of the music,” but with chamber music, she added, “it’s an interesting prospect to listen to other people’s hearts and how they express to the same music and how to co-operate with others. It’s the most fulfilling part of playing chamber music.”
And despite being five months pregnant, her condition hasn’t yet had a strong impact on her playing.
“It hasn’t changed my playing too much, so long as my belly doesn’t touch the sound-board, I can play. But because the harp is very heavy and all the half notes need pedals to operate it can make me tired more easily.
“I try to play more beautiful music for him [the baby],” she added.
The stage setting was created by set designer James, Chu Cheok Son, who brought over a variety of plants and flowers to create a sense of nature inside the auditorium for the first time.
“I had a number of meetings with Yvonne to discuss exactly what she wanted and what kind of images she was expecting,” he said.
“We both felt that the power of nature was inspiring and really made you have a feeling of awe and respect,” he added.
Not that he’s entirely satisfied with the result, referring to his satisfaction levels a being between “80 and 90 percent” because “the plants are not reacting so well to the air conditioning being off rather than on all the time.”
Having co-operated with Evonne on three previous occasions he said of her music, “she has her own style and most importantly, she composes her own music which is quite touching.
“It’s a kind of talent she has which I love very much.”

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