As a sequel to our introductory talk on kunqu 崑曲 with Ms. Cheung Lai-chun 張麗真, the Executive Committee is delighted to organise a special kunqu opera performance by Ms. Ying Kam-sha 邢金沙 at the elegant setting of the Fung Ping Shan Gallery. A recipient of the Plum Blossom Award, Ms. Ying will demonstrate the delicate relation between words, music and dance that exemplifies the uniqueness of this classical performing art.
Dating back to the 14th century, kunqu music originated in the Wu cultural area. It was given shape in the 16th century by Wei Liangfu 魏良輔 and his contemporaries who combined it with three other forms of southern music, and with northern tunes from the drama of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). Together, they standardized the rules of rhyme, tones, pronunciation, and notation, making it possible for this regional form of music to become the national standard. In 2001, kunqu was listed by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
This evening’s programme will begin with a presentation (in Cantonese) by Ms. Cheung Lai-chun. Immediately following, Ms. Ying Kam-sha will perform the role of Du Liniang 杜麗娘 in a selected scene Dreamland Revisited 尋夢 from the classic kunqu opera The Peony Pavilion 牡丹亭. This masterpiece was written by Tang Xianzu 湯顯祖, the greatest poet playwright of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). In an utterly refined and languidly poetic style, the drama reveals romantic yearnings and afflictions of love endured by the young in the feudalistic society of China. This daring and avant-garde subject, which is an outcry against the suppressive tradition, together with the moving poetics of the language, makes the poet's endorsement of freedom of love between the two young protagonists a lasting force in the history of Chinese literature and theatre.
Cheung Lai-chun is a member of the Commission for the Research and Promotion of Kunju of the Hong Kong Institute for Promotion of Chinese Culture, researcher of the Centre for Chinese Cultural Heritage of the Hong Kong Baptist University, and the chairman of the Concordia Kunqu Society of Hong Kong. She teaches the Art of Kunqu at the Department of Chinese Language and Literature of the Hong Kong Baptist University. Dedicated to the exploration of traditional Chinese vocal art, she has given vocal interpretations in three recent publications in Hong Kong, one of which is The Vocalisation of the Ci Poems of Jiang Kui 白石詞擬唱 published by the Department of Chinese Language and Literature of the Hong Kong Baptist University.
Ying Kam-sha is a former actress of the Zhejian Kunqu Opera Troupe who specialized in the role of guimendan (highborn female) and daomadan (young female warriors). She studied under the famous Chuan-generation Kunqu Opera artist Yao Chuanxiang. Ying is a recipient of the Outstanding Little Hundred Flowers Award, the First Prize for Young Performer at the 2nd Zhejian Theatre Festival, and the 24th Chinese Theatre Plum Blossom Award. She actively promotes the development of Kunqu, Peking and Cantonese Opera in Hong Kong. She is currently a lecturer of performance in the School of Chinese Opera at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Her repertoires performed include Tale of the Wicked Sea, Legend of the White Snake, Mountain Lanke, The Butterfly Dream, The Hundred Flowers Fairy and The Peony Pavilion. Ying Kam-sha and Wen Yu Hang performed the Tale of the Jade Hairpin for the opening performance of the 2016 Chinese Opera Festival in Hong Kong.