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Singapore

We scavenge and curate homegrown works from aspiring artists and dreamers alike.

Intimate Grandeur

Happenings

The C.H.O.P.P.A Experimental Music Festival ran from 22nd to 24th January at the LASALLE College of the Arts, featuring prominent musicians like Toshimaru Nakamura, Gerry Hemingway, Anla Courtis, Xu Fengxia and members from homegrown experimental and electronica band The Observatory. 

Intimate Grandeur

Audrey Tan

 Featuring C.H.O.P.P.A Music Festival

https://www.facebook.com/choppamusicfest

 

C.H.O.P.P.A's lineup included notable artistes such as American jazz composer and percussionist Gerry Hemingway. 

“CLOSER TO THE musicians,” Darren Moore, artistic director of the C.H.O.P.P.A. Experimental Music Festival urged the audience as we sat cross-legged on the floor. Obediently, we wriggled our bums across the floor, as musicians Yong Yandsen and Daysuke Takaoka wielded their instruments and took their seats less than a metre away from the audience.

As purple and yellow spotlights cast gentle hues on the performers in the pitch-black room, we braced ourselves to be reeled in for an intimate musical experience.

C.H.O.P.P.A., which ran from 22nd to 24th January at LASALLE College of The Arts, took experimental music fans on a thrilling yet well-paced journey. The festival, previously held in 2008 and 2010, showcased prominent musicians including Toshimaru Nakamura, Gerry Hemingway, Anla Courtis and members from homegrown experimental and electronica band The Observatory. 

Moore, who is a lecturer of Music at LASALLE, played the drums on all three nights with bands Game of Patience, Tim O’Dwyer Trio and string-instrumentalist Xu Fengxia. Moore had started C.H.O.P.P.A. in 2007 as a monthly experimental series, but developed it into a music festival the following year and has brought C.H.O.P.P.A. to new heights since it first started.

The previous festivals were great but this festival had a very strong line up and the production values were much higher.
— Darren Moore, artistic director of C.H.O.P.P.A

Indeed, all the performances – ranging from the mellow and poignant to the rousing and spirited, had left us spell bound. Saxophonist Yong and tuba player Takaoka paired up for the opening act on the second night, putting together an intimate set. Yong’s creation of soft breathing sounds and mechanical noises and Takaoka’s extended technique involving metal bowls melded seamlessly, while both showed individual finesse in their craft. 

Yong Yandsen (left) and Daysuke Takaoka moved audiences with their set on the second night. 

Xu Fengxia  on the guzheng. 

Towards the end of the second night, Xu brought the house down with her dexterous playing of the guzheng and sanxian and electrifying vocals during her set with Tim O’Dwyer (saxophone) and Moore (drums).

On the last night, O’Dwyer, Moore and Clayton Thomas (double bass) forming the Tim O’Dwyer Trio, set the stage for the festival’s dramatic finale. Their free-jazz set displayed a palpable chemistry built over more than 10 years of playing together.

While most of the sets were abstract improv pieces, the musicians kept a clear direction for each piece, at the same time managing to surprise the audience.

The Tim O'Dwyer Trio (from left): Tim O'Dwyer, Darren Moore and Clayton Thomas. 

The music is clear for both the player and the audience. For audiences who are not used to such music, they can connect to the musician through the performance.
— Clayton Thomas, double bass player

It was this connection that the Baliphonics – a band playing a mix of traditional Sri Lankan Music, contemporary jazz and improvisation, had managed to establish with the audience. Their finale performance of the Båli ritual involving dance and chanting, might have been abstract to some, but they captivated us through their showmanship and boisterous audience interaction. As the band reached the climax of their set, one of the band members ran up to audience members, hugging and even shaking some of us.

Like how the festival ended on a high, Moore expressed a hopeful view towards the developing experimental scene in Singapore.

The Baliphonics made the audience go wild with their remarkable showmanship. 

I think the scene is heading in a very positive direction and it is great to be a part of it. It would be good to see more spaces for experimental and more musicians getting involved.
— Darren Moore, artistic director of C.H.O.P.P.A

Images from David Wirawan and LASALLE College of the Arts. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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