Cantonese music ensemble debuts at East-West Center

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Apr 5, 2010

UH Mānoa’s Center for Chinese Studies, Confucius Institute and Ethnomusicology Program will present a unique concert of Cantonese Naahmyam narrative and instrumental music at Keoni Auditorium at East-West Center’s Imin Center on Thursday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m.
Naahmyam narrative, a musical genre equivalent in sentiments to the Mississippi Delta blues and Portuguese fado, is traditionally performed by blind musicians. Sung in the Cantonese dialect and usually about love, sorrow, and the woes of everyday life, naahmyam narrative consists of recited and sung passages with formulaic instrumental accompaniment. This type of popular entertainment was popular in teahouses, entertainment venues, and private homes in Canton, Hong Kong, and Macau in the late 19th and the first half of 20th century. Since the emergence of radio broadcast in the 1950s, naahmyam gradually disappeared. The repopularization of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong and Macau in the1980s directly reignited interests on naahmyam for the younger generation.    
This concert features Macau-born naahmyam singer Master Au Kuan-cheong. One of the few surviving and most important naahmyam singers of his generation, Master Au was trained as a Daoist priest and Cantonese opera musician. Beginning his professional career in his teens, Master Au has performed widely with many Cantonese opera troupes in Southern China. While he continues to perform Cantonese opera, he is in demand as a ritualist and teacher. In 2008, the Macau Government awarded the Commendation of Prestige and Merit to Master Au for his artistry and contribution to the promotion and preservation of naahmyam. In recent years, Master Au has frequently been featured in solo performances and public forums on naahmyam. For this concert, he will be accompanied by several experts of Cantonese instrumental music.

In addition to performing naahmyam music, musicians will also perform well-known Cantonese instrumental pieces. Ensemble members include Ho Kang Ming, pipa; To Wing, erqin; Chen Xiao Hua, guzheng; Au Yeung Siu Kwan, vocal; with UH Mānoa’s Frederick Lau appearing as a guest performer on the dizi and xiao.
Tickets are available only at the door for $10; $5 for seniors/students. For more information or to reserve a ticket, call 956-6083.