Musicians: Wong On Yuen : Gaohu / Guo Yazhi: Suona, Guan, Sheng, Dizi, Xiao / Sunny Wong: Erhu / Yu Jia: Pipa / Leslie Tan: Cello / Margie Tong: Percussion / Belinda Foo: Conductor, Piano, Music Assistant / Mark Chan: Composer, Producer, Voice, Xiao

“Little Toys” Silent Film Scoring – Cinema Muet:      Musicians: Wong On Yuen : Gaohu  Guo Yazhi: Suona, Guan, Sheng, Dizi, Xiao  Sunny Wong: Erhu    Yu Jia: Pipa  Leslie Tan: Cello  Margie Tong: Percussion Belinda Foo: Conductor, Piano, Music Assistant Mark Chan: Composer, Producer, Voice, Xiao

  • 2003 Hong Kong Arts Festival
  • 2003 Singapore Arts Festival
  • 2003 Images Of Asia, Copenhagen, Denmark,
  • 2007 Shanghai International Arts Festival,
  • 2010 Singapore Season Paris, Musee Quai Branley

“Singaporean composer Mark Chan brought a deeper nuance to his work – breathing life into the silent Chinese film classic Little Toys” – Clarissa Oon, Straits Times June 25 2003

“Chan’s score gave the movie.. a gratifying, emotional depth” – Tan Shzr Ee, Straits Times, 16 June 2003

“Mark Scores A Hit in China”

Home > Life! > Life People > Story
Nov 5, 2007
Mark scores a hit in China
The Singaporean composer’s music for silent film Little Toys applauded in Shanghai
By Hong Xinyi

IN SHANGHAI – THERE is something poignant yet ironic about watching Little Toys, a 1933 Chinese silent film starring movie icon Ruan Lingyu, in the Shanghai of the 21st century. Last Saturday evening, a full house of more than 1,200 people attended the screening of this made-in-Shanghai classic at the Shanghai Concert Hall. The movie was accompanied by a score written by Singapore composer Mark Chan and performed by a group of eight musicians playing both Eastern and Western instruments. The one-night-only show was part of this year’s Singapore Season, a month-long showcase of Singapore arts and culture in Beijing and Shanghai. Little Toys tells the story of a talented toy-maker (Ruan) whose life is thrown into disarray first by China’s civil wars and later by the Japanese invasion. The movie takes a tender, protective view towards the joy and integrity of handmade things, from Ruan’s hand-crafted playthings to, one could surmise, the distinctive style of a home-grown movie. There is a muted horror of assembly-line manufacturing in this movie, with characters repeatedly expressing ambivalence and fear about both factory-made toys and artillery. Today, of course, China makes, by some counts, some 80 per cent of the world’s toys in its mushrooming factories, a fact that was recently thrown into the world’s consciousness by the recall of some defective products. In Shanghai, foreign franchises like Starbucks pepper the city with an ever-increasing frequency and tenacity. Amid this backdrop of cosmopolitan modernity, enjoying Chan’s score in the exquisitely conserved Shanghai Concert Hall, which first opened in 1930 as a cinema named Nanking Theatre, almost feels like a defiant stand against globalisation, a force that tends to wipe out distinctive regional differences. Says Chan, 48, on why he wanted to perform in this venue: ‘It’s not just about the accoustics, but also the ambience, an ineffable thing you can’t define. ‘There are some famous halls that everyone would love to play, but which are very cold. I don’t think this is one of those halls – you can feel the spirit of movies past here.’ Shanghai native and retiree Yuan Huizhong, 60, attended the show with a group of her friends. They also attended the concert staged by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra last month, which was also part of the Season. ‘It is our first time watching this film, and the music complements the film very well, especially during the war scenes,’ she says. Says another audience member, Mr Lu Baojian, 60, an art teacher: ‘I really enjoyed the experience. It’s a very good format, to match the music to the film; you can really feel the impact of the story.’ Mr Dong Ruirong, 72, a retired architect, attended the show with his family. ‘Before attending the show, we still had some doubts about how it would turn out. But it was really enjoyable. It’s so interesting – how did a Singaporean composer know we have this movie?’ Explains Chan: ‘The historical setting of the movie moved me because it was about China trying to move forward as a country. ‘And then there was the story of this artistic, entrepreneurial and determined woman, so the scope and breadth of the story allowed for both grand and intimate themes, and I liked the challenge.’

“Treat this as a total sight and sound experience..” Russell Heng, Backstage at the Singapore Arts Festival 2003 “..

I have attended many Arts Festival performances – Cesaria Evora, the French National Orchestra, the Hagen Quartet, Yundi Li – and as much as we thought we would LIKE Little Toys, we did not expect it to so thoroughly trounce, in our opinion, all of the other performances we had attended. The film itself was a revelation, and your music was sublime. “ Jacqueline Deley

“Mark’s music fuses a variety of influences into one brilliant and expressive voice, rich with lyrical beauty. The score he wrote for my plays displays a mastery of theatrical technique, and also stands as engaging listening all on its own. Mr Chan is undoubtedly one of the emerging talents on the world music scene. “               David Hwang, playwright of M Butterfly


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