A Collaboration in Laos

A group of YST students, led by Ho Qian Hui (Viola, BMus Year 3) recently participated in a collaborative project with the National Lao Music and Dance School (NLMDS). This collaboration, which was the brainchild of Qian Hui, came about during a South East Asian Directors of Music (SEADOM) conference in Laos last March, where the NLMDS expressed interest in welcoming more visitors to the school. Having enjoyed her experience in Laos immensely, Qian Hui had decided to organise a collaborative project with the Laotian institution. The project eventually joined hands with students from Mahidol College of Music.

The other YST students who participated in the project were Sulwyn Lok (Recording Arts, BMus Year 3), Lee Jia Yi (Composition, BMus Year 3), Jirajet Thawornsiri (Trombone, BMus Year 3), Noah Diggs (Composition, BMus Year 3) and Chaiyaphat Prempree (Percussion, BMus Year 4). 

From left: Jirajet Thawornsiri, Chaiyaphat Prempree, Ho Qian Hui, Lee Jia Yi, Mr Saveng (Co-ordinator from NLDMS), Sulwyn Lok and Noah Diggs

From left: Jirajet Thawornsiri, Chaiyaphat Prempree, Ho Qian Hui, Lee Jia Yi, Mr Saveng (Co-ordinator from NLDMS), Sulwyn Lok and Noah Diggs

Despite some language barriers, the students from the three institutions were eager to learn from one another and work together. The Mahidol students helped greatly with translation (as Lao is similar to Thai). The daily program was varied and intensive as well. “In the mornings, we conducted workshops on different aspects, like rhythm and strings technique, where I taught basic bow hold and vibrato,” Qian Hui says. “It was really encouraging for me to witness the students’ vast improvement over a period of only 4 days. The one regret I had was not being able to learn the traditional Lao instruments due to time constraints. However, I was immensely happy with the end result and I look forward to future collaborations with the National Lao Music and Dance School and other music institutions in Southeast Asia.”
 
Sulwyn also greatly enjoyed his collaborative experience. “I enjoyed the challenging conducting experience: we only had 3 sessions of 2-hour rehearsals to prepare all the pieces for the concert, and a big proportion of the orchestra could not really understand English. The language barrier certainly gave me an intensive practical experience in communicating as a conductor with few words,” he says. “My main priorities were to keep the energy and morale of musicians high, efficiently solve issues in the pieces to ensure everything would fall into place smoothly, and to craft sound interpretations of music of the three countries."

I also consulted helpful Lao teachers to better understand their folk music - especially important for the orchestral adaptation of ‘Tiuy Long Khong’, a traditional folk song which we performed with Laotian instruments like the ‘khene’ and the ‘lanad’.
— Sulwyn Lok, Year 3 Recording Arts and Science Student

"This meant that I had to study the scores well myself and be prepared with a plan before rehearsals. I also consulted helpful Lao teachers to better understand their folk music - especially important for the orchestral adaptation of ‘Tiuy Long Khong’, a traditional folk song which we performed with Laotian instruments like the 'khene' and the 'lanad'. I am really grateful for this opportunity and am deeply heartened by all the wonderful comments from all who watched the concert - may this project herald even more cultural exchanges and regional artistic development to come!”

Students from NLDMS with traditional Lao instruments (image courtesy of the National Lao Dance and Music School)

Students from NLDMS with traditional Lao instruments (image courtesy of the National Lao Dance and Music School)

Qian Hui's collaboration is part of the inaugural ‘South East Asian Group Project’, which is part of a student's professional development path. This is the first time the module was run, paving the way for other students who want to create their own SEA-related projects.