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LDTD splinters review

March 5, 2013, – Alex, splinters & candy

The Vancouver-based Orchid Ensemble expand the possibilities for traditional Chinese instruments and small chamber-style groups. The trio incorporates vocals, erhu (two-stringed fiddle), zheng (zither with moveable bridges), marimba and percussion into their moving performances which often include multimedia displays, dance and scenographic installation. Lan Tung, the founder of the group, is a fine singer, a virtuoso onerhu and an accomplished composer. She is joined by Haiqiong Deng on zheng and Jonathan Bernard on marimba and percussion. Together, Orchid Ensemble draw inspiration from Hebrew, Spanish, British and Chinese texts. The poetry and words encourage the band to lose their inhibitions and dive straight into the music.

“Many of the pieces we wanted to include on the album included or were inspired by poetry, but stylistically were wildly diverse. As the process evolved, we felt liberated from a musically-defined theme and found cohesion through the world of poetics, which we feel allows for realms beyond rational or logic, beyond earthly constraints.” – Jonathan Bernard 

Orchid Ensemble’s adventurous approach shines on their most recent release, Life Death Tears Dream. Each composition is striking and unique, revealing the musicianship of each performer. The group’s dynamic repertoire is impressive, ranging from the contemporary to the ancient. The tempo and structure of a piece can change instantly, engaging the listener completely. The melodies and harmonies are so intricate you’ll want to devote your full attention to these songs. Orchid Ensemble hopes to educate listeners with their distinctive repertoire. There is a story behind every piece and discovering the history is part of appreciating the music.

“When we present listeners or collaborators with a piece of music and its background, we like to assume that they will go deeper and study where the music is coming from, that they will be moved and intrigued by the context. The music itself is simultaneously a beginning and an end point. We always invite people to go deeper.” – Jonathan Bernard