Raising the tone of tradition

| Siu Sai-wo 25 Jun 2019

Renowned father-and-son erhu duo Wang Guotong and Ray Wong’s images were wrongfully used on a concert promotion poster. That emerged in a court hearing with the person responsible pleading guilty.

While talking to Wong about last week’s case I learned that his father, who is past 80, is still going strong – literally, as he travels to perform in various places, including the mainland recently.

Sharing his maestro father’s passion, Wong has been promoting “city erhu” in recent years, injecting new elements into erhu music to raise the interest of the younger generation in the traditional instrument.

Wong laughs in observing that what seems to be a majority of young people are fond of music that is dynamic and emotive, saying that perhaps interest in erhu only comes with age.

What he hopes to do is to enhance the erhu’s contemporary feel by adding modern city elements. So apart from classic numbers, fans can also hear him play new works.

Wong’s effort to promote erhu music strikes a chord in Japan. Erhu music has a huge following in the mainland, he says, but Japanese also love it.

Wong was interviewed recently by Japanese media on his new style, and Wong found himself facing a reporter with an in-depth understanding of the subject. This impressed him deeply as it showed the seriousness with which the Japanese approach their work.

As a second-generation master, Wong enjoys interacting with a range of musicians. He collaborated with guzheng player Wu Fang in a music album, and published a CD with singer Christopher Wong Hoi-kan, a Hongkonger who now lives in Canada.

He also appeared at a TVB fund-raising gala last week, taking his new-style music to a wider audience. Clearly, apart from musical talent Wong has inherited from his father genes of a vibrant character.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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