2016 Vocal Asia Festival in Taitung: Blending Old and New in Innovation
The 2016 Vocal Asia Festival (VAF), Asia’s largest a cappella event, was held in Taitung from 17 to 20 August. Organized by Vocal Asia, the four-day festival welcomed 15 a cappella groups from Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Philippines, China, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. Performances and activities include the Sound of Asia Concert, Taitung Aca Day, Asian Cup A Cappella Competition, as well as the Sound of Taitung Concert which was a special feature with innovative rendition of traditional indigenous Taiwan music blended with modern a cappella influences. The event showcased the best of Taiwan’s voices, and was a step forward for the island’s indigenous music being recognized internationally.
The Sound of Taitung Concert was highly anticipated. Taitung as a locale of origin for the Austronesian community sees a third of its population bearing indigenous heritage. The history and shared memories of this place in the form of voices and dances have been passed down without the written word since thousands of years ago. Performing groups from Asia and beyond were deeply touched during the concert. The Acapellago, a Filipino group, improvised its own rendition of the Rukai tribe’s Song of Happiness, and are hoping to share the song with audiences at home.
The highlight of the Sound of Taitung Concert featured Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw leading the entire concert hall in an indigenous call and response singing. From the Katatipul Village of the Zhiben region, Sangpuy of the Puyuma tribe, persists in creating indigenous language songs, ensuring the continuity of traditional indigenous music. He sang the Taitung Malan Amis Naval Ship Song, Puyuma Song of Life, and Mother’s Eyes, before the Voco Novo and Gili groups from Taiwan joined him in a new rendition of Dalan Road, arranged by Voco Novo’s leader Christine Liu, who retained its original essence through an a cappella segment, highlighting Sangpuy’s rich voice complemented by two voices in harmony. From the re-adaptation of the Millet Pounding Song and the Orchid Island Love Song of the Tao tribe into a medley, to the rearrangement of Dalan Road, Liu is skilled at adapting songs with cultural meanings into a cappella.
As part of 2016 VAF and in collaboration with Harvest 365, a student competition – the Taitung Cup A Cappella Competition was held to encourage student a cappella exchange and learning. Junyi Experimental High School sent two teams to the Taitung Cup – Semenay and BTC, entering in the middle and high school categories; the latter won the middle school category. Instructor Wang Yuling said that she was impressed by the students’ commitment to the practice, especially with some living in remote areas and making long commutes. Their passion for a cappella is apparent through their weekly attendance since February. The instructor was also heartened to see the students showing focus and teamwork.
Claire Chen, Chairman of Vocal Asia, introduced a cappella to Taiwan in 2000 and set up Vocal Asia in 2010. Since 2011, the VAF has been held in Taipei, Shenzhen, Taoyuan, South Korea, Guangzhou before arriving at the shores of Taiwan’s most beautiful and melodious East Coast. Her hopes of the VAF in letting the world to see and hear the beauty of Taiwan have truly been realized here in Taitung. The Taitung Aca Day saw performing groups share music with Taitung locals and tourists. Vibrant sights and sounds filled the summer air with various VAF activities at the Taitung Art and Cultural Center, the Flowing Lake of Taitung Forest Park, Tiehua Music Village and Taitung Aboriginal Culture Hotel Square.
The VAF 2016 had brought Taitung onto an international platform, besides wowing audiences and promoting a cappella in Taitung. Taitung County Magistrate Huang Jian-ting hopes to see the continued international exchanges and collaboration, propelling Taitung as a world cappella destination.
2016 Vocal Asia Festival
2016 Vocal Asia Festival