Classic silent Chinese films gain a voice through music
Filmgoers at the Brevard Music Center will have a chance on Thursday to view two classic silent Chinese films from the 1920’s, but they won’t be silent.
Musician and composer Min Xiao-Fen will perform her original works written to accompany the films, “Romance of the Fruit Peddler" and "Romance of the Western Chamber.”
The Smithsonian commissioned Xiao-Fen to create the music that she said “breathes new life” into the films. Xiao-Fen was motivated to give the films a voice, she said, because the original silent films were damaged in the cultural revolution.
A variety of instruments will be used in the performance, but the most notable will be her unique instrument with a long history: the pipa.
“This instrument is a plucked string instrument. It has been played for more than 2,000 years,” she said. “If you think about the shape, it's like a pear shape, or you can say it's like a teardrop.”
The classic silent cinema will also feature master percussionist River Guerguerian playing alongside Fen.
“He understands that the world needs music,” Xiao-Fen said. “When I met him, and we performed together…before the film started, I felt we have a huge chemistry between each other.”
The location of the performance is important to Xiao-Fen, a three-year resident of the region. She said she felt compelled to work with the community.
“Ever since I moved to Asheville, I felt the audience, the people,” she said. “Everything just felt so welcoming and[I] felt so grateful. So many people support me.”
The classic silent cinema takes place Thursday, November 9th at Parker Concert Hall in Brevard.