MOFA concert tour promotes cultural exchanges with SE Asia

The first leg of a concert tour co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to foster cultural exchanges with Southeast Asia wrapped up June 20 in Singapore, with award-winning Taiwan group Judy's Harmonica Ensemble wowing audience members by performing renditions of folk songs, cinematic scores and original works.

Attended by some 150 invited guests and members of the public, the show featured arrangements of such diverse pieces as Flowers in the Rainy Night by Taiwan musician Teng Yu-hsien; Playing Love by Italian composer Ennio Morricone; Pirates of the Caribbean by German film score maestro Hans Zimmer; and Jounetsu Tairiku by Japanese violinist and composer Taro Hakase.

Singapore was the group's first stop on a three-nation tour staged as part of cultural exchange initiatives under the Republic of China (Taiwan) government's New Southbound Policy. The ensemble will also perform in Vietnam July 26-28 and the Philippines Sept. 29 to Oct. 1.

A key plank of President Tsai Ing-wen's national development strategy, the peoplecentric policy seeks to deepen the nation's agricultural, business, cultural, education, tourism and trade ties with Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.

According to the MOFA, Judy's Harmonica Ensemble is well-suited to showcasing Taiwan's cultural creativity owing to its diverse repertoire, exceptional musical skills and vast experience performing for audiences around the world.

The five-piece outfit was a triple-crown winner at the 2004 edition of the biennial Asia-Pacific Harmonica Festival, one of the largest harmonica events in the world, as well as victors in the APHF ensemble category for three consecutive events from 2002 to 2006. In 2013, the group also claimed the title of best trio at the World Harmonica Festival in Germany.

The ensemble's performances in Vietnam and the Philippines later this year will be held at the Taiwan Expo 2017 trade shows in those nations. Organized by the government-supported Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), the fairs will highlight innovative Taiwan products and services in such fields as cosmetics and personal care, food and beverages, and information and communication technology.

Organizers also plan to introduce an augmented reality smartphone application for the upcoming concerts that will enable audience members to see Taiwan landscapes behind the group when viewing the musicians through their smartphones. The concert tour is expected to draw a total of 10,000 people in the two Southeast Asian nations, the MOFA stated.

Source: Taiwan Today