Five minutes with Ng Chor Guan
Music lovers who attended Scale’s ‘Game Face’ at PJLA on June 3 would remember the sight of Ng Chor Guan making music with his beloved bicycle and interacting with the audience during his mobile phone orchestra. The music composer and sound designer, whose works have been presented at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen in Germany and Sydney Fashion Week, talks to Wong Boon Ken about his mobile phone orchestra, the Theremin and what’s on the horizon for the avid cyclist.
How did you get the idea behind the mobile phone orchestra?
The mobile phone orchestra was an idea I created a few years back. It involves music playing from audiences on their mobile phones, and audience participation contributes to the success of this idea. The conventional performer-audience relationship can be rigid at times, so that's part of the reason I decided to have all audience members participate in music-making. Since mobile phones are such a handy device, there’s no doubt it's the best choice to use as a 'musical instrument' everyone can play.
How would you describe your music?
I'm a classically-trained music composer always in search of new sound and any possibilities in composing contemporary music. Conceptual, experimental and avant-garde are probably the best ways to describe my compositional style.
I hear that you're a Theremin player. That instrument is relatively obscure, and I only learnt about it from an episode of 'The Big Bang Theory'. Why did you pick up the Theremin?
I started playing the Theremin when I decided to create my own concert entitled 'Space Age' a few years back. It was a music concert collaboration with visual creation. The idea of this concert was to transform the performance space into a space ship, bringing audiences to a journey through space. There, I realised the Theremin was the best instrument to represent that era and also the best instrument to translate the atmosphere.
What other instruments do you play?
I'm a music composer who has the ability to compose with all kinds of musical instruments. Nowadays I mainly perform on the Theremin if I appear onstage. Electronic organ was my major musical instrument during my diploma course and also the French horn.
What is your next big project?
I've started my own music studio named Toccata Studio at SS2, PJ recently. Basically, it’s a hub for the arts and a platform for art practitioners of all kinds to meet and present their works. Coming up, I’ve been invited to bring the mobile phone orchestra to Korea for the opening ceremony of the United Nations Regional Confederation of Education. Also, I’ll be collaborating with a dance production in Hong Kong and a live cinema performance in the USA.
Check out www.myspace.com/guanoriginalmusic for more information about Chor Guan.