REVIEW: Silk String Trio at the Apex, May 25

Silk String Trio performed at The Apex on Thursday (May 25) as part of the 2017 Bury St Edmunds Festivval programme
Silk String Trio performed at The Apex on Thursday (May 25) as part of the 2017 Bury St Edmunds Festivval programme

This year’s Bury St Edmunds Festival has once again invited ‘creative critics’ to review a number of performances.

In an effort to encourage youngsters to engage with art and celebrate their voices, the festival has partnered with several schools to capture the experiences of their Year 5 pupils in writing. Below are a selection of reviews of the Silk String Trio’s show at The Apex on Thursday by students at Glade Primary in Brandon and Woolpit Primary Academy.

This exquisite performance was a traditional Chinese tune played on the pipa (pronounced pee-pa), the zither and the erhu. The pieces illuminated The Apex hall like a sparkling, flowing river streaming across the countryside. The leader of the group (Cheng Yu) played a beautiful solo piece on the wonderful guitar-like pipa after playing an even prettier piece (with Sun Zhuo on the zither and Wang Xiao on the erhu) called threes and sixes. Sun Zhuo’s instrument was so pretty and she moved her arms like ocean waves lapping at the shore. It was weird how the tunes were based on the five elements fire, water, air, earth and metal. It was a fabulous experience for all and I would recommend it 100 per cent.

By Woolpit pupil Tom Davey, aged nine

There were three women playing Chinese instruments, one of the instruments was called Chinese fiddle: It had two strings like a violin, but played vertically. The other two were the Chinese harp and Chinese flute. The Chinese harp has 21 strings and 21 bridges whilst the Chinese flute has four strings and is played with false nails. The music made me think of Chinese food and Chinese New Year. The music was really unusual and exciting because you rarely hear that style of music live. They played in groups of trio, duo and solo. I didn’t like Chinese music before the show but after I was humming the tune constantly. I really concentrated on how they were immersing themselves in the music; their eyes would rarely come off the instrument. I also realised that at some points they wouldn’t even look at their sheet of paper with the notes on it. In my opinion, I would go back any day because for me it was an amazing and unusual experience that has opened my eyes to a new genre of music. What I did not like about the performance was that they kept leaving the stage and coming back on to it so it was hard to tell if they had finished so we kept applauding them many times. The lighting on the top of the stage really helped to see what they were doing. All of the performances were very similar, every time it would have the same tune to it but apart from that it was absolutely amazing. It also reminded me of karate and martial arts because of their clothes and martial arts are normally from China.

By Glade pupil Oliver Adams

The Silk String Trio is very unique and I never knew Chinese music was so fast! When the musicians were going really fast it engaged the audience and it was fascinating to watch. All the instruments were exceptional and made incredible sounds and the instruments made very elegant sounds too. Chinese music is actually very interesting to listen to. The trio must have had to practice lots of times to produce a performance like no other and perform the way they did. They have performed around Europe as well as London’s Southbank and Royal Opera House and have collaborated with Lang Lang and others.

By Woolpit pupil Ella Mayhew, aged 10

The Silk String Trio were amazing. I was so excited that I could run around the room 23 times and not be tired. They were good but I think it would be better if we could dance. There were three instruments named the pipa Lute, the virtuosic erhu fiddle and the Guzheng zither. When they played all the instruments together it sounded slightly Scottish. The clothing they wore was beautiful and very stylish; the clothing had extraordinary patterns and designs. The instruments they played were about 400 years old. The music was outstanding. Each time they had finished a song they took a break which helped because I needed to get comfortable. The Chinese harp had 21 strings and 21 bridges; it is played horizontally. It’s supported by two stands and the sounds represent Chinese thinking. It sounds magical and makes me feel protected from anything bad. The Chinese fiddle has two strings and is played vertically with the bow between the stings. To alter the pitch you need to extend or shorten the strings. The Chinese lute has four strings and you play it with artificial nails. Its history dates back 2,000 years. It was developed from the Middle Eastern Lute in about the third century. It can play up to a three and a half octave range. The music started off calm and gradually grew tension each time. There were solo and trio performances but mainly trio performances and there was one performance as a duet. They used their fingers in different speeds. The different songs they played sounded quite similar but someone said the different songs spoke different words. When I heard the music, in my head I pictured Kung Fu Panda and Cars. The reason I thought of this is because the music sounded like the background music in both movies. In my head (while the trio was playing) I heard swords crashing in a battle; water cascading nearby; horses galloping across the meadows and choirs singing at a door step. I felt free, alive and calm. I felt these because of the different tempos and speeds. Some of the words I thought of were ‘creative, nonsense and dreamy’ because I was comfortable and because I’m weird. Out of 10 I would rate this nine. If I had the chance I would absolutely, positively go again.

By Glade pupil Kia-Rose Bingham

Although this music is very traditionally oriental in style, today’s concert goers gather from all over the world to see Chinese music being played. This is because it is different to what we’re used to. On May 25, Cheng Yu’s Silk String Trio amazed us with their talent for music, in fact it was so good I would give them a 10 out of 10! Cheng Yu leads on the pipa lute, with Sun Zhuo playing the guzheng zither and Wang Xiao on the erhu. My favourite song was called Flowing River, it was a solo song played by Sun Zhuo on the guzheng zither – I loved it. It sounded like a beautiful summer’s day, when the bees were buzzing and the birds were tweeting, it was wonderful. Once again I’ll say it was brilliant, I give it a fabulous 10 out of 10!

By Woolpit pupil Joel Casey, aged 10

We went to see three Chinese ladies play a Chinese fiddle, a Chinese harp and a Chinese lute. We were there for one whole hour but to me it felt like five minutes. I thought it was really fun and attention seeking. The Chinese fiddle sounded a bit like an opera lady singing. The lady playing the Chinese harp had sharp black things stuck with sticky tape on her fingers to pluck the Chinese harp. I loved it when the Chinese fiddle got plucked it sounded like a guitar but add a bit of violin. I loved it so much fun I would pay £22 to go again. It was amazing! It made me feel like I was a musician myself. It was as nice as summer and summer is lovely. The music reminded me of blossom trees because to me China is all about the blossom. I loved it when the three ladies went off stage and played solo, duets and trios. There wasn’t a lot of audience but I would say 50 out of 100 so it wasn’t that bad. The ladies all played their instruments as fast as lighting! There was a little bit of different volume and tempo but it was mostly the same. I was tapping my foot to the beat, it was like I was actually in the music. It was very different but the ladies dresses were beautiful. The instruments were very unexpected, the ladies played soft and loud. To me it was 100 out of 100. I can’t think of one thing the ladies could improve.

By Glade pupil Lillie Stokoe