World Premiere of High Tech, Ancient Chinese Inspired Musical Odyssey Debuts In Pasadena This Weekend
Pasadena’s Civic Auditorium will be the backdrop this weekend for the first stop of a world tour of an ambitious stage production that explores ancient Chinese culture through mesmerizing high-tech visuals, world class musicians and sensory overloading performances.
“Memory 5d+” intends to project new perspectives of Chinese culture that have remained widely unexperienced. The immersive show will feature virtuoso performances on rare instruments set against a backdrop of real, virtual and projected images and action to evoke China’s unique cultural heritage.
The world premiere of “Memory 5d+” takes the stage for a two nights only, beginning Friday.
“Memory 5D+ is not just a concert of accomplished and moving musical performances from traditional Chinese musical arts, but an engrossing and enveloping entertainment that speaks about all of Chinese culture and philosophy from the past, and with great relevancy looks ahead to the future,” said the Founder and General Director of China Film HuaTeng, Ulan Xuerong, who produced “Memory 5d+”.
The title Memory 5D+ refers to the expansive collective “memory” of Chinese performing arts of the past, and the contributions those have made to Chinese culture.
The ambitious $4 million production is a collaborative effort between renowned Hollywood visual effects and set design experts.
“It wasn’t about creating a story from scratch, but it was more about making the story accessible to a Western audience,” said Hughes about the concept behind creating the scenario for the show. Hughes is a visual effects artists whose work has also been seen in “Frozen” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”
The high tech backdrop was designed by Tom E. Marzullo, a notable creative designer who designs large scale productions for acts such as Justin Bieber, KISS and Prince.
“Memory 5D+” frames a story, against the background of the creation of the universe, of how the forces of darkness and light learned to become one. Yin (darkness) and Yang (light) have travelled through time and space, flying across the mountains and rivers to arrive at an ancient and mysterious Orient. They abound in the forest, and later encounter a variety of magical and beautiful birds. Symbolic bamboo leaves and birds’ feathers dance in the wind and fall to the ground. Everything strikes the world as new and beautiful, and they are innocent of what is ahead of them, according to a press release.
“The music of Memory 5D+ brings Chinese traditions and an international audiences together in an entirely new way. While our musicians are the highest level practitioners of Chinese traditional music, the sounds they make have a unique intensity and virtuosity that will at once make China’s musical heritage immediate and accessible,” said Xuerong who assembled an impressive roster of honored musicians, who perform pieces from the entire repertoire of Chinese music.
Musicians can be heard playing rare instruments that include guqin (Chinese zither), “cowboy” flute, gijak, guzheng, konghou (Chinese harp), morin khuur (Mongolian horsehead fiddle), pipa (Chinese lute), Tuva drum (Shamanic drum), and two chordophones – Topshur and Yekele.
“Memory 5D+” also uses many Chinese performance arts including Chinese acrobatics, Dolan Muqam, Khoomei (Tuvan throat singing), Shadow Play, Suzhou Pingtan (storytelling and ballad singing from the Suzhou Dialect), Tibetan folk songs, and Urtin Duu (Mongolian Long Tune).
“In Memory 5D+,” Hughes said, “the intangible nature of Chinese spirit becomes tangible and poignant. Philosophies, characterized in the music, are those that most Westerners know from Taoist thought including concepts of Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, Chinese Medicine, Astronomy and Tai Chi. These have long guided millions of people and through performance, music can bring about a communication of the soul in a joyful and harmonious way.”
For Memory 5D+, Hughes dramatized a danced scenario backed by celebrated traditional Chinese music. The story captures the essential essence of Taoist thought: that Tao is a oneness. The Tao contains two component forces known as Yin and Yang that have starkly contrasting qualities.
“When it comes to visuals you try to forge an identity along with trying to find something that chimes with the story. I wanted to find something that was tonal because it’s represented in the story, but I also tried to find some imagery that will resonate and stand out with the crowd,” explained Hughes.
Stage designer Marzullo and his team designed a multi-dimensional immersive journey for “Memory 5D+” that state of the art concert production techniques that include high definition digital video and lighting, 7.1 surround sound, lasers and aromatic sensory technology.
“They’re done in a way that’s layered to give it a sense of depth,” said Hughes. “We went with quite bold, stark, contrasted black and bold imagery,” he explained.
According to Hughes, the show’s creator plans to take the show across the globe.
“This is a chance to look at art forms that we don’t normally get to see over here. I hope people come away from it knowing that there is more that they can explore,” said Hughes.
“Memory 5D+: An Immersive Musical Odyssey to a Distant Past” will premiere Friday and Saturday at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium located at 300 E Green St.
Showtime begins at 8 p.m. and ticket prices range from $38.00 to $128.00.
To purchase tickets, go to Memory5D.com or call the Ticketmaster Arts Line at (800) 982-2787.