Sound was the thread that connected The Red Room Aside 8, and the voices, the melodies, the tunes would carry us through time, space and individual experiences to a place we call creativity.
Our well-travelled troubadour, Rose Goossen, was the first to take the stage with her inamorata Madame La guitar. As soon as she started playing, her mellow tunes and vocals led my heart to sway. Between songs, she told us how she encountered her guitar and how they began their journey together across many countries, including a song-writing session as the sun rises on the Egyptian horizon. These stories of her musical inspirations made her performance all the more intriguing.
Later, the Red Room Muse Tina Ma gave us a fascinating glimpses of a bygone era in Taiwan and Chinese history with the compelling melodies of the moon guitar. I was put under a trance by words that I have heard of but couldn’t comprehended. Tina’s music presented itself as a form of language that spoke of a time in history that was re-lived as she unlocked our ears and our hearts. Her masterful command of traditional art and her wisdom left the room in awe.
Our bard David Gentile sat on the stage holding a mug of wine, his words and his philosophy flowing uninterrupted with his rhymes and his poetic meters. The spontaneity of David’s performance eased away the intimidating reputation poetry has had, and once again recaptured the musicality of language for his audience.
Another spectacular performance of storytelling was when Radio Redux brought the Mad Hatters Tea Party to life. I was hesitant at first to see how a simple voice reading could do justice to one of the most iconic scenes in Alice in Wonderland. But the rise and fall of the actor’s tones, in particular the curiosity and wonder of Alice, the fascinating absurdity of the Hatter and the sweet slumbering whisper of the dormouse had me edging closer and closer to the stage. Along with the clattering of plates and the clunking teacups set on saucers, it was a dramatic feast of sounds.
We return to more melodies.
Our Irish soul Dan O’Shea struck our hearts with the melancholy and beauty of a confessional song titled Nasty Little Heart. The song moved us not only with its honesty but also left us feeling exposed with our own selfishness and imperfections. For me, it is precisely this vulnerability and struggle that makes us human, and in those moments when we come face to face with our undisguised weaknesses, we see ourselves for who we are.
We also had a surprise guest Sophie Chen. It was the first time I ever saw a performer singing and clicking on her Apple Mac like it was a musical instrument. Nonetheless, we loved this experimental form of sound mix. Her voice was incredibly powerful and made the perfect act to close the evening.
Like all Redroom events, Aside 8 was about opening our hearts to listen. And thanks to all the performers who poured out their hearts to us, what reverberated in the room that night was something called magic.