A "Charmant" Chat with Western District


This Friday, Western District will be taking the stage at the Fringe Club Dairy Bar for a performance called Moments Musicaux with Western District. Partnering with the annual celebration of all things Francais, Le French May, Moments Musicaux will be a full review of music from the land of berets and cheese. With Sophia Yan on piano, Monica Johnston on violin/viola, Aniela Emma Chaudhuri on violin and the vocal stylings of Joyce Wah-Sheung Wong, the night will take us through a variety of songs sure to please all.


We had a chance to chat with Monica Johnston and Sophia Yan about the upcoming show. Please enjoy!


Hi, Western District! Congrats on your wonderful show last month. Are you completely exhausted or ready to take on your next adventure?

Monica: Thanks! We had so much fun working on John & Jen, but there's no sitting still for us! We have a series at the Fringe Club Dairy that runs through November, and we're ready for our upcoming performance on Friday, the 27th of May!


Tell us about your next show at the Fringe Club.

Monica and Sophia: Moments Musicaux is on Friday, May 27th at 9:30pm in the Fringe Dairy. We're an Associated Project with Le French May, so we're playing all French music. We're excited to partner with them to present this show! Tickets are 180HKD in advance and 200HKD at the door, and include one drink. 


What inspired you to do a "French themed" lineup?

Monica and Sophia: We've really enjoyed picking themes for our concerts, whether it's country-specific (Russia, Germany), a style of music (tango), or an era in music (contemporary or baroque). We aim to give audiences a sense of how classical music developed in different parts of the world from hundreds of years ago until the present. It's really helped us, as musicians, expand our own view of the variety within classical music! Le French May is such a great series of cultural events here in Hong Kong -- we knew we wanted to be a part of it! 



How has your work evolved over the past few years?

Monica and Sophia: We started Western District with the idea of bringing classical music out of the concert hall -- what we didn't expect was how much fun we'd have! We have found a solid routine -- we pick a theme, and then we start to explore related repertoire. We search for pieces or composers we haven't performed before, and select those that we think fit our sound and character as a group. We also make our own arrangements of pieces.

Monica: I think the biggest change for me is more confidence -- we've shown that small, local performance groups in Hong Kong can indeed be successful.


Western District is known for taking classical musical and giving it a twist for modern audiences... What has been your favorite song you've given the "WD twist?"

Sophia: Our absolute favorite so far is a Baroque fugue version of the Britney Spears song, "Oops, I Did it Again." It's kind of amazing. 

Is there a song you wish you could have redone?

Monica: Thinking back on our past year, I would really love to revisit some of my favorites, like Dimitri Shostakovich's Viola Sonata or Astor Piazzolla's Le Grand Tango. The beauty of live performance is that it's completely in the moment.  I would not "redo" any of our performances, but I would play the pieces again!


Sophia: Same for me! There lots of pieces I'd love to play again. Any of the awesome tango music we performed, and this one solo piece for piano + boombox, by Jacob TV, called Body of Your Dreams. It was an experimental, avant-garde work that used a television commercial for the "Ab Belt" in the music (the "Ab Belt" professed to contract your abs for you and give you a six-pack while you ate and drank anything you wanted, sitting on the couch.) 



Hong Kong people love french everything: poodles, food, champagne. Why do you think Hong Kong audiences are obsessed with France?

Monica: There is a large French population in Hong Kong, and it's hard not to be entranced with the French lifestyle -- good food, good wine, good music!  With an event as big as Le French May featuring France's highlights, it's no wonder Hong Kong loves everything French!


Which classic songs should we expect to hear on the 27th? Any surprises?

Sophia: We've got some Edith Piaf classics, but we won't spoil for you which ones. And yes, lots of surprises. Definitely can't reveal those here -- come have a listen!


Any special details or discounts you want to share with readers?

Monica and Sophia: We are raffling two tickets to the show!  Like our facebook page and you'll be automatically entered! Keep checking our Facebook page -- we'll post the winner on Thursday! 


Moments Musicaux is playing at the Fringe Dairy on May 27th. Tickets are currently available at the Fringe Club box office. For more information, click here.



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