Journey east from the Asian mainland and you arrive on the island of Taiwan, a destination of stunning geographical diversity despite its dense population.
It takes just eight hours to drive around the whole island, taking in landscapes as diverse as tropical rainforests, sea cliffs and mountainous hiking trails. Some 50% of the island is covered in rainforest, with 90% of the country’s 23 million inhabitants living in cities along the coast. Wei-Chieh Lin’s 2017 Taiwanese Folk Songs for string quartet “represent the essence of Taiwanese culture and the way of life throughout the tumultuous history of Taiwan.” Though each song has a composer, the words and tunes have become a part of the collective Taiwanese consciousness, to which Lin’s settings pay tribute.
Though many Taiwanese are not religious, the island is home to almost 15,000 temples. From palatial buildings with gated gardens to tiny retreats perched on the mountainside, the eye-catching temples are a fascinating insight into the country’s culture and customs. Ma Shui-Long has been an exponent of Taiwanese music since the 1960s, and was the first Taiwanese composer to have his work presented at the Lincoln Centre in the US. His Bamboo Flute Concerto blends elements of Eastern and Western musical cultures to create a virtuosic showpiece.