Singapore Arts Festival 2003 Presents Mark Chan and musicians (Singapore/Hong Kong)


Mark Chan and musicians (Singapore/Hong Kong)


Little Toys: Chinese Film Classic 


With Live Music


 Date:  13 & 14 June 
 Time:  8 pm
 Venue:  Esplanade Theatre
 Tickets:  $52, $42, $32, $22, $16
 Duration:  100 minutes (no intermission)


Co-commissioned and co-produced with the Hong Kong Arts Festival


“Mark’s music fuses a variety of influences into one brilliant and expressive voice, rich with lyrical beauty.” ~ David Hwang, playwright


Watch a silent Chinese classic film made 70 years ago as it gets a new breath of life with live music composed by Singapore composer and musician Mark Chan.  Using a combination of Chinese and Western instruments, Chan effectively captures the romantic yet turbulent times of Shanghai in the 1930s portrayed in the silent Chinese classic film, Little Toys, with a well-crafted soundtrack.


Little Toys, or Xiao Wan Yi is a masterpiece of renowned director Sun Yu, one of the great masters of Chinese cinema in the silent era.  It stars the 1930s legendary screen diva Ruan Lingyu who plays the lead role of the toy maker, Sister Ye.  Little Toys tells the happy, sometimes poignant, yet tragic story of Sister Ye who is eventually driven to insanity as she loses her dreams and family one by one when war descends upon China.


Chan finally selected Little Toys to after watching 15 full length silent films and brought together seven renowned musicians from Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore to bring his composition to life.  The musicians are Hong Kong’s erhu master Wong On Yuen, Beijing’s guanzi player Guo Yazhi, Singapore’s cellist Leslie Tan of T’ang Quartet, erhu player Sunny Wong Sun-tat, pipa player Yu Jia of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, percussionist Margie Tong and pianist Belinda Foo.  Mark will provide vocals and play the keyboards and wind instruments.


Despite having selected what he himself admitted as “the hardest one to set to music”, Chan eventually completed a soundtrack that was not only true to the period of the film and its moments, which ranged from the pleasant and tranquil to dramatic, tragic and painful, but could also stand alone as a piece of music.  The performance, a joint commission by the 2003 Hong Kong and Singapore Arts Festivals, premiered at the Hong Kong Arts Festival in February to a standing ovation and 5 curtain calls.


Chan’s track record in composing pop songs and scoring theatre productions has made him one of the most accomplished composers in Singapore.  Trained in Chinese flutes (dizi & xiao), erhu and guzheng as well as Western counter-tenor, Mark’s music is very much an amalgam of all the various influences that make up his world, just as Little Toys had so fluently portrayed the impact of various foreign influences on China.


Please refer to attached annexes for more information:

  • Annex 1 – Little Toys Cast and Musicians List
  • Annex 2 – Profile of Cast of Little Toys
  • Annex 3 – Profile of Mark Chan and musicians