Why is a famous Western vocalist willing to start from scratch to learn how to sing Chinese songs? What are his feelings and experiences in singing these songs? Stephen Mullan is a renowned vocalist. He accidentally discovered a magical phenomenon – Chinese pronunciation is the best way for him to achieve a naturally beautiful resonance in his voice.
Vocalist Stephen Mullan is a talented and well-known singer worldwide. He has been invited to many major performances, such as singing The Messiah at the Pope’s birthday concert in Rome. He was officially nominated as a soloist for the Mahler Philharmonic of Vienna, and has recorded a CD with the MPhil Record Company.
Mr. Mullan said that there was an important reason for his to taking part in the vocal competition organised by NTDTV; he was eager to learn about Chinese culture. As an artist, he believes that it is very important to be able to understand and experience different cultures. He said:
“I had been to Nepal climbing the Himalayan Mountains and travelled to India.”
The competition required every participant to sing one classical Chinese song as well as singing from a classical Western opera repertoire using a Western language, such as Italian or German; this gave Mr. Mullan an excellent opportunity to learn about Chinese culture.
When it comes to the experiences of learning Chinese Mr. Mullan said:
“For Westerners, learning Chinese is really not an easy thing. When you start to face those characters, you feel lost. What I did was to listen to a lot of Chinese songs to understand the messages of the songs and also understand the Chinese ways of expression. When I understand Chinese songs with my heart, I find that learning to sing Chinese songs is not difficult. In addition, Chinese songs are very expressive.”
In talking about a Chinese melody, Mr. Mullan said:
“It is exquisite and elegant. The melodies of Chinese songs are as beautiful as flowers or impressionistic paintings, like water, smooth and natural. When singing Chinese songs, I feel that I am close to the water; I am stretched and relaxed, and ready to enjoy the closeness to nature.”
Look at the world from the perspectives of the Chinese
Mr. Mullan chose a classic Chinese song, I Live in the Head of Yangtze River for the competition. The lyrics are typically the Chinese subtle and restrained way of expressing longing and loyalty to the feeling of love.
He believes that as a Westerner learning about Chinese culture, the most important thing is not to use a Western perspective to view Chinese culture. “You should let go of your own ideas to relearn the ways of the world with the perspectives of the Chinese people.”
Mr. Mullan believes that the meaning of life is not to show how important a person is, but to liberate oneself from one’s earthly bondage and be as free as a bird, flying out of the cage, and gaining true freedom. “Life is like a journey; your soul has been drifting until it finds its real home.” He adds that music is like his life partner, accompanying him to find his real home.