Between countries

Nov 04 2014 Sophie Tessier

_DSC4052-nef_1000px(R)_webOptimInterview with Tiemo Wang, baritone who felt in love with the violin at 6, decided to sing at 30 and began to understand his Chinese grandfather’s journey a few months ago, thanks to Daral Shaga.


How did you decide to become a singer?

I started as a violinist. I had never sung, I had never listened to singers, only violin, it was the one thing I really loved the most. I remember, as a child, I didn’t like singing, because it sounds like shouting, like crying, isn’t it? It’s a bit weird; it’s loud, emotional, touching. Maybe for children it’s too much because there is so much emotion. Instruments are more abstract. When I was 4, I wanted to play the violin, it was my big thing, my big love! When I was 6 years old, I got a violin and I took lessons.


Do you know why?

Not really. My parents used to listen to a lot of classical music. And I remember hearing violin sounds, and I fell in love! It hit me so much. I felt this thing in my stomach when I heard violin, it was physical. I had to do it. I had to wait 2 years to have my violin, and I studied for years. I went to the conservatory and I worked as a violinist during 10 years, in orchestras. I also played in an orchestra where I accompanied singers, the choirs and the religious music. I did a lot of Bach (St Matthew’s passion & St John’s passion). One day, I was singing in the bathroom and my girlfriend said “you’re good, you should sing”. So I took private lessons, it went very quickly thanks to the education with violin, the quality was already there. I mostly had to develop the voice. I sing for ten years now.

It was sure that I would be a musician. I studied History when I went to the conservatory, but after 2 years it was too difficult to combine. When you play the violin, you have to practice 6, 7 hours a day.


How did you meet Silbersee and Romain Bischoff?

I was doing a concert of modern music, and a guy told me “you should go to Romain Bischoff, you’re good, your hearing is well developed” (because I played the violin). I did an audition and since then, I have been working there. At the beginning, we had a lot of workshops, master classes and lessons. I learnt a lot. I combined violin with singing for years and then singing became more. I still sometimes do both, I did a solo program last year.

For me it is a quite logical step further in the development of musicality, because, when you play the violin you can hide. Here, it is very personal. Singing after violin was the logical step: being more present myself on stage and not hiding, to communicate with the audience. Most of violinists don’t watch the audience. Here, you are giving more, sharing more, you want to reach the audience.


How did you react when Romain first told you about Daral Shaga?

I am always enthusiastic about what Vocaal Lab organise, I like to mix things, different “metiers”. Last year, we had this dance performance and we liked it because it is good to combine all the different strengths of the arts. Here I imagined it could be fantastic, with acrobats, it is nice to see new things.


How was the creation? How did it go?

I like the show a lot. Images are really strong, maybe it is a pity that we don’t do so much acrobatics, it is still separated.

What I liked with Fabrice, from the beginning on, he had these clear ideas of images, so you can count on it. I like the way he works, he is calm but he knows, he has things in mind.

It’s a nice cooperation! In Holland, the difference is that things go more quickly in taking decision. It is maybe a Belgian atmosphere, people go around the problem! I like how things went, also with Kris. The music is really nice, attractive, it is strong and helping the scenes. Modern music is sometimes hugly. Here, it is beautiful and tells the story.


And about the theme, about immigration, do you have something to say?

My grandfather came from China, he left his first wife and his son and he came to Europe in 1933. We have never known why. He was always kind of complaining about Holland, and, when he came back to China in the 50’s once, he didn’t like it anymore. He was between countries. I like my role in Daral Shaga actually, it makes me understand things about him. It stroke me that I hadn’t thought about it before. He couldn’t found his peace. He didn’t belong to any country anymore, he was lost somewhere in the middle. I have been thinking about my grandfather a lot. The role fits me, it was good to think about this family thing again. It helped me in a way. It was a strange coincidence. A lot of emigrants have this problem, you have to leave your country, you don’t feel at home when you go back, it is too different or too poor, you always feel a bit in between.

So I’m not only Dutch. I don’t feel completely Dutch but I don’t know what it is. When I was a kid, I was proud of it because I had something special.


© Photo Hubert Amiel

This post is also available in: French