Farewell at the WIllow Pavilion

Liang Zhaoming & Angela Keung

This song depicts a moving farewell scene between Lin Chong (Lam Chung林冲) and his wife Virtue at the “willow pavilion”. Lam Chung is one of the 108 heroes from the world famous novel Water Margin.

A great general and trainer for the imperial soldiers, Lam Chung unfortunately is framed by a corrupt senior official’s son who wants to marry Lam’s wife. The false allegation results in a life sentence to be served in exile by Lam. Knowing that his virtuous wife would rather die than violate their sacred marriage vow, Lam has prepared a letter of dismissal to set Virtue free from their marriage and begs her to accept it so that she can marry another man who can protect her from his wicked enemy. Virtue turns the dismissal letter into a pledge of love, stating that they will be a couple forever whether they will survive this separation or not.

Those who are familiar with naam yum (southern sound) will note a prelude with 10 “bans”, one of the unique characteristics of naam yum. Usually the prelude is just played without words, but the composer has added lyrics to this prelude to tighten up the tempo & mood of the song. The regular naam yum segment is followed by naam yum at “water flow” tempo to give the audience the background story and the couple’s feelings, before General Lam presents his letter of dismissal which brings out the conflicted and rich emotions of their deeply-rooted love and the great sorrows at this last farewell.
Wong Chiu-Kwan |
  王超群, M.H.

In the mid-1960s, Wong Chiu-Kwan learned the art of acting from Master Tam San-San, who excelled in playing the role of the female lead in Cantonese opera. She studied “cheung hong” from Master Lau Wing-Chuen. In the 1980s she performed throughout South East Asia, and became a leading female artist in Cantonese opera after she returned to Hong Kong in the nineties. She is famous for playing female military roles, especially as the general on bound feet. Over the years she has partnered with many leading male artists, including Man Chi- Sui, Yuen Siu-Fai, Lo Ka-Ying, Ng Chin-Fung, Lung Kwun-Tin, Lee Lung, among others in forming various Cantonese Opera Troupes.

Apart from being famous for her mastery of the art of performing on bound feet, she is also recognized for her contributions in promoting Cantonese opera education and community work. In 2010 she was honoured as The Artist of the Year (Opera) by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, and awarded a certificate by the Home Affairs Bureau; in 2018 she was appointed as the Artistic Director of the Cantonese Opera Rookies’ Performance Series hosted by the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong.

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