Formosa Singers in Taipei National Concert Hall with conductor Thomas Caplin. Photo credit Formosa Singers.
Formosa Singers, founded in 1994 by Julian Ching-Chun Su, has become one of the best choir groups in Taiwan. Formosa means beautiful and is the name Portuguese sailors gave the island in 1542 and made it known in the western world. The choir´s dedication is enriching Taiwanese songs, but also exploring diverse music styles as Knut Nystedt’s songs “Peace I Leave with You” and “The Lamentations of Jeremiah”.
For 12 years, Formosa Singers has organized a choir camp called Taiwan Youth Choir Festival. It is for children and students to learn Taiwanese songs and also music from different countries. In 2012 and 2017, Thomas Caplin from Hamar, Norway, was invited as renowned international musician to joint. He is Professor at Hedmark University College and specializes in the cross field between classical and rhythmical singing and conducting, winning numerous international choir competitions with different vocal groups and choirs. Here is a sound record from the festival in 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofext276s0Q and recordings from 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DFxEXU8dws, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY92Y8Zp9vk
In 2012 he started Defrost Youth Choir. He is also a leader of and a singing member of the vocal group Nordic Blue. In July, he will together with more than 300 choirs participate in World Choir Games in South Africa with Defrost Youth Choir.
After his trip to Taiwan in 2012, he started taking lessons in Mandarin Chinese by a Taiwanese teacher.
In 2016 he took his youth choir on an Asia tour with about 24 choir members, the board and some parents. The trip went to Taiwan (Taipei and Tainan) and Korea. One of their songs was in Paiwanese, one of the languages of the Polynesian indigenous people of Taiwan. My wife, also a singer, attended the concert and said the conductor was great in getting the best out of each singer.
– Well, that’s not so hard, Thomas Caplin replied. – Because they bring out the best in me… and that’s how humanity works…we can choose to bring out the best in ourselves or the less good… being here with these great people definitely makes me a better person .
Parts of the 2016 concert in Taipei National Concert Hall are recorded on YouTube: Bruremarsj by Jan Magne Førde https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S70R-rZ2f4U Du ser meg i auga – T. Eliassen/Th. Caplin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pWitdz77ac, Defrost Mashup – Run to you – I’m yours https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy6dwn4Rcss
This year Caplin had three master´s workshop in Taiwan with focus on learning how to conduct the person behind the voice.
Just two days before the Norwegian National Day he conducted Formosa Singers in the main hall of National Concert Hall in Taipei (top photo) with Julian Ching-Chun Su as art director and Yu-Shan Tsai at the piano.
– Before the concert, Thomas Caplin wrote on facebook, there were two ladies looking at this poster in the lobby, so I went up next to them also looking. Then the younger looked up and said – “Oh! It’s you!!” She and her mother agreed that in reality I could be the son of that man in on the poster. So I said “Thank you….” what lovely women… :). Photo credit Thomas Caplin.
On the program this year were songs in at least 6 languages in different styles from classical religious to folk music and modern romance, including composers from Norway: Knut Nystedt, Thoams Caplin and Ola Gjeilo. Thomas is born in Sweden and added some Swedish composers; David Wikander, Gunnar Hahn and poet Carl David af Wirsén. Even three songs were Taiwanese.
– What a success this has been – and a formidable performance. Love! The Formosa Singers – always in my heart!! At least 1300 in the audience, Thomas Caplin said. The long and enthusiastic applause showed that the audience was thrilled too.
Recordings (2018) from Formosa Singers with Thomas Caplin in National Concert Hall in Taiwan: Ubi Caritas – Ola Gjeilo, with piano improvasations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTXEhaelCU0 The Earth Adorned – Waldemar Åhlén (Sommarpsalm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyFmZp0Q9oA True Colors – Steinberg/Kelly/Brown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rvpm7_ZVxFs Say Something – Chr. Aguilera/Pentatonix/André van der Merwe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7FmWJ6uOi4