Interview by Mona #thewandererblog
Here’s a quick interview I did with the talented Annie Zhang, from Fuego Blanco.
Fuego Blanco will perform with Special Guest Maggie Ferguson at the upcoming La Gran Milonga on the 30 October 2015.
What is she doing when she is not playing: secondary music teacher.
Favourite place to be: in a flower garden in a Sunday morning.
She can’t resist: desserts.
Next holiday: Spain and Portugal, Scandinavia and Egypt. Too many to list.
Dancing tango: for two years.
High heels or flats: high heels.
Sun or snow: they are both magical.
Mountain or sea: mountain.
- What is the secret of having four ladies working in harmony?
Well, the four of us have been friends from the beginning. We all embarked on the same tango journey which has allowed us to share a common musical language. A mutual respect for each other’s ideas and constant musical discussions have fostered a healthy dynamic in the group. Most importantly, I think the secret is our shared love for tango and that creates a common goal of always playing tango to the best of our ability.
- Can you tell me about the tango live music etiquette and how do you organise your music for milongas?
In Argentina when a live tango band performs at a milonga, generally, the first piece played is not danced to. This gives the dancers a feel for the group and the music to come. However, this is not always carried out at Sydney milongas which we are fine with because the energy from the dancers is so contagious! In some scenarios the first piece may also be reserved for a dance performance. Our music is organised into tandas (that is, 3-4 tangos in a group) and depending on the mood- we might also provide cortinas. Otherwise, there is a short pause between tandas. Something we definitely learnt the hard was to not include Piazzolla in our set lists (we finally understood why when a friend explained to us that dancers often feel they cannot express this music adequately within the rules of the milonga). So now we generally play tangos from the inimitable Golden Era. However, again depending on the milonga, our encore (if prodded for one) is always an unexpected surprise so we might decide to cheekily include a modern tango then.
- Please describe each one of you in one phrase.
Isabella Brown– Double Bassist. Izzy, aka Issa, Bella, Miss. Giggles. Youngest chica in the band but most mature! She is a lean, mean, fighting machine!
Annie Gard– Violinist Annie is the pocket rocket. Tiny but fiery. A true workaholic.
Kate Agostino– Violinist. Resident photographer, Miss. Chatterbox and a sentimental sweetheart.
Maggie Ferguson– Bandoneonist/Guest of honour. Our resident hipster. Cool as a cat. Too talented for words.
Annie Zhang – me! I love music, I love tango, I love travel, I love to be around people I love.
- Where do you get your inspiration for your own arrangements?
Our arrangements are derived from countless hours of listening to different orchestras and their interpretations of the work. We listen and discuss what works best musically for our line up of instruments. Our performances of the works are different every time though, so that it makes it more interesting to listen to!
- Tell me about your next performance at La Grand Milonga on the 30th of October.
We are ecstatic about playing in this milonga. We are joined by the wickedly talented, bandoneon- extraordinaire Maggie Ferguson for some exciting new tandas. Looking forward to sharing our passion of music with the tango community once again and looking down to a full dance floor full of couples experiencing a connection to our music. We love to bring tango home to its natural habitat and feel the exchange of energy from the dance floor up to us and back again. It is always fantastic to see people engaging so deeply with our music and for this we are always grateful for the ongoing support of the tango community.
Thank you, tango chicas! 🙂
Photo source: Fuego Blanco photo archive.