Music director Bang Wenfu has an ear for representing a scene with sound and melody.
BY DAPHNE ONG
Published on 26 April 2016
BY DAPHNE ONG
Bang Wenfu has enjoyed a varied and extensive career in the music scene; his work spans theatre, pop, indie and more. His versatility and talent have made him one of the most sought-after composers, arrangers and musical directors in Singapore.
Learning classical piano as a child, Bang grew bored with Mozart and Bach, and started composing music in his teens. He attributes his foundation in composing to his stint with the Singapore Armed Forces Music & Drama Company, where music powerhouse Babes Conde took him under her wing. This was where he also encountered many of his future collaborators, including, Dick Lee, George Chan, Jonathan Lim and the late Iskandar Ismail.
Bang is best known for his work in theatre where he boasts 22 years of experience, 17 of which saw him distinguishing himself with long-running parody show Chestnuts. He has worked with almost every major theatre company, including W!ld Rice, Singapore Repertory Theatre, I Theatre and The Theatre Practice, to name a few. His intelligent compositions and keen musical storytelling have earned him respect among creatives and performers.
“Working in theatre has taught me that music is not just melody. It is a theatrical voice with life and philosophy. Sometimes when I am deep in analysing a script, I no longer think of chords and harmonies, but how this scene can be represented by sound.”
Always interested in evolving his craft and developing different skills, Bang has had his thumb in the pop scene for many years. Working closely with Mandarin pop songwriter Eric Ng, Bang learned the tricks of the trade and wrote arrangements and songs for big-name Asian chart-toppers such as the likes of Jackie Cheung, A-Mei, S.H.E and Jolin Tsai. He currently works closely with Kit Chan and was musical director for her 2015 comeback concert Spellbound.
“After all these years in theatre, I wanted to keep up with the technical aspects of music production. A snob might say pop music is rubbish, but they don’t understand the complexity of the sound engineering involved. The trouble with music in theatre is that there is rarely time to focus on sound quality.”
Indeed, he is quite happily churning out commercial work these days. Gardens by the Bay features his latest music arrangements in its light-and-sound show, Garden Rhapsody. Bang has also worked with Universal Studios Singapore, as well as Resorts World Sentosa on its fantasy musical LightSeeker.
While his career has wound around varied paths, Bang’s first love — theatre — is a fundamental part of his creative personality, and it is here to stay. “While I’d like to expand myself in commercial production work at the present, in maybe 10 years’ time I want to explore theatre and work in it more extensively.”