Upcoming xinyao concert and drama to feature pioneers such as Liang Wern Fook

Singer-songwriter Liang Wern Fook performing at the The Star Theatre on April 10, 2015.
Singer-songwriter Liang Wern Fook performing at the The Star Theatre on April 10, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

Xinyao, or the Singapore Chinese folk-pop music that grew in the 1980s, should not just be about nostalgia, says singer-songwriter Liang Wern Fook, a pioneer in the genre.

Xinyao should innovate and be featured on new platforms to engage new audiences, he adds.

For that reason, a real-life concert in November featuring xinyao pioneers Liang and Wong Hong Mok, and composer Lee Wei Song will be making it to reel life.

The concert will be filmed and snippets will be aired as part of a new xinyao-themed drama Crescendo on Channel 8 that debuts in October.

Liang, 50, a Cultural Medallion recipient, says: "People always say that xinyao concerts attract middle-aged audience. Xinyao shouldn't just be about nostalgia. "

He cites the movie That Girl In Pinafore (2013), which had a xinyao soundtrack. It appealed to young students and new immigrants, who have no memories of xinyao. He was speaking a press event for the concert on Tuesday.

Watch video here hosted on hotciderfilms' YouTube channel.

He, Wong (who is better know as Huang Hongmo) and Lee will be appearing as themselves in the drama, whereas the cast members, such as Christopher Lee, Ann Kok and Darren Lim, will be in character.

The concert setlist is still in the works, says Liang who is behind xinyao classics Xi Shui Chang Liu (Friendship Forever) and Singapore Pie. But one thing is for sure, he wants to give a fresh spoin to the classics.

For instance, it could be a duet with "old friends" Wong and Lee, or with new talents such as local singers Ling Kai and Bonnie Loo.

Wong, who made a splash with his self-penned title track from his 1990 debut album A Wild Man's Dreams and has turned Chinese poems penned by local poets into songs, will be singing his new compositions.

He is not discouraged even though tunes from Taiwan and Korea are all the rage in the Asian music scene.

Wong, who is in his 50s, says: "We shouldn't stop composing just because the attention isn't on us. We should reflect on why listeners are tuning in to other songs and not xinyao

"We can start over and find new material. If you have good songs, it will naturally gain traction. Back then, we didn't know that xinyao would gain so much attention."

Lee, 47, says he would like to do his part for the local music scene by grooming new talent. He and his twin brother Si Song had mentored Singapore's Mandopop diva Stefanie Sun. Their new protege, singer-songwriter Ling Kai, has appeared on China's CCTV reality TV singing show Sing My Song (2014).

The Lee brothers are also established hitmakers, having penned for popular songs for Asian pop heavyweights such as Jam Hsiao and Jacky Cheung.

Lee says: "Even local behind-the-scenes talents, music arrangers and musicians are sought after by overseas singers. We need to believe that Singapore has a lot of talent."

Crescendo premieres on Oct 22 at 9pm on Channel 8. The concert will be held on Nov 14 at The Max Pavilion.