Falling in Love with Vinyl Records in Kaohsiung／港都黑膠羅曼史
Falling in Love with Vinyl Records in Kaohsiung
◎Recounted by Huang Yu-chang ◎English translation:Tan You-yi
◎Photos by Yang Shih-jie, Pao Chung-hui
"When I was young, I trained to be an athlete. At that time, I knew nothing about music. I simply listened to music to relax," says South Audio founder Huang Yu-chang. "In October 1987, when the National Performing Arts Center first opened in Taipei, I attended a classical performance by the Cleveland Orchestra, led by Music Director Christoph von Dohnanyi; it was life changing. I was amazed at their modern interpretation of classical music and inspired me to get familiar with a broad range of music, particularly classical," he muses, remembering his younger years.
"While I was studying for my graduate program in Taichung, one of my professors helped me get my first stereo. When my roommate saw it, he wanted to get one too. This was how I became acquainted with the owner of the stereo shop and who would later become my boss. I began working in the stereo shop after I graduated. Soon afterwards, on January 6, 1996, I opened South Audio in Kaohsiung. That was twenty years ago."
About 10 years ago, Huang Yu-chang began managing the Kaohsiung International HI-END Audio Show. The event is hosted annually, by Kaohsiung Electric Equipment Association and is held at the Ambassador Hotel. Domestic and foreign audio equipment are displayed and locals can learn about the diversity of good music that comes from all over the world. Visitors can meet with recording engineers, view demonstrations about how to make vinyl records, chat with Jazz commentators and watch live bands. Two years ago, it became the first audio show to produce vinyl records. That first year, 1,500 records were made and sold within a month. The next year, 1,400 records were sold in a week.
This year, local and foreign musicians will come to make vinyl records. All the recording, printing and packaging will be done in Taiwan, with1,700 records being sold at the event. Japanese company, ULVAC Technologies will also be launching its advanced, world patented, Nano coated vinyl records at the audio show. This is the first time state-of-the-art vinyl technology will be on display. Nano coating reduces scratching and molding and has high static electricity resistance. These records are slightly more high-end, costing more than 1,000 NTD.
Taiwanese renowned pianist, Yen Hua-rong, has also been invited to be part of the recording initiative. She will produce an album that features Tchaikovsky's The Seasons which she previously performed at the National Performing Arts Center and Kaohsiung Music Hall. This new album will be called, "Nanometer in the Seasons".
Besides Eslite Music, record lovers in Kaohsiung have many options to buy vinyl records. A branch from Taipei's Siao Song Record Store, has recently opened on Singjhong 1st Road. They have a wide collection of music genres on vinyl records. There is also Shang's Music Record Store on Sintian Road. It has been in business for more than 30 years, with its owner being a great fan of classical music. Original Sound Store is a good place to pick-up bargain, used records. Records can be played in order to check that it is in good condition. Rebel Audio is located on Jianggong Road. This store provides a wide range of acoustic music, imported vinyl records and CDs. Finally, the newly opened MLD shopping center on Jhonghua Road also has a large vinyl record store.
Besides being a great place to buy vinyl records, there is a large variety of musical experiences that can be enjoyed in Kaohsiung. Kaohsiung's Symphony Orchestra is based at the Dadong Arts Center in Fongshan. A variety of performances are often held there. Kaohsiung's Cultural Center is located in the downtown area. Finally, Wei Wu Yin Center for the Arts is still under construction. When it opens, it will have the greatest seating capacity in Kaohsiung and has scheduled a variety of musical performances.