In 2009 I donated a home concert to the Eugene Oregon Symphony. At the concert (Concert #9 of the 88 concert tour) I met 2 Thai eye doctors, Somsran, and Damrongpan. They both work with a foundation called the “Eye Care Foundation” conducting vision restoring cataract surgery in rural areas of Thailand. Several months later, they introduced me by email to their friend Jumbhot Chuasi. Led by him, the Fund for Classical Music Promotion and Siam Society extended an invitation to me to perform at the Cultural Center in Bangkok in April of 2011.
For the prelude for this concert, I used the word Siam to generate the main 4 note motive. At Jumbhot’s suggestion I also include the name of King of Thailand, Bhumibol. The prelude alternates between the ‘Siam’ motive and the ‘Bhumibol’ motive. Incidentally, the King is a composer of jazz melodies! Here is his first song:
I’m glad I included his name in the prelude because soon the Siam Society will be publishing this prelude in their journal and also presenting it to the King in acknowledgment of his Seventh Cycle (meaning the beginning of the 7th decade of his reign).
Overall, it was a wonderful experience. The crowd was very warm and engaged. Absolutely loved Bangkok, the food, the royal palace, the massages all wonderful and highly recommended.
In addition, I gave a master class at the Siam Society. They played Schumann, Brahms, and Beethoven. Quite talented and committed…one of the students is now attending Oberlin Conservatory.Read More
As soon as I arrived in Taipei, I met with pianist Hannah Hsu Wang, with whom I performed at Bach Hall, an intimate hall with an incredible Steinway B piano. Coincidentally, Hannah studies with Seymour Bernstein, who was the teacher of my life long piano mentor, pianist, Joseph Smith. Seymour has also been an inspiration to me over the years. Also on the first day in Taipei, I met with several Juilliard alums including Lun-Yun Cheng who immediately asked me to perform at Tainan University of Technology where he is the Dean of the School of Music. The concert was set up on just 2 days notice! That same day, I performed in the evening at the Wan-Sa Salon, run by Shih-Jung Chen, out of his home. He had one of the best Bösendorfer pianos I’ve ever played! In addition I gave a masterclass at the Tainan National University of the Arts. After 3 concerts and a master class in less than 3 days I was exhausted! Over the weekend I was fortunate to join the Yintuan hiking group for 2 days in Hualien. Gorgeous hiking and a wonderful group of people. Other highlights of Taiwan included the incredible variety of food at every meal and the astonishing proliferation of motorcycles. The week in Taiwan was truly a memorable whirlwind of new people, new places, and new foods (and concerts) and I can’t wait to go back.
Shanghai was my first stop on the Asia tour. Some of my experiments included waking up at 6am and sitting outside a nearby coffee shop and teaching my students in New York by skype! I had a wonderful tour of Shanghai’s old city from a student of Yun Sun, a very kind piano professor at the Shanghai conservatory. The concert was held at a German expat’s home in a high-rise apartment building. I noticed that the building did not have a 4th floor, or a 14th floor as those are both unlucky numbers in China. Also, it did not have a 13th floor to accommodate the westerners’ superstitions as well. So in the elevator it was 1,2,3…5, 6,7,8,9,10,11,12…15. Ha!
At the concert I performed a piece “Postlude” by the Chinese composer Huang Ruo, a friend of mine from Juilliard. This piece spurred on a discussion about cultural identity in music ie. What is “Chinese” music? Someone brought up a piece of traditional Chinese music on his ipad and had me sightread it. After the concert all of my hosts colleagues and friends stayed around and we played games for several hours.