Soon to be 1/1/11.

It’s been another fun year! As the last few hours of 2010 slip by, I can’t help but look back and enjoy all that’s happened.

We composers don’t socialize…

I haven’t written too many pieces this year, but for what I’ve done I really liked. HK Young People’s Chorus’ commission of “Salmo 150” was a really fun project in which I could exercise those Renaissance counterpoint muscles, while I get to go wild on “Song for Nobody” for Ambrosia Ensemble.

I wrote “Filatim” for my lecture recital, and it strengthened my interest in mixing through-composed and aleatoric material; can’t wait to write more in that vein. Gramercy Trio’s brief visit spurred good starting draft for a piano trio, and my studies with Laura Schwendinger led to th draft of a really fun sextet piece, both of which I look forward to working on when my opera is done.

Since entering the dissertator heaven (purgatory) in Spring of 2009, I have only recently been working hardcore on setting the music of my opera, “Wired for Love” (synopsis). I spent the summer reading and rereading through the original scam emails from whatsthebloodypoint, then finished writing most of the libretto, and edited it some more during fall. The music is coming along, and I really hope to finish it this winter break! (Funny enough, a talk with a server support expert at work confirmed that these scam threats from Nigeria are still quite real and worrying. Yay for socially relevant work)

Singing like crazy…

I had the fortune to hear my music performed quite a lot this year, often in second/third performances. Teaming up with composer-guitarist Bill Clay, we performed each other’s guitar song cycles at Kansas and Missouri (my “Yuan Songs” and excerpts from Bill’s “Two Kingdoms”); later in the year I was invited to NYC, and with guitarist Kenji Haba we performed “Yuan Songs” again. And of course, dear Elaine Niu and Chris Cramer took those same songs on the roads many times as well. In November, Colla Voce from Columbia, SC performed “Ave Verum Corpus: After Mozart” twice in a weekend. Seeing/hearing/feeling the same piece takes on different persona and flavor is very tantalizing.

On the other hand, I was busy performing myself too. In February I performed Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Eight Songs for a Mad King” in my lecture-recital. After almost six months of preparation, research and memorization, it was thrilling to share that with over 400 audience members–special thanks again to Paul Rowe, Susan Sweeney and Carol Mendelsohn for your coaching!

Eliza’s Toyes has been growing both in our musicianship and support for us. Our “Kircher’s Rome” concert packed Gates of Heaven one cold evening of April, and we had a fun time singing at the Chazen couple weeks ago opening for their new exhibit.

Performing with Madison Early Music Festival is always fun. This November they worked with Madrigal Singers and put together Monteverdi’s Vespers. The music; the fantastic orchestra; the pure joy of singing duet with Paul; it was probably one of my best choral memories ever!

First time singing with Madison Bach Musicians in November was a good time. The highly collaborative way of working made it feel for me like I got to both perform and enjoy everyone’s company and performances as collaborators. So was my time with Four Seasons in summer doing “South Pacific” with a talented cast and orchestra.

More exciting and whacky project will be “New Muse/New Music Everywhere”. Paola, Jon, Ching-chun and I followed our wild dream to create a local new music ensemble, and it’s actually happening! With real $ support (thank you Yamaha, College Music Society and Dane County Cultural Affairs). We had a blast putting together a 9/11 flash mob singing Barber’s Adagio for Strings. I can’t wait to kick it to full gear next year!

Well, besides music…

I had a lovely time in January being back at home in Hong Kong. I joined the protest against the HK Government building the high speed railroad link to China. Politics in HK is getting ever dicier, and living overseas, I always felt like I couldn’t do anything. It was exhilarating to take part! And though the protest failed, my hope to be socially active through art is only growing stronger.

During the summer I took an intensive beginner’s course in Estonian. Stressful time it was, but I really love the language. When I was in NYC, I visited the Estonian House (Eestimaja). It was so much fun to be able to communicate and connect with a whole new group of people, with a culture that is at once different and similar to mine. I admire their courage and determination to stand on their own feet as a small country, and have even grown to the point of earning its place in the Euro zone.

Along the line of language love, I also just started this new blog called “Gwai-lo Cantonese” to causally teach Cantonese to anyone who’s interested. Let’s see where that leads.

Greg and I moved to a new place. A bit smaller, but so much better. We said a teary goodbye  to our free piano (teary from physically picking up that dang thing), but gain a fabulous balcony. And a bigger fish tank…

Looking forward…

My opera will be finished!!

Eliza’s Toyes will have some exciting concerts on February 6  and May 7.

Will I find a job?

Stay tuned for the exciting episode of 2011!

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