6.12.13

lying is lying, cheating is cheating...


as much beautiful things i encounter in music schools- growth, hope and trust, though rare, there are moments that makes me question what drives people insane.  a common occurrence would be signing of declaration forms.

many students and young professionals go on from undergrad program to further graduate studies and competitions.  it is common for the first round of these applications to include recording samples.  we do many of these during late november and early december.  people work hard- as these projects usually take at least six months to couple of years to prepare for.  they book the hall, practice, make notes and make the recording.

often, engineers are asked to sign the declaration form(s) to accompany these recordings.  there are two usual reasons for it:
1. to verify that the recording is of said performer,
2. that it has not been edited.

editing culture is so prevalent in music industry- most of people are shocked once they register the difference of live performance and recorded product; but with technology so easily available, most commercial recordings are now heavily doctored, just like photoshopping visuals.  however, this creates further problem: that people do not want to accept their own live performances and requests editings- often in fairly insane amounts.

if a movement (let's say, 12 minutes) requires 10+ edits, that means you could hardly play through the movement. literally, almost every minute contains a mistake that is unbearable to the listener (in this case, applicant).  i understand that one may run out of time. if this is a commercial release, actually (and sadly) this is not an uncommon practice.

however, it is incomprehensible to me that people would request these heavy edits, then have the balls to ask for signature on these declaration forms. ( not to mention getting angry on top of it )

usually, there are waves of applications for particular events in these recording projects in school environment.  and as engineers are aware of the reasons behind it, we are not totally left in dark- we do know why the applicant needs that signature.

but asking for signature for declaration after such editing sessions- you are asking us to drop our professionalism, drop the trust that has been given to us from the fellow competitors and the competition/schools/institutions.

not only you are lying and compromising your own integrity, you are asking us to be part of it.

so the answer is no. such things are academic violations and since ( i ) work at an academic institution, in worst case scenario, my academic degrees may be evoked (true story).  it is not worth it for (me) to take such risks. ( i ) cannot afford to.

and i wish to ask further question:
is this really the truthful representation of who you are?

it is so easy to cheat and lie. one may not even think twice about it. but that does not make it right.  often, in such situations, i tend to 'search' the internet together to 'verify' the fact that recordings CAN be edited. but i do not like doing that. i do not need to be a mirror for an action that may have been made without real consideration. cheating is so easy.  sadly, when such declaration request is rejected, people often take the next action: forgery.  i suppose desperation and momentary blindness for possible success do blind people from seeing the truth- but that still is not 'right.'

before you cheat yourself and others, do have a think: is this who you really are?

the answers may disappoint even oneself.

your integrity, like virginity (haha), once dropped, cannot be fixed.


23.11.13

decrescendo a niente, shadow of green man.


http://youtu.be/kOhTeHDKHTk

today is the first day i feel the quiet resonance of yuletide this year- winter solstice in my heart.  may be ive been too busy and insensitive. may be life has been too full of momentum. perhaps i needed the maddening active energy to realize the diametric opposite- energy in its most complete potential state.  could it be that i needed the busy bright, artificial bustle of the 'christmas holiday seasons cheer' to realize the existence of the yuletide- the time of midwinter silence?

yuletide is a very special time for me- the cusp of life and death. in midst of quiet silence, where frozen earth no longer gives us her bounties- her breasts bare and dry, she cradles the seeds and hopes of tomorrow. the little seeds, dreaming of life.  little wee lambs in mom's womb, just speckles, yet real, quietly growing in the trance of life.  what lives shall die. what dies shall let the new life inherit the earth.  janus, the mighty green man, is only a thought in the depth of the earth- oh how he will rule the earth with bursting virility by the spring equinox!

http://www.examiner.com/article/green-man-the-early-pagan-origins-of-solstice-christmas-and-the-new-year

i am en route to the hills in 22 long and short days.

days will be different.
nights will be different.

http://youtu.be/Xjuj3Amhlt0

away from long blurred day-night of bustling city of 24 hours lit brightly with artificial sun, i will retreat to a small basket in the nook of the gentle hills, where true darkness do exists, and the night silence will be broken only by the quiet, steady running trains, coming and going, as they always have, and they always will.

away from the instant convenience of light switches and elevators that takes me to 32nd floor, i will be watching the glowing amber of the fireplace die out, perched on resonating heat from coals and wood- lives that has long passed, telling the stories of their lives, gone, true and ancient.

yuletide promises us a christian gift of innocent man. a man who is earmarked for death, not of his sins, but of a bizarre contract to save us all.  a king of man who must die in shame, the diametrical opposite of heroes.  from the beginning, a child of a virgin, he wears the mark of indiginity.  how quaint and eloquent.  he, also is only a small idea in the virgin womb.  mess of flesh, bones and undefined bits of life.

somehow, for no apparent reason, all these thoughts pierces my heart. a cold-hot thought, much like the anaesthetic needles of the dentist office- enough for me to stop in mid-step, to let out an audible sigh, a grunt.  it hurts. however, i am lucky that that life can be so rich.  from nothing in particular. from the gift of times that goes beyond my own life. of tradition, of lives told and untold, of humbleness, silence and of the meek- with hope of towering power and torrent of life force, though quiet, at this moment. dream, a seed of a green man.

bidding you a beautiful night, everyone.
wishing you the time and space, so that you may see the beauty of the times coming, of sacrifice, death and stasis- only to allow continuation of this weird flow of time, life.

17.11.13

birthday gift for a practicing man from practicing monkey


my life is often full of last-minute things. sometimes, only thing that's left afterward is singed self with hint of sanity; however, once in a while, the event fills me up, recharges, enabling me to look at the world afresh, with gratitude.

at the faculty, we have many amazing profs; prof nimmons is a person who i have been looking up for-ever, since i came to faculty.  his drive, wild personality (loads of cheeks i must say) and dedication for self-improvement, especially, i find inspiring.  at the ripe age of nine-ty, he still practices every morning. because he wants to get better.

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/emc/phil-nimmons

often, when this little monkey feels like jacking around and do nothing, i think of prof. nimmons. gets the shoes on. and marches (if somewhat reluctantly) to the work bench.

this year, he turned nine-ty.  actual b day was in june (we share the same birthday! this made me squack with joy for some reason. may be i can share hint of his genius and drive, haha.  i would believe anything if that gives me hope, i suppose. augury, anyone?), and the bday concert was scheduled for just past thursday.  i was to do backstage and was all hyped to see this event, star-studded performers filling out the programme (juno winners, order of canada recipients, geniuses etc)

came a short comet question from ignitor:
'someone dropped off the prog; can you do it?'
'what, like next week?'
'surely, you can? '
'lemme see?'

i didnt know but prof nimmons also had whole whack of written out music ('classical' compositions).  his late lady was a great pianist and as they were both studying as students, he wrote many things, with her in mind.  i remember the time when she passed away. his shadow was tinted with much sorrow...

the music looked difficult enough though. haha. naturally.

however. this was not about me. this is not about the compositions either.  this was about prof nimmons reflecting, presenting and thanking people in his life- ninety years of richness that touched countless people.  a proper celebration.

right. put that ego aside, monkey. dont be so silly.

i agreed. and put my butts to work. and played.
did it go okay? it's always okay, thankfully.

but it wasnt about me 'delivering' the work, i thought. it is a chance to express my admiration for him (building up to this point, after years and years of observation), and having a chance to be part of the world to express (our) gratitude for phil nimmons' contribution to our lives.

http://www.reverbnation.com/hyewoncecilialee/song/19187709-phil-nimmons-piano-sonata-iiadagio

he was pleased.
ignitor was pleased.
many people said such nice things.
i was- somewhat apprehensive (why did some 'things' happen in performance? how did it get there? what can i do to fix that?), bit surprised (so many 'spontaneous' events! haha! my own performance should not have that much surprises for self...), hopeful (may be next time, it WILL be better?) and most importantly-

thankful.

if im a small tool that was part of this larger composite image of a great man, and i managed (thank the lord) to express part of him, of the stories of the audiences (that resonated somewhere in their hearts) and of me (all those feeling that woke from the depth of days of my own life), then what could i possibly want more?

haha, may be to execute it better.

and that's what drives prof nimmons to practice at his age. i suppose it's only natural to want to be better!  so with grace echoing from the event, i embark on a new stack of things... only to see the glimpse of beauty. now, to chase after it.  life can be wonderful.  being able to grow is wonderful.

and,

HAPPY B DAY PROF NIMMONS!
i will play better on your 95th! i swear!



19.10.13

popular man recommends silence


my housemate/one of my dearest friends/boss has been out of action with bad case of (well, perporated) appendix- after couple days in ICU, he's finally home and starting to resemble a normal man.  expected recovery time is anywhere between two to four weeks. we'll see how it goes.

ive been filling in for his work; some tasks are familiar (ex. recording and editing), some are brand new (ex. live PA work).  it is daunting to get into a new task with your mentor far away. and that everyone questions whether you can manage:

he's not here? who's doing it?
you?!?  (they start to sweat)
but you move chairs! are you sure?

i understand the concern- mainly from two points:

1. that everyone's projects are very important to each individual and they do not want to take any chances.
2. they are used to seeing me moving chairs. so me doing complicated tech work does not compute.
so it makes them nervous. 

perhaps it wouldve been the best to find someone, then school couldve hired them. that couldve calmed the clients, as they would not have pre-context to bring in to the situation.

but i am drawn to challenges. so this wk, i learned to do live PA work in fifteen minutes and ran two shows with no problems.  the second show was for indigo event rental for the writer chuck palahniuk, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Palahniuk, running multiple channels and multiple sources.  yes. the chance of feed-back was imminent.

but event went fine. the tech staff and event staff were happy. i was happy. boss was happy that everything worked without any glitch.

before the event, i was called into the green room, as mr. palahniuk wanted to discuss 'lighting' effect for the talk.  then he and i sat in the green room for a bit. being a generous person (thats the sense i got from his talk), i wondered if he was giving me time, should/if i wanted to express my fan-ness (as event was full of his devote followers).  i do like his works and ive read them. i remember them. i wanted to say something. but i realized that he mustve been surrounded by his nutsy fans for all these days- everyone wanting a piece of him. i did.

then i decided that the best option is to leave him for a bit of silence (before i came, green rm was closed, with his staff congregating by the door- obviously he wanted some space), before he has to be an extrovert on a stage, people hungry to consume his gift, energy and wanting love (from him, as they love him).

'sir, i appreciate your work- especially the way you mix the grotesque and humour. but i am also aware that you are on a talk tour.  i wont take more of your time- i got the cues for lighting change, have a great show. looking forward.'

he looked up and with a smile, said thanks.

the audience were encouraged to ask him questions. one of the questions were: what would your advice be, for a newborn baby?

he thought for a bit. i dont think it was a dramatic pause. it felt genuine.

then he said: 
dont be afraid to offer the baby some silence.

the world is full of things pushing into your life- television, the internet, (we) are now in the attention deficit disorder generation... without silence, things cannot take place. we worry about silence. but if we can be conditioned to be comfortable, and to employ silence as part of our lives, it would be a good thing.

this probably was my favorite thing i heard this week.

walking back after the show, i bowed to self to give myself some silence. silence from media. silence from opinions and freely offered advices. silence from self/others' criticism. silence from the insane jealousy and unhappiness that comes from discourse of life.

im not very good. but may be i can be. when you run a mixer with live sound, and when the speaker feeds the microphone, we get some real nasty noise- feedback.  that screeching insanity that reverberates in people's head.  and being too acutely aware of external inputs into one's life (especially when they are given without personal considerations), and feeding the unhelpful ones to one's psyche, no wonder, a nasty feedback will happen. and it does. it wears me out. makes me sad. angry. frustrated.

but i am going to practice. to give self some silence. 

here's to hope.

12.10.13

if i was a better listener...


peter is away from home today.  the house is now really quiet- usually, we are snickering over the series of night time shows-  jon stewart, jay reno, jimmy fallon then to craig ferguson. he would be on the futon, easing into sleep and i would be writing emails and emails and more emails...

we've been friends for good 14 years or so. during those years, we grew together and apart, simultaneously. we often argue- like one little dog (me) biting the ankle of much larger dog (peter).  in one argument, i ran all the way down from 32nd floor to the first floor, then walked back up, just to let the steam out.  but there's no argument that he's one of the dearest people in my life.

though we may disagree and make all kinda silly accusations, he can have anything that i have. and he is incredibly generous with me- time and efforts, especially. the way he tries to meet my musing standards- like rolled socks in the hamper means death screeching to follow, i am quite touched, even if i have to unroll those socks once in awhile.

yesterday, he started to feel unwell. by the night, around jay reno, he was quite poorly. but he's often ill (low immunity), so we thought may be we should stay away from the hospital (where ill people go with infections!).  but in the early morning, he went to st. mike's hospital- only to let me know later that they are gonna do a small butchery! *appendicitis

may be we couldve sent him earlier if i was a better listener.
may be i am crazy. i dont know.
i do know that i feel badly that i didnt realize that it was serious any earlier...

i dropped by in the afternoon, then had to run back to school to cover his shift. by the time all things were done, it was already 9pm as i was leaving the school.  i half-ran to the hospital with his daily meds and small things, however, he's still in the recovery room (an ICU) and i would have to wait till tomorrow to talk to him.

i wish i was nicer to him yesterday when he was feeling ill. i wish him to get better soon and come home. the recovery may take  a bit and that makes me sad, sitting all alone in the little nest on 32nd floor downtown building.  i can see st. mike's from here- sleep well, peter.  i am all ears trying to hear you snoring off the night..

i miss you.
get better soon!

6.10.13

week of resonance and light


slightly ( ! ) music-filled week this was: peter grimes dress run @ canadian opera company, then nine inch nails show @ air canada centre, playing in nuit blanche 2013 @ canadian music centre, now working backstage for string quartet/octet concert at the univ...!

peter grimes was a heartbreaker and i am strongly encouraging everyone to go see it- the idea of ostracism is both old and new; along with the dry, acerbic music of britten,  

the nine inch nails show was fantastic- a big proper stadium show, with massive amount of electronic gears, moving screens and agitating rhythmic beats that disturbs calm and peace- it's quite nice to be provoked and feel the rising energy of the audience with the band.  makes me wonder how we could emulate that kind of general acceptance and love for 'classical' music.  yes, im envious! the band always touches very sensitive, if dark part of being an individual- and for me, it's always felt genuine.  hurts, because it's real.  and what a satisfaction to hear them close the show with 'hurt':

...beneath the stains of time
the feelings disappear
you are someone else
i am still right here...

then came nuit blanche- i was part of the canadian music centre's installation project that involved lights that interacted with sound, concept and execution by LeuWebb project:

what is nuit blanche? different peo'ple will tell you different things, though the general idea is about breaking the 'ordinary,' to invite, provide (objects of possible interests), provoke an interpretation- hence turning the night into an 'artistic' experience.

i always feel uncertain whenever i communicate regarding the definition/context of 'arts,' as ai weiwei (and may others) said, anything can be art... and one's preference, which overrules the objective meanings of events and things, is the essential part of 'artifying.' once we acknowledge that, the world is an endless oceans of choices and preferences, with absence of hope for the 'definitive.'

last night, as musicians took chairs at cmc, people rolled in and out. they listend, they saw. they talked and may be they even created memories.  what would it (the experience) become later? i wistfully wonder- as life fades memories fast, and though we hold onto it with great zeal, it's not of the present...

it was great playing some new music (i learned some new rep for the show, hooray), have the pretty lights to look at and enjoy the company of many interesting people.  was it artistic? i have no clue. all i can say is i appreciate everyone's efforts and care that went into it- especially the staff of the centre, composers (living and dead), peers and the great tradition of western classical music that i am part of, and of the people who took risks to spend the time with the installation...

with a small snippet from last night, i bid you all an artistic day.  let us transcend above the mundane

3.10.13

warmth in my cradled and tear-stained hands

on way back from canadian opera company's production of peter grimes, one of my favorite operas, i walked by a bird on ground.

then i walked back to see if i saw it right- birds dont usually stay on ground this time of the night in busy streets?

alas, it mustve hit the eaton centre building (the end closer to city hall and the court building)...

i understand that many birds do die crashing in to the building. ive seen a few. except, this little wee one, was still moving a bit, breathing hard and slow, wings twitching.

bunch of teenagers passed by, ah so sad. whatever, it's probably fine. gross, is it dead?

i picked it up and i didnt know what to say- im sorry, little bird, im no soothsayer, im stuck. i dont even know what i could offer you.  i dont even know what to do with you-

in the opera, peter grimes, at the end, takes his boat out and sinks it. there's no mention of what happened to him.  and when people saw that boat was sinking, there was only a small speculation about the 'boat,' but not of peter grimes.

somehow, the bird was also leaving this world, quietly, without any acknowledgement from the watching public.

i broke in tears. i walked with it slowly fading away in my cradled hands.  and by the time i was near home, it was no longer moving. still warm.

i found some weekly newspaper box. found a clean-ish page and wrapped it and decided to leave it in the lidded garbage receptacle- so that other animals wont chew on it.  of course, it must be part of the cycle, however, while i had watched it leave, i couldnt leave it out.

what a fragile world we live in. oh heartbreaks.
http://youtu.be/3SKutCY_Gyc

26.9.13

a thunderous whisper

it has been awhile since i wrote anything for the blog.

well, i have not 'published.' i have written, erased then saved many-a-thoughts, not too sure how to phrase or to present ideas- as concept is just as important as the way it is being presented to the audience.  the simple wording can create multitude of interpretations.

ex: let's paint the house blue!
i bet if one's idea of blue seldom matches another's idea of blue.
it's not blue- it's turquoise! no, it's cobalt blue! no, it's green! i say it's grey!
just a lick of paint.

i am encouraging self to look into (simple) communications with self and others (as i find certain communications pleasant - or frustrating), it becomes more difficult to write to 'everyone.'  yep, writing for 'everyone' is bit like writing for 'no one.' bit like 'drink more water!' (what if i drink too much water at the moment? what if i dont have access to plenty drinkable water? does it mean i should drink less of everything else? etc.)

however, pope francis has been in my mind since he started to speak from the top of the vatican, the epitome of wealth, belief and power- after all, isnt 'belief' the most powerful concept in human life?

he speaks succinctly and quietly.  SO we listen. even the ones who will argue against his statements listens. his latest statement, simply pointing into self-obsession that is so pervasive in 21st century's wealthy communities is still ringing in my mind:

one could take the chance and look away from one's own concerns, then one may see a different picture.

of course, life is full of trials and demands. and any issue can become part of one's reality-  i realized when gabe died, that there are more people than i realized that who have lost a young one in their lives. some of them, i was vaguely aware- but not to the same extend.  the way i look at fatigued driving is a quite changed.

few may interpret his statement as a blanket deflection, to smother the hot issues (homosexuality, child/sexual abuse, family planning, role of women in the church, etc) - these issues are important, yes, however, i do believe expanding one's interests to others is a good thing. perhaps when things are stuck at a stalemate, looking into peripheral issues can be quite a productive decision- it could even bring a greater solution to related situations. like taking a walk when practice quickly turns into a session of futility.

mr. bruni of nytimes wrote a nice article for today.
i hope this would be enjoyable to some- i quite appreciated it.

the idea of being aware is a good first step to collaboration. and we may stand better for it. love to you all.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/opinion/sunday/bruni-the-popes-radical-whisper.html?src=rechp&_r=0

http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview

12.7.13

cost of abandonment of common sense: an unhappy ankle

crossing the pyrenees: route de napoleon

out of st jean, one may choose between route de napoleon and valcarlos valley to get to roncesvalles, crossing to navarra, spain.  the route de napoleon has been favoured by both napoleon and medieval pilgrims due to its open nature, though it is a fairly stipp clime, the highest point being col de lepoeder, 1450m above the sea (st. jean is only 170m above the sea). with length of 25km with the stiff ascend, it is an arduous journey. we began with much fog and hidden sun, but as the day went on, the sun came out and it truly became the most beautiful day i had in the camino.

fueled with hope, i ran through the mountains- i arrived at roncesvalles, the common first stop just after noon.  and unfortunately, this is where i made the big mistake. without taking the consideration for the long journey ahead, this excited monkey decided to pass through roncesvalles, continuing to zubiri.  what i realized well into the afternoon was that most of way from roncesvalles to zubiri, another 20km, is mostly stiff downhill-  wearing the light barefoot-style running shoes, i decided to run through the downhills.  i arrived at zubiri well into the early evening, 5pm, exhausted and sweaty.  

next day was another long one, from zubiri to pamplona, well-over 25 km, once again, much of it on downhill.  so like a proper impatient monkey, i sped through the path.

it was on the third day morning, i realized something- i wasnt alright. 

my left ankle swelled quite a bit and it was quite painful- of course, the night before, i was tired and thought such pains were only natural, however, the ankle was warm and angry- ah. the downfall of being too eager.

this was the first time in my life that i have experienced such thing- of course, i have broken my arm couple times and dislocated things and such, but to actually do damage to myself for two straight days to the point my body said no...  

crossing from pamplona to cizur menor

ive been doing things faster than average all my life. in fact, i never doubted in many things- things always felt in such way and ive been lucky enough to navigate things through my own pace.  and now, i had to take a break.  the day was full of rain (this was the flood that hit navarra, roads were buried and things were underwater), and looking into next day's journey, which involves another stiff clime to mountain perdon (790m), i had no choice but to stop.

i dragged myself through rain, mud and tears for 5km.  on way, i sat in a cafe and called minnow and seriously considered dropping the trail and come home. the price of one's own failure was real and young and eager me did not know how to take it.  

i took refuge in a small albergue in cizur menor that day.  checked in before noon. went to the local mass. and tried to find some inner peace- but did not find it.  it was perhaps the saddest day in my trail. facing the fact that one have failed- of course, an injury is an injury, but the fact i was not listening to self was quite disappointing.
mass at local church of cizur menor, full of kids and families!
but no pilgrims, ha...

however, i now wonder if it was a necessity- to fly over the mountains. i have not felt that free in a long time. while many took their breaks and sweated, i, not knowing what may be the price of it, flew through the hills. the glorious sun and beautiful valleys- perhaps i am still glad that i did the dumb thing and ran.  as there are nothing like gliding with little wings out, with wind and hope under it.  dear cost but what an exhilaration!

these three days were the most memorable in my mind.  the launch. flight. crash.  i promise to not to bore you with all the little details of this trip. but eventually this ankle injury brings me to the point of acceptance in burgos- to go home. to stop a journey. however, in retrospect, it is also a beautiful thing, to soar over, even it results in a small crash.  

and you, the lovely people, i carried you guys in my heart during these three days. bursting with love for my friends, family, i was free, happy, beautiful. yes, i felt beautiful. in great nature, with freedom of thoughts and surrounded with love, i was beautiful. and for that, i thank you all- for transforming a mere silly monkey, even just for the short days.  the true riches of one's life is so much easier to see when the background has been taken off. then one may find a new perspective- of how one's constructed.

i am constructed with love.
thank you.

more camino thoughts coming soon! :)

a comet called camino de santiago lands on monkey head

st jean pied de port, pyrenees-atlantiques, france, 630am 

we are going back a bit in time in this post- ive been writing, then erase. write. erase. abandon and come back. abandon it again.  there are plenty of things that wants to get out yet they werent quite ready...

i do enjoy the intimacy of writing to friends. the taste of words. the fragrance of memories and thoughts. all very delicious, magical, often intimidating and sad, smudged with life bits. the idea of taking the time to form sentences to see where it all goes.

on 27th of may, 3am in the morning, as i fall into sleep in the bustle of city night, i had one thought that came across my head, like a comet: go to the camino.

i wasnt too sure at that point what camino was. i still cannot remember where i have heard about it.  or why it came to me then.

it's one of the three medieval pilgrimage route (other two are to jerusalem and to rome), leading to santiago de compostela, galicia, spain, where supposedly body of st. james was transported from rome and was buried..  the route i took, camino frances, the most popular one, starts from the southern pyrenee, st. jean pied de port- 800km journey. and you can now walk or bike, or take the donkey (teehee).  upon completion, pilgrims were given pardons (indulgence) from the catholic church (though now, if you do the last 100km on foot/ 200km on bike, it is considered 'completed'),  and since the dark days, thousands of people have walked on it.

with slight confusion, i texted the bookbomber to test the water: do you think i am crazy?

whiplash text back at 305am: go!

and by next day, i had everything arranged- the travel, finances, discussion with minnow.  on 3 june, i flew to manchester. main options to getting to st. jean is either getting to biarritz airport or to bayonne train station and take the bus to this little town.  i flew manchester-paris, then TGV from paris to bayonne, then to crowded bus full of 'pilgrims' to st. jean,  on 7th, i was walking from st. jean pied de port.

with 5 kg of backpack, i was a drop of water in the eternal wave of people, seeking for - well, many different things.  i am still not sure what have brought me to step one. and now that i have finished, i am not sure what it is that has came out of it. too soon to tell.

about the logistics of camino itself:

once one has obtained the pilgrim passport (you can acquire one from st. johns brothers across the world or get one where you arrive, should you start at a main departure point, like st. jean), one is to get it stamped every night- stamp will include location and date. this is to verify that youve done the camino as specified by the church if one plans to obtain the indulgence (compostela) upon arrival in santiago.

as a pilgrim, one usually stays in an 'albergue,' a minimalist hostel.  they open in the afternoon and stamps your passport. you\re likely to be put on a bunk bed with others (some municipal ones are quite big, housing over 100 people per night).  the main advantage would be the social mingling and the cost-effectiveness (municipals ones cost 5-10 euros per night, private ones from 10-15 usually), but there will be minimal furnishing and one is expected to get out and start walking by the morning (9am usually, though most people tend to start much earlier (esp. when it's really hot!).

daily routine: wake, (eat optional breakfast), pack, walk, check into an albergue, shower, wash/hang clothing, inspect and care for feet (some horrific blisters out there and other injuries), make the bed (thanks to bedbug problems, all places require you to put on disposable liner sheets on bed/pillows. major pain if you are short and are allocated on upper bunk), forage/cook/eat/drink, sleep. repeat.  people did took time for rest days- popular stops are the big towns such as pamplona, burgos and leon.

in my pack were:
sleeping bag liner, wool undies (top/bottom)
non-walking clothing: a skirt, a tanktop and long sleeve
walking clothing: hat, detachable leg pants, a t-shirt
a hoodie and waterproof jacket
3 pairs of socks and undies
pair of sandals (for shower, etc)
notebook, guide book, 2 pens and 1 pencil
solar charger, usb charger, three cables
two mp3 players (which was not used), earphones
small pack of: bandages, needles, ibuprofen, nail clipper
2 x travel size toothpaste, toothbrush
one bar of soap (hair/body), a comb, travel towel
water bottle, a sandwich (always!)

like a snail, i packed as little as possible.

it was amazing how heavy the pack felt at times though.  digging through the shoulder, under the beating sun. also under pouring rain. navarra had one of the worst flood damage while i was walking the camino- to a point where the route was completely buried under water and people had to take the highway.

the first night, i ran into two aussie brothers and they become the bookend of my travel (wait for it!).  after sharing the sleeping quarter with the two gents, curled up in a prawn position (the mountain regions can be quite cold, and to minimize the weight, i did not pack a sleeping bag but only a cotton liner- brrr. i wore pretty much everything i owned haha!), next morning, at 630am, i started my first day of camino, going over the mountains.

what was i going to find?
i was not sure, but i sure flew over the mountain pass-
with this newly found freedom/restriction of the camino.
like drop of water, riding on the great eternal wave.






25.6.13

doodle record: camino frances: episode 1






dear blog, ive been lazy, i know! well, i thought we should have a flexible relationship, ahem, so i waited till there is something interesting to put up... i went and came back from camino de santiago: frances.  it's an old walk that lasts about 800km, going from st. jean pied de port in southern france to santiago de compostela in northwest coast of spain..

well, more on that coming on later (promise!) but that will take time to process... so meanwhile, a doddle entry from the road. much love to you all!

12.5.13

mothers day

mothers' day is a different one this year
it will never be the same
a comfort of ritual,
of small gathering now
broken
ripped away
furious violation of the young with the old

a mother with one less child
a mother with a child who have lost a child
it is a day that i cannot say
happy mother's day

happy for what, i may ask-
why is it always about happiness
the world that is full of possibilities

as much as
of misfortune suffering grievance
of irreplaceable loss
of the days of unspeakable feelings

for twenty-eight years
she have spent in nurturing bickering
convincing and convinced
for the days- for how long, we do not know
she now can only
remember reminisce
the allure of graspable existence of
a lost child
deep in her heart
each beating moment

the mother consoling a child
who has lost one of her own

two different mothers
confined in the same invisible grid of bereavement
leans to one another
in front of a cemetery plot
still fresh without grass
the earh freshly sunken in
too new to be commemorated
in iron and steel

mother's day is yet just started
as a child died
as a child buried
in their minds

11.5.13

yes, he was great, mr. gatsby



as the semester is quickly rolling off its insanity, now i finally have time to go and do things other than chasing schedules and notes.

i learned that one of my fav band, depeche mode, have released a brand new album in march. so i caught up with that. delta machine is breaking my heart. depeche mode always been on top quality for writing, but their lyrics in this little journey of falling in love to manifestation of love, to its inevitable end, is really doing my head in.

http://youtu.be/BdEZq6F7SEM
... i couldnt save your soul,
i couldnt even take you home
i couldnt fill that hole
alone...
there's a thin grey line
between the black and white
it's evidently hard to find at night...

the idea of being alone after tasting what it is like to be with someone, intertwined and mangled together, that upon separation, the two individuals who has been one, is no longer a whole, but a maimed mess of flesh and blood-

and to make matters even more complicated, one of my favorite novelette, the great gatsby came out as a movie this week. so excitedly i went, despite of all the bad reviews.

i thought it was beautifully done.

before i go any further, here's a brief summary:
a poor boy falls in love with a rich girl.  poor boy gather wealth. the girl felt she cant wait, marries a wealthy man.  poor boy, now talk of the town, tries to win her back.  little girl she is, she does not realize the powerful consequence of her musing.  she gives formerly poor boy a half-promise.  but at the heart of confrontation, she buckles under pressure- all she wanted was glitter and gold, no more, no less- not even love, as she realize it will cost her.  she passively decides to leave the poor boy. poor boys gets shot, while waiting for the call from the girl, never knowing that she may say 'no more.'

though im not a jewellery kinda girl, i could not help but to admire the beauty of tiffany & co. collection.  it was reasonable to think that even that could not save gatsby from his fate.  however, did it cost him or did it add to him? i think it probably added to his life.  to own such beautifully crafted things, though one may not know the full value of it, i think, is a simple human desire, to acquire.  and to fulfil that- is nice.

and thats what gatsby does. collect one thing at a time, but eventually, he would collect them all. 'no' is not a possibility.  car. house. parties. influences. power. he will get them all and as he collects them all, he experiences even greater hunger for the ultimate acquisition: daisy.

some may think he was a fool. only a fool would trust such fickle girl. the fact he didnt see that wealth could not make him happy makes him a failure.  he forgot what it is to love- which is different than to obsess.  it is a cautionary tale.

i believe not.

in fact, gatsby dies in his peak.  he dies in full glory, in his ghastly massive house, with no soul left in it to console him, the moment full of hope- 'she loves me and she will be with me.'

in my book, that makes him the richest man. he dies in his beautiful illusion.  surrounded with beautiful things. and none of the party-goers who never knew nor understood him.  it's slightly biblical for me.  a man at his peak, dies, without full-acknowledgement of his actions and its consequences...

and of course, when he dies, there's nothing left of value. but perhaps that's only natural.  gatsby the self made man.  against all the odds. why should he matter to anyone else, as who he really was?  no one was interested - even daisy. daisy liked the idea of gatsby i believe. and with that foolish young heart, she did love him as much as she could- which is, not much... a beautiful fool she was.

to die as a devoted man is a great achievement.
to die as a believer.
to die while one consumes with vigor and desperate hunger.

that is a great man.
who cares if no one came to his funeral?
to die with heart full of that near-victory anxiousness-

as i try to collect self calmly in midst of all these dramas (esp of depeche mode and great gatsby), i make a foolish wish, to die with heart full of hope, even if it's all delusions.  i have yet to know what it must be like to have such conviction, strong enough to self-make, to shake the world and to entice the world with one's charisma/mad devotion.  but tonight, in mid-spring frenzy, perched on top of 32nd floor by self, i dream of what it would be like to be a prophet.

prophet of love. consumption. of final death.






25.4.13

1 + 1 + [(3+1)-1] = 5


http://youtu.be/86dSerwbIMw
death be not proud, from holy sonnets of john donn,
set by benjamin britten; ian bostridge and graham johnson
*ronandini pieta, 1564

this eve, i will go up north to meet family, now we are five, not six.

wait, we are six this evening i think.  the wee one will be with us.  in small fragments, embedded deeply in each heart, continuing to pulse and send the warm blood out, right to the fingertips and little piggies, then back, carrying worries, happiness, disappointment and of course, joy.

when i was a kid, i saw my family as: 3 + 3 = 6
three little unruly kids and three adults.

when i moved out, i saw it as: 1 + 3 + 2 = 6
me, loner, adults who deemed me crazy and bros

years later, then my older bro moved out: 1 + 1 + ( 3+1 ) = 6

gabe never moved out. in fact, he was well on way ton convince the three adults to buy a house with basement apartment, so that he may live like a proper baby brother.

then he rolled the car and that was that: 1 + 1 + [(3+1)-1] = 5
the total sum of this family equation changed for first time in 28 years.

i understand that soon another one will go from the group. granny's old, she's in dusk. each time i see her, she's bit shorter, a little bit more tired, brightness of the eyes show the hint of cloud- may be a veil, like the old screens at the movie theaters that rolled down at the very end.  recent winter cough took much out of her and she is of old age. once she leaves,

1 + 1 + [(3-1 + 1)-1] = 4

i feel for my mom. i think what she really wanted was: 6
no equations, divisions. just simple single group which happen to have six components.  she never thought that we would lose one, nor her kids- esp me, would be so head strong that ( i ) would move out against all traditional practices she knew as old-school korean.

instead, she's got a rather complicated one, which hangs with many brackets and fine threads. it may break at the slightest pressure- as they work so hard and the generational and cultural gab have left us oceans apart.

lucky that ocean is full of love.
even when it brings all consuming storms,
taking the ships upside down,
punching it on the eye socket.
but then, thats what the ocean does.

during the recital today, the soloist kiddie decided to read the two selections from the holy sonnets of john donne (mystical poet of late 16th century), set by benjamin britten. and then it struck him and all of us- the weight of the text, the wish, which turns into a hope, extinguishable and unquestionable- for one to be free of weight of death, not just the act of dying, but of inevitable losses, the desperation now exalted into a feverish reverie, fleeing away from poison, demise and withering touch of life- as all born must age, suffer and die.

i had to hold self fairly tight mentally.

it all came together. the full moon i saw shortly after i buried the little one (mayday, 201), the first time i had the chance to look up from the weight of death of close one and related draining tasks, it is out tonight, pale and silent, moving across the empty streets, sending only the palest light to few city dwellers, still up at 430am, with burning sensations in our stomachs- whether it be love, loss or hope... as they are all equally dangerous.

the tear stains, lacrymosa of  'iii. oh might those sighes and tears return again,' of the holy sonnets- like the old rust stains on the building that is past its prime. the stains that now is part of the surface.  blood of dying metals. coppery, crumbly rust. the ones that fall to the ground as dried chips as one touches it with lightest hand.  like my mother's hand, which hardly has any finger prints left from working.

and fervent, delirious declaration of death of 'death' in 'ix. death not be proud'- bizarre. till today, i thought it as declaration of the faithful who believed in truth. but today, i heard brilliant moment of lucidity of a mad man who's been pickled in sorrow- the man who have not died. may be he is dorian grey.  today, it was a delusional declaration of insanity in its full manifestation- at which point it becomes real.

then a friend sent me a poem, about man who was losing his wife, wondering what would happen if you went to heaven to pick a flower and came back- and found flower in his hand- what would happen? and it drew things out of me.

...then i would wonder
if it is the flower that i hold
or
the flower holds me

whether i am smelling the flower
or
flower smells me, of life, of tiredness,
and it wonders why

oh why it is so important
that all things line up the same way
is it real that (you) hold me in (your) hands
or shall ( i ) say ( i ) hold you with my life
as time turns
as nothing stays
as real as pain may be
as unreal the loss, perhaps,
as one never lose another
if separated
perhaps only by a very thin line
drawn on sand with a stick

i have a long day tomorrow. i better sleep. or at least sink into the depth somewhere that i may hear the murmur from the other side of the line.  may be i will hear that continuing repeated pitch in my head- my, and wee brother's heart beat, as he lives somewhere in that complicated place, full of blood and fervour- whether i seek for life or death, which seems be the same at this moment.  if i lie quietly, would i feel the heart of my mother, father and granny, whose heart would also carry bits of the wee one? would i hear slightly younger beating of my older brother's heart? would they be mourning? am i mourning?

i am confused and dazed.  the feeling of thin fog enveloping my heart and my feet, slightly cold and clammy. uncomfortable. just like life is, most of the time.  i grieve this dark night. i deplore.




12.4.13

Edákrusen ho Iēsous

Henry Ossawa Tanner, Resurrection of Lazarus, 1896, Public Domain.

the shortest verse of the bible intrigues and baffles me:

Edákrusen ho Iēsous

jesus wept

(john 11:35)

?!

as a child in sunday school, it was impossible to understand: why would he? he could do anything? and he does?! why are YOU crying?

in the story, lazarus, his best bud, is dies.  jesus heard that lazarus is ill, however, got there too late- lazarus was no more. he wept.

now, that makes sense.

what does not make sense:  then he resurrects lazarus.  in my eyes, jesus had nothing to cry about- may be he mustve cried because the rest were crying- much like bunch of children, when one starts to cry, the rest often joins in.  may be he cried to show that he belonged with them, in common experience of death of lazarus.  but it wasnt like he was never going to see lazarus- didnt he come to talk about afterlife? one must believe in it to convince people about it? if anyone was going to cry, it shouldve been lazarus: where the hell am i? what have happened? why the heck am i here alone in a burial ground? whats going on? can you imagine the horror? there is no way lazarus knew what happened to him right away- and staying in the tomb for four days, he mustve felt awful- hence: waaa!

as i got older, that small sense of sarcasm grew and grew. perhaps jesus wept because so many of us were calling him (in bane) because we are so pathetic...

jesus, i am late!
jesus, i cant believe him/her!
jesus, i failed this assignment?
jesus, he/she cheated on me!
jesus! (shakes head in disbelief)

i still think jesus would surely cry when he has to listen to all these (possibly petty) pleas and cries.  jesus may even think: what are you guys? bunch of children? what do i have to do with human faults? why dont you take responsibility with your freewill? learn to be responsible, no?

regardless, the son of god cried. this is a big deal.  may be he really suffered (human) pain of death.  like the way he felt hunger and thirst, he felt 'loss,' irreversible (at least in this 'living' plane).  this is the first time someone close to jesus dies i think.  and we thought we cried when we first lost something dear to us...! (most of us, it wouldve been something smaller, older or a bit farther away from us, whether it be a goldfish, old grand parent, puppy... i only really lost someone really close at ripe age of 31 and people were sympathizing about my untimely loss of younger brother).

may be knowing that lazarus did not completely disappear and cease to exist (regardless of resurrection), he felt sorry and frustrated for lazarus' friends mourning- dont you get it kids? lazarus' not done- stop crying!

perhaps we will never know why he wept. but there it is, most memorable point of bible.

whenever life fills up to the top and i have to balance carefully- my patience leaving me, my sanity nowhere to be found, catching myself saying sharp things and getting immensely frustrated by small faults of others that was never intentional, i think of this particular verse.

he may have cried for me. because i am so small. and fragile. and has no special presence or power.so not special.  because i am broken and pathetic. or because he desperately wants me to see how things really are- that no one is truly trying to screw me over, it just happened to be.  because he felt sorry for me.

april rain has been coming down hard for past two days.  ooh surely the day is full of reasons for us to cry. and jesus to weep.  such is life.  never quite right but heart-touching.

8.4.13

04:43, she sunk, in tea cup of melancholia


http://youtu.be/J_jW5X3szMw 

so many thoughts and people wafting through my mind today- like the famous crossings of shibuya, tokyo. as season changes, snow and mountains of workload melts away, to make room for the new. underneath it all, there they were- fragments of pasts and what may become future.

the night time solitude draws out the most tender feelings- they hibernated underneath the storm of mundane tasks of daily grind, till the softest new leaf could break through the smallest crack of the proletariat asphalt. though theyve been there for the entire winter, only getting noticed now- carrying the smallest portion of what the stories may have been-

who did that toy ring belonged to? did she cry when she lost it?

who wouldve tossed that fag end? in frustration or jest? in bravado or with reluctance, knowing that's the last one in the box?

they lie naked on the sidewalk, in faded glory.  as people pass it by, stepping on and on.

pot of tea sits, 4am bitter. blood of leaves, strewn in violence of hot water, they release the memory of hot days and cool nights, when they lived, grew, stretched out to sky. now silent, sinking to the bottom, with no more joy, flight or a dance in the wind.

without companion, the tea is losing its steam. alone, i no longer desire to consume its warmth. perhaps i am the stone status, i just do not know it yet.  indifferent to the world and its busy stories.  frozen enough to watch the pot of tea losing its vitality and drama.  perhaps that's appropriate for now.  wee hours in the city, where there are no birds to chip in the turn of the night to morning. only difference may be the absence of any kind of traffic.

pause.

leaves speak from the bottom of the cup: sad. sad is alright.

soaked in spring melancholia.

31.3.13

transcendence. tango. humanity.

*small golden sparks from the tango cafe eve

often, after a good bonfire, the ground stays warm over night. an echo that rings through, carrying the sparks of the night well into the back of one's mind, always there, burning bright and effortlessly.

the tango cafe event was a roaring success. we packed the venue- probably the most people ed had to pack into gallery 345 ever (so said he!), and we had dancers- through the entire second half. people got up and chatted, held one another in embrace, adored graceful slivers of human life- against all the roughness and the difficulties of daily life. 

i find it shocking to think about one's daily 'required' tasks and how violent and vicious they may be- for instance, 

eating: mastication: bearing teeth and consuming living things, pulverizing, tearing, swallowing- covered in mucus (saliva), to take things into long and bacteria-ful digestive system.

excretion: expelling the wastage and refuge that results from biochemical processes that is perpetual and violent; the repulsion is so great that in most civilizations, the act of defecating is almost always done in privacy, the final product being the common subject for both taboo and crude humour.

birth: probably the most traumatic experience in one's life- thankfully we are not able to remember the details, as offsprings.  

sex: sweaty, dilated eyes, unsteady and stressful cardiac reactions, copulation's ultimate goal being reproduction *see birth- eeek. can be quite shockingly grotesque.

the list goes on and on.

however, even as we are designed to be frantic and cruel for survival (thankfully, evolution and rise of consciousness/philosophy has helped us to live in relative peace and (if forcefully imposed) order), the very same demanding humanity gave birth to some lovely ideas, such as... well, dance and music in this occasion. 

from the lowest class of  argentina- a typical western society strewn thick with wealth/equality/political issues, tango was born between the legs of poor immigrants, broke and desperate men and their women, often in low-class lifestyle and occupations- a product of slumming. but through that, somehow, the human conditions- desperation, tension, release, yearning, all these feelings became key ground for a genuine art form of tango.

and hence, we the crude individuals, learned to overcome the elemental violence of life, to create and seek for grace and beautiful escapes, simply through sound and motion. 

perhaps i do not dare attempt to learn the dance of tango as it is intimate, graceful, tension-ridden and most importantly, seeks commitment and refinement from the dancers.  so i hide behind a big black coffin and manipulate small keys- where i feel relatively safe, to vicariously taste this beauty.

and i did live those rhythms and movements behind the big piano- thanks to my beautiful band mates.  and dancers. where the sum of the parts are exponentially larger than the parts themselves- i took risks and played out, with the group pulling and demanding more from me, and to see that collected energy in motion of dancers- aaah. ecstatic experience.

hopefully we meet next week to div up the booties and wrap it up- as we all went back to our daily lives, to catch up on the things weve dropped and pushed back temporarily, to 'enjoy' one another's company on the night of 22 march.  i wonder how the week wouldve been for others. i wonder if there will be a next time. i wonder if i will ever get enough courage to get off the piano bench and take a cautious step to the floor (as i used to, with greatest reservation with my great and beautiful dancer friends bryan and ruben, years ago).  i wonder if i will get to keep these beautiful comrades as friends. i certainly hope so. and all of this gives me great hopes and dreams about my other adventures- whether it be in music, in people or simply in looking into myself, finding the corners and thoughts that i didnt know of, yet.

how lucky are we to be able to taste the grace beyond the daily grind.
much love to you all,
humming softly to echos of little melody of vieja serenata.



20.3.13

with fires in our bellies, we play


on friday, my idea of three concerts in spring will come reality once again, concerto no. 2: tango!

with small idea, i got a core group of people interested and the thing just grew (thanks to beautiful soo for being eager and enthusiastic. sometimes when there is a good thing to happen, it's hard to sit still and do the daily mundane... haha), and by friday night rolls, we will have amazing accordion player, gusty bassist, romantic cellist, a young and enthusiastic violinist and older and experienced, yet still enthusiastic violinist,  a quiet yet sharp-humoured guitarist and an unruly monkey on piano.

for me, the best thing about being a musician is well, being alive and being able to enjoy certain kind of flexibility.

while in school (and working in school), it is easy to forget why all these things matter- practice, assignments, classes, even playing sometimes.  i think it's inevitable- as soon as there are rigid structure, it can either help you to be productive, or it can become the biggest shackle over oneself (though it is really up to the individual).  but no one said being in school would actually make one smarter/better/different. while in school, one may have the opportunities to learn and practice particular techniques and thoughts, and the school context helps to create a certain momentum- ex. studying together for an exam, or even getting inspired by the colleague's recital, to practice and become a better musician.  but yes, school is for school.  being in school means not much. but what you learn and gather in school, you may take it with you and create a life, in reality (ex. out of school).

and that's the best thing about the outside concerts. i decided to organize these when things were slow in the fall, to create and follow through unnecessary projects (as i work in school, there are plenty of things to do in busy times...)- then i realized that these 'unnecessary' and 'optional' projects do become a real focal point of my life- something that matter to me, not just a job or a gig, but something that requires my attention and love.

music is great. the bassist and cellist has been very clever in their selections and arrangement for the group. and yeah, we are badass players. it is taking us a bit more time than we can afford to really jell together- as for few of us, it's not a familiar territory, but in parts, it really grooves. yeah. 

but i think for me, the best thing is the people that i met through this project. each individual is slightly nutty and talented. characters, yes.  and i am really loving the differences and even the miscommunication. so what if we argue or being slightly confused at times? that's life, yeah? after all, the music does bind these strangers together, huddled in a small practice room for no apparent reason but 'to play together.'

we have our last rehearsal tomorrow and then we roll.
it'll be great.  of course, there will be points one would like to have a second go, but that's inevitable. especially if your ears and hearts are open.

im looking forward.  yeah, i know i sign all my emails saying: 'looking forward,' but it's true.  what a beautiful i have, with all these beautiful people sharing their lives with me.

group, i love you dearly!
thank you!!
and gang, i love you guys too :)
yaaaay

14.3.13

it's a bird! it's a plane! it's francis!

'habemus papam.'

two antiquated words rang through me as i was walking through manulife centre, bay-bloor radio. i stopped. ah, a new chapter, it arrived with vigor and sense of nice surprise.

i worked at a local catholic church from age 14-22.  as the main mass organist, my friday nights were spent with the choir and my sunday mornings were full of sleep and sermons, all at the same time.  it is hard to appreciate at that age, what such tradition may hold, especially if the event is closely linked with pocket money income!

i was raised as a catholic, baptised as soon as they could, as i was a preemie and no one wanted to see me run away to purgatory. my name cecilia was chosen by family friend nun at the local parish.  mom was active with the community and we always had church people in and out of the house.  my kindergarten was attached to the church and i went on a bus (couple stops), with two other boys, monday to friday.  as i walk past the sanctuary, apparently i always went in (and come out in a hurry), on way to the class and out of the class. the sisters asked me what i was doing. apparently i felt the compulsion to say 'hello jesus,' every time i passed by, as i felt as if he would be a friend.  a good one.

as i grew, i start to disagree (the first sign of aging haha) and attack the church system and policy.  this pushed me deep into bible study. if this is the word of the lord, what does it really say and why do we always fight about it? why does good things happen to bad people? what is 'to obey?'

and as the days went, i grew apart from the church. i disagree with some of their core policies- if i was strong and commited, i shouldve stayed in the church and seek to change, living up to the belief; after all, what jesus said was simple: love one another.

nowdays, im quite far from the church (psst dont tell my mom/granny)- however, this sudden resignation from the benedict xvi, with the world, i watched and followed.

see, the catholic church operates based on belief.  belief is one of the strongest powers in the world.  same power that allows the top-notch scientists to seek god-particle in CERN also powers these believers to completely override the time and space and practice a ritualized cannibalism, a communion, to elevate a simple 'mass' ritual to a spiritual ascend, a way to true freedom and happiness.

and because it operates on belief, often i feel that it's quite unfair for the rest of the 'logical' world to press for change.  if we need logic, we wont have to believe, and vice versa.

and this power within the group, unfortunately, have nurtured serious problems within/around the church- the sexual issues, euro-western-centric policies, etc.  but look, benedict XVI did stepped down.  what or how did it came to him, we will never truly know. however, i do understand such things are not only left to chances. from afar, all i can say is that a change is due.

the new pope is first of jesuits and non-european to take the helm of the church.  it may mean nothing ultimately, but i want to believe that this could be a good change.  there are already a few bashings happening about his conservative stance, however, the church is, in a weird sense, a freely-chosen membership system. and if they are the minority, it is not always fair for the majority to 'choose' for them and mold them (isnt that what we are trying to do with same-sex marriage anyway? for heteros to accept homosexuality? bah).

within the human history, there are many cases of changes- unexpected, shocking and unbelievable.  the bible is full of it in fact, remember paul on way to damascus? and the fact st. augustus was such a problem child that he turned his mother, monica, into a saint? ha! it does happen.

if one supports the new pope's present stance on life, keep an open mind.  if one disagrees, well, keep an open mind.  no one man is truly evil of sane (hence excluding sociopathic/psychopathic) and this man probably thought many things in life in many ways. after all, he is a jesuit.  but let's be aware that when standing against a bigotry, one may become a mirroring bigot oneself as well. of course, the church has made some grievous errors. but shouldnt condemnation be followed with hope and willingness to interact and change?  after all, this may be the man who can turn the church back to centre it with people.  a church is not a building, a church: ekklesia, is a combined word, of 'an assembly' and 'called-out ones.'  it is a living church, a believer, a group of believers.

if it is living, it will change and grow,
i am wishing that the church will bring people back, as people always was the centre of a good living churhc, faith, hope and kindness.  and to allow that, we must all do our parts to be true man among the others.  after all, his first address was to humbly ask 'all men and women of good will' to help him lead the catholic church. let us be good then.  let us beware of the evil and bigotry and the dangers of becoming bigots ourselves, and deliver us from evil, amen.


12.3.13

things from the street...

as it's march break, there were many kiddies around... and as i got my hair cut, i was running around town. and as always, with open ears. couple funny things that i overheard:

A: --but that audi has four cylinders!
B: but what about the torque?
- both kids were no older than 10 years old, i swear.

A: but it was a quiet one!
B: dude, silent fart still is a fart, even when it doesnt sing...
- somewhere on bloor st. west, two boys.

A: - so i got 62%, i thought i would get 65% and pass,
B: well, i donno what to say-
A: what did you get?
B: i dont read numbers, i just look at the letter grade, C-
A: he said average was 73%?
B: yeah, so many people did worse than us!
*passer-by man shakes head violently.
-right through ryerson campus


11.3.13

a short thought on conflict

1. you think i have control issue (fair)
2. may be it's because you also have control issue? (i think very fair)

because, you see, if you are not trying to control me, perhaps you would not think im trying to control you....

this makes me feel inquisitive (what am i doing?) and silly (eeeek. didnt mean to be oppressive).

perhaps the balance is in accepting the fact we all have desires and ideas and we need to let certain decisions to be made, if brutally put, regardless of individual principles.  however, i will try to not forget that if someone finds another oppressive, perhaps it's a mutual situation. heck, it's usually a mutual situation.

after all, we care because we love.
including conflicts, ha!

loads love! :)


8.3.13

bits and pieces of



i will show you how i am put together
pieces of scarps and bits
that haven't been fed to the dogs.
incomplete,
just a bit short of who i wish to be.

a superhero
or a rock star
wish i had something
amazing
worthwhile to show you,
which i do not have.

i
the stringy bits of
desperate efforts
stand here
wishing that i blended to the walls
so that it is not visible
how broken i am

but there you are
looking right at me
in the eyes
not speaking or judging
but
acknowledging.

thank
you.

7.3.13

audition thoughts... yes, it's that time of the year again!

ive been doing much work and my brain has been rattled when i get home- not a great situation for writing blog post. and i have missed writing greatly. there has been so many wonderful rehearsals, new and old friends, etc. even concerts! and it just flew by! what a shame...

so before i forget more stuff, here are some thoughts regarding audition process. the grad audition weeks were quite demanding- i accompanied about 29 grad auditions. however, i do enjoy this season immensely- people have been preparing to be at their best and i do like being part of this exciting process! and if there are things i can add or suggest that may allow the player to be more of 'who they are that day,' i am a happy monkey! :)

1. always, always double check the requirement.  if they are asking for full-concerto (apparently mcgill did, this year), do prepare the whole thing. if they say no repeats, well, dont bother.  not being able to tailor your program means that you either did not read the requirement (bad) or you did not understand basic english (worse).

2. when picking works, at least pick one easy work. what's easy work? the work that's at moderate tempo without too much demand on rhythm/ensemble/stylistic points.  of course, pick one or two additional works that may best represent your ability but do pick an easy work, to settle self down in heat of the moment.

3. make sure your piano part matches your instrumental part.  often people are surprised when i ask them to bring me their parts: dont you have them?  well, there can be many different editions and i do not see the point of playing from a different editions, especially when the editors may have been too creative.  also, several works exist in multiple keys- check, check, check!  even simple things like bar numbers may differ.

4. start your audition with the 'easy' work selection. if you have something impressive, they will get to it. panel would know the repertoire.  i strongly advise against starting the audition with any 'solo' works as no. 1 pick.  not because the pianist need to stay in the room twiddling thumb, but because solo work means... well, you are on your own... youve hired me as a wing man, lemme be there with you.  on easy-accompanied, at least i can try to hold you, help you get centred. and who said solo bach is easy to start? in fact, it's never easy?!!  and if you bring solo bach, trust me, they will ASK for it.

5. when you are tuning, do play at the full pitch, especially you, wind players (brass, im looking at you).  wind flow will effect the pitch and if you tune much softer than playing level, well, you will have to readjust constantly.  also do get used to playing when instrument is cold/reed is dry/excited- it will take time to get used to such environment.  if you arent sure if you are too high/low, just pick one way, then you will either get closer or further from being 'on.' if you have gone the other way, well, reverse. but do tune please.  also, play some big notes and soft notes, to get used to the acoustics of the place.

6. if you have a particular passage that you want to play for the panel, do ask them gently.  they are there to listen to you, rather than put you on a spot and make things awkward.  if you dont ask, they may never ask...!

7. for things such as sight reading or play-back, take your time. taking your time is never a penalty. doing it wrong does call for penalty.

8. check your tempo at home with metronome. you are likely to play faster when excited. in that case, you can at least get back to the metronome marking during warm up and refresh self.  when picking tempo, never pick the tempo from the beginning- find the most difficult part, find tempo, then fit it back.  if appropriate, ask your accompanist to 'hold' to the centre of the beat. once rolling, it's hard to stop... from crashing.

9. do practice wearing your armour of choice. girls, especially- high heels will significantly alter your stance/posture.  start practicing with your heels on weeks before. if you arent compfortable, bring a pair of flats.  better to play centered than being wonky on a beautiful heels- that makes you look not too beautiful... especially if your breathing suffers (hence sounds etc)

10.  do check and check and check again- do you need photocopies? have you worked out your page turns?  do you have copy of your cadenza for the pianist? we dont like doing sitting duck-guess work. we may not know your cadenza.  we want to catch you. we dont like being all stressed out, wondering where the end of the cadenza may be. simply make two more copies, and keep them in your score with paper clip. awesome. no more guessing.

11. leave extra time for travelling.  with winter storms and such, things get slowed down or flat-out cancelled.  usually, flying in 7am to do audition at 3pm is not the best idea. i know it costs money- then re-evaluate: is it really worth it to take that risk (and you be tired!) to save a few bucks IF THIS IS THE SCHOOL YOU WANT TO SPEND 2+ YEARS AT?

12. do look for a pianist soon as you get your dates.  the busy ones will always be busy...!

13. please, accept your own self. after all, you are asking someone else to accept you as who you are that day. one day of practice wont make you break/make the audition.  save your face, fingers, lips, dignity.  you cannot be who you are not.  yes. convoluted, but true. much simpler to be who you are now.

after all, remember, audition is all about finding the right fit.  rather than looking for the best or rejecting the worst, a school is looking for a good fit- would you be happy here? you had an opportunity beforehand to get to know the school, it's now time for school to get to know you. it's just like speed-dating. before you commit to a full-on dinner, do scope one another out, feel out the vibes- would you, could you be happy here? any questions?  and no, they arent into tricking you either. theyve been there. no one is truly evil with conviction.  if things are awkward (ex. you dont have a great answer, sight reading is going terrible, etc), do take a moment and get centered. we all want you to do well!

i am hoping there will be time to catch up on all the writing that ive been dying to do. but this is a start.  best wishes to all who has been on audition tours and may you find a good place- place where you and your peers will be happy to work together. and enjoy it- audition should be an enjoyable experience. after all, what you are doing is simply showing who you are. no one wants 'another' you.  we want to hear about who you are today, not yesterday ('i played this so much better last night) or tomorrow ('only if i had another day!')- we want to know, where could we go together?

much love to all! :)


2.3.13

kapustin: burlesque

video
01.03.13. what a nice day it was! after running around doing auditions, masterclasses and course work, my friend and i decided that it's time to do a wee concert... so we did! and here's a small vid clip from it. nikolai kapustin, a ukrainian composer who does jazz for classical peeps, wrote three very enjoyable works for cello-piano one year (1999) and burlesque is the the most unruly one...

we will be doing the whole set on 22 april tuesday, 2013 at gallery 345- stay tuned! what an exciting adventure...!

2.2.13

dis, quand reviendras-tu?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mi-Nxv8411o&feature=share&list=PLK1gUy8DgcGXPWhdMaa1DlEzvCAFPpSfo

im snug in the mountains today, staying quiet in the blanket of brightest and warmest sun during the day, now surrouned by the dark blue soft curtains of mountain nights- with stars which continue to appear as one continue to gaze into the endless sky.

yesterday was a friday, a peak day in banff centre- friday night concert is a big celebration. it seems somewhat silly to say so, but it really is! people come to the mountains. and artists give little gifts- the gifts of music, given to us from the composers and writers, taken with care and nurtured, now presented if shyly to the audiences, who takes them with child-like eagerness and appreciation.

i was lucky and privileged to take part in the concert- after all, because im here for very very short sojourn, it became really dear to me to play in the rolston hall.  with a guiding help, a lesson on tuesday (what a luxury!), this small monkey, with fluttering heart and sweaty hands, signed up with little wee ravel sonatine.

ravel sonatine is a bizarre work in a sense that it is loved yet it does not get programmed that often. it's relatively short work, each movements absolutely perfect.  perhaps when one is trying to 'prove' to the world, it's not the best work- as if, bang-to-buck ratio is too low! haha.  but i dont have anything to prove i suppose. i picked up this work last autumn when time was difficult and i needed to something to focus on- something beautiful, something nicer than the cruelty of reality. not to escape, but to remind self that existence of brutality confirms need and existence of such transcending beauty.

i came here to the mountains in 2009. like the song 'blackbird,' i learned to open up, fix my broken wings, and after a year, with winter flurries returning to the mountains, i flew back into life. as if i was also 'waiting for this moment to arise.'

and just as i learned to play again here, i was on last night, learning once again to stand by myself, to present, to sing for friends and banff family.

it's the first time i present ravel in a serious venue- ive shyly presented in very small and safe venues. after all, it's still fresh, as me and music still getting to know one another- as i steal tetzlaff's expression: interpretation is the true act of compassion.  im learning to not only to love it, but to also listen and see where the music may want to go- to soar through the night, across the stars.

with unsteady hands and so much wish in my heart- wish that i wanted to please and give something real to people who genuinely loves me, there it was, in public, a blurred ten minutes of my life.

i still have no real clue how it went- it glided and some parts, i soared with it. but as all truly exciting experiences are, it is hard to trust self.  i am curious to hear it tomorrow at the library...

the real special part of the concert, for me, was the later half- shauna rolston performed in rolston hall.  my heart felt for the lady- what an amazing and overwhelming place to be at this time.  the centre is facing big changes- uncertain therefore unnerving.  mr. rolston, who built this place with mrs rolston, recently passed away two years ago... and mrs rolston unfortunately had a medical-related issue which took a great deal of life recently. for shauna, who grew up with the centre and recently had her birthday- i think it wouldve been a big night.

the centre connects people.
the centre gives chances-
for people to be different,
from daily lives.
everyone lives it differently,
but we all agree-
it is magic.
and we all know it.
the great rolston ladies know it.
and the guittarts lives it- with us.

looking into the horizon, im not certain what would take place next. but i am so glad i am here now- the symmetricity,  the sense of closure (for this chapter of banff), inspiration and that magic that i will carry with me till next time...

listening to brad mehldau & anne sofie von otter's love song project, i cannot help but to put one number in repetition- dis, quand reviendras-tu?

the moments will pass, and lost moments- they wont come back...

so im soaking it in this evening. it will be an old story very soon, wee monkey in the cracks of the mountains, playing small, beautiful work, so eager to give something beautiful for banff family, a family that i will carry with my heart. and moments will pass, but no i wont forget- they wont come back, but i will carry them. i will be singing this melody again and again.

because this place is magic.

love to you all. thank you.

-dis, quand reviendras-tu (tell me, when will you return)
dis, au moins le sais-tu (tell me, at least you know)
que tout let temps qui passe (that all time which passes)
ne se rattrape plus... (will never made up again)

(lovely song by monique andree serf, aka. barbara, 1964)
(painting: david grossman, across the dusk and winter, oil, 12 x 16)