night thought for the day

nights come quietly in the mountains.

with trails of silver mist and fairest snow flakes, the dusk falls on the fragments of the day's sun- and without any announcement, it is here- night.

in 2009, for both residencies, i was fortunate to have late practice buddies.  we mainly left notes on one another's doors, encouraging, nudging and joking all the way through the night, looking into this craft of arts, hoping to get closer to it, as the air cooled and the stars came up.

after all these time, here i am once again, writing in the night, surrounded by big, monumental mountains. elemental. primeval.  though this time, the stay is short and i am night-buddy-less. that's alright- especially in company of greats such as mozart, poulenc...

today i witnessed live arts- at the mid week series @ rolston hall. the residents show themselves to the public in many different concerts here- self-directed concerts, midweek wednesday concert, the big friday concert and yes, canmore bi-weekly, to name a few.  some are shy, some are slightly anxious.  a few bold ones as well. the audience is always ecstatic.

coming from the school/institution environment, i was refreshed about 'what (we try to) do.'  people who comes to the residencies are slightly abnormal i think.  people who are willing to ditch the daily pressure of- whatever it may be- the chains of obligations. we leave all of that to come here. that makes this place perhaps greatly artificial. but this change is amazing in a sense that it opens different channels of individuals.  and yes, it is easily perceivable in performances, conversations and interactions.

but perhaps the most important thing of today may be the conversation with caretaker kiddo who shyly opened the door to help (me) tidy my studio.

she somehow had a hint of sorrow in her beautiful doe eyes.

how are you doing, little lady?

slowly the stories came.  over eight years of love, she left it.  and came another- alas, she had to leave that after a lengthy period of questions and sadness.  she is in banff, trying to figure it all out. one day at a time. she likes being here because she is surrounded by beautiful things (music, visual arts, dance-) and that even though she's just a worker, that she could also make 'art' by putting herself into her tasks, however mundane it may appear to be. but once in awhile she thinks of these great experiences of her life and it can hurt-

lady, you and us, all of us.

we all live with trials and failures.  losses beyond words that lingers throughout our short lives. i cant say i understand but i dare try to sympathize.  however, let's not lose the hope- we live at the present. one day at a time. perhaps a heavy heart today. may be it will lift. even if it were to stay for a bit, at least we still have hearts.  and yes, hearts do demand great things from soft flesh- however, through such expenses, we can be richer and beautiful- truly living, with humour, sense of acceptance and eyes open for the simple beauty that surrounds us.

big tears.

tis fine. one day at a time.

so here i am, in the quiet night mountain, listening to mozart's gran partita (which i deem as one of the greatest compositions ever) as i was missing the voices of woodwinds (none here at the moment), contemplating the answerless question: how shall i live today?

the big blanket of velvety blue is now speckled with brightest stars.

perhaps it's alright that i cannot answer this today.
may be it is time to dissipate the day.
with the melody of the oboe soaring through time and space, bidding you all good day with much love from this wee monkey, barely visible in midst of great mountains and great people.
i am happy here. i hope you are also happy this moment.


second birth place!

yep. banff centre. frozen winter beauty. cannot be happier.

after finishing my doctoral degree, i went and got a job at the local starbucks. i thought music business is too complicated, politically draining and the rate of success is abysmal.

a kind soul saw that and threw me across the country half way to the banff centre for arts, to play the piano for the residency program participants.

for most of year 2009, i was here, in the mountains, relearning about self- about what music is, who i am, what makes me happy, what i can and cannot to, etc.  after three residencies (winter, summer and fall), i was a new person. a new person with new family- yes, we are far apart most of the time, but the connections are real. this is where the magic happens.

i am here for a very very short visit, just short of ten days.

and being here makes me feel as if ive been punched on the stomach. so many vivid memories, thoughts, recollections, ideas, inspirations, all things that makes a human being jump on feet with joy (fibrillating).  if i had a tail, it would be thumping on the ground with total abandon.

like salmons coming back to its birthplace.  i am not going to die, unlike the fishes.  however, i know that i will be transformed once more by the time i get on the bus again.  it was quite demanding journey getting back here- (though i had generous help of many friends!). but often, one gets through the upstream not because one chooses to, but because one needs to.

the centre may change drastically after this semester. no one really knows.  as one of wee kiddies who had their growth spurt here, i was desperate to get back. and lucky me, here i am.

thank you life...
thank you banff family...

looking forward the wonderful days if short!
and love to all my banff family.
you guys are all in my thoughts, constantly. every corner.
after all, im small and fragile, not anything really exciting.
but through dovetails of your lives that you so generously share, i am richer, better and happier.
what more could one ask for?

tomorrow, the blue heron lady comes for a visit.
oh boy. wag wag thump thump.

monkeying around january

it's been a real busy period since i came back from lazy, stretched-out, belly-scratching winter break in the hazy hills of uk (saturated with rain, of course...); not that i was suffering! i was quite excited to get back into it.  you see, i believe in 'leaving things faraway' at times- just like that gigantic lindt chocolate bar, it's always better when you come back to it (rather than hogging it all throughout to the end)

after the week of semi-calm (pressed and stained with many notes and administrative stuff), wknd of 19/20 january was an eventful one:

1.  utoronto symphony orchestra concerto competition- i accompanied five hard working kiddies. i am proud to say two of them not only made it to the final, but they are the winners- congrats to mike dassios (clarinet) performing nielsen clarinet concerto and biancak chambul (bassoon) performing mozart concerto.  it always is a great feeling. not to forget that little young lady ms. luzin had one of the panel members rather surprised with her progress in short five days! (we played her concerto on monday's studio class and she went and WORKED it. it was so much improved! i want to be that efficient- admirable!)

2.  clarinet masterclass with richie hawley from texas (he won principle of cinccinnati symphony at tender age in early 20s, ridiculous), playing for two great kids from glenn gould school- the francaix was a challenge to learn in a short time and schumann required much more thought as we progressed. however, both performed beautifully and i was happy to be part of it.

3.  berio sequenza extravaganza: i was playing for talented guy few for sequenza X for the trumpet, which calls for all kinds of 'silent' open playing- the trumpeter projects sound into the piano and it's amped to pick up the resonance- which involved two pedals and carefully placed big intervals with fingers- none of them should ever make a sound! which is harder to do than it seems. who wouldve thought it takes so much effort to be silent. when i told my parents i was playing 'silent' piano, they asked if it's hard... and i was stuck on what to say- well, momdad, if it is hard to sound all the right things, it must be hard to also not sound all the right things? hahaha.   i was also part of the backstage team, so that ate a good chunk of the wknd...

4.  filling in for the kieser prize concert for university of toronto:  last minute decision was made to substitute a solo piano work by the guest composer of the new music festival this year, steven mackey.  i was approached to learn the cadenza of his piano concerto, stumble to grace (2011).  it's great. AWESOME.  it's got pulse, a real sense of -life, of reaching, progressing, rhythmic and beautiful resonance.

so good that i immediately start to wonder if i could do actually do it.
(what a bad idea to approach such music....!)

receive score, print on monday, meet the composer on tuesday, worry and practice through wed and thurs, then abandon unreasonable hope on friday and play.

this abandon unreasonable hope thing is awesome i think.

we worry constantly.
well, i do.

most worries involve 'trying to be someone else-' including: being better, smarter, more charismatic, intelligent, anything, anything that is not actually 'me' at the moment.  the idea of having a goal is useful, however, destroying the 'self' of the moment- that is detrimental.  bottomless pit of worries and self-explosion (of the worst kind).

however, i am learning, albeit slowly.

once i give up the notion of '-should be something else,'  may be i can just be self.  self changes throughout life.  self evolves. self does not have to be subjected to a cold, final, absolute evaluation- self just need to be accepted and let live.

i dont really have a great recollection of how it all went, however, i do understand that people did enjoy it.  mr mackey was happy. new music fest profs were happy. well. that's a good sign.

i listened to the recording from the concert. immediately i found of all the things i wanted to do but did not do.

then i stopped.
listened to it again.

though there were things that i wished to execute better (as most cases), i think i enjoyed it.  yes, sir and madam, i did enjoy that music. even when i was worried. even when i was missing things. even when i could not monitor as my slow head was so busy trying form ideas to physicality.

'process.'  one needs to process and progress. progress never means 'betterment' or 'change,' just different. and if one can see what one wishes to do, perhaps one needs to accept the 'seeing' self as well. without the 'seeing' self, there would be no 'executing' self, which means there will be no progress/change.  stagnant. dead.

hence, stumbling to grace, literally, this project was the RIGHT thing to end this hectic period- such a high note.  to enjoy oneself through great thoughts of another, thoughts that are genuine, real and beautiful so that others may gain entry to another's life experience- which, in a weird sense, are shared among us, as part of humanism.  and having that enjoyment accepted by others is truly one of the best things. in fact we call it 'celebration'- quite similar to weddings, graduations, parties, we are simply celebrating.

with such gift from mr mackey and profs who trusted me for a rush project, guess where i flew to...


yes yes i think i am a lucky one.
banff notes coming up soon! :)
meanwhile, love to everyone. sorry ive been a quiet ranter.  may be you enjoyed the silence though! greets with fresh mountain wind and snow.


for a friend. for myself.

(adolphe willette, pierrot dances beneath the moon; detail of cartoon frm le chat noir, jan 17, 1885)

 ...i suppose the weight of- or rather, the emptiness of (departed life friend) weighs heavy on your heart on such times. it does make me curious to think why or how the weather does it.

toronto's been covered in snow and it does funny things to my heart, especially with he space i keep for my brother. like empty corner in a busy room, it often gets cluttered with other things, however, it is always there. just for him.

the moon does it as well (darn you moon!) for me- i was in charge of getting him back home (he died far away in west coast) and helping fam with funeral, i didnt really have the room to break things down and depressurize. but it did come, couple weeks later, in june, in full moon.

and as it approaches another full moon on 26th, i quietly clean away that corner again, so i may sit in the middle of it and let thoughts of him sit with me still. it is unavoidable. it cannot be helped. however i may find it joyous at times, that i still have my brother so close to my heart. no matter how clustered life gets around me. that he's afresh, anew and perhaps more living in my mind than he could ever have thought possible.

sending you warmest greetings. as life often gets better with simplest gestures. with many thoughts, small monkey


*will be back soon!

dearest blog, i am sorry ive been away for so long!
it's been absolutely crazy and i have so many stories, pictures and thoughts-
perhaps we will get a change to catch up when i am back in the mountains this saturday.
but yes, you are still in my mind (and yes, you, readers)

hope everyone's having a grand start to year 2013-
and yes, it's still january- fly high with hopes,
much love to all!!