Thursday, February 17, 2011

Honolulu, HI – 1/31-2/18 Week 3

On Saturday, February 12th, I got up early and made my way down to Market City to attend a performance by the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble. For Honolulu, the temperature was quite high and I did not envy those poor performers banging away at their drums non-stop for 25+ minutes. Mercifully, a tent was set up to shield them from the blazing sun. Spectators were not so lucky!

The Kenny Endo Ensemble in performance

In the afternoon, I did something I've been wanting to do for quite a while. I went to see a Met HD opera  broadcast. I'm not an opera, so I would not have gone if I wasn't interested in the work being broadcast for some personal reason. Well, this week it was the Met premiere of Nixon in China. I attended the Paris premiere of this opera 20 years ago in 1991. John Adams had played an influential role in my development as composer primarily because his music gave me strength and courage to realize that it was possible to make contributions to the field of contemporary music without aspiring to be the next Anton Webern. I was in Paris the week before Christmas, right after a semester spent studying in London at in the Danenburg Oberlin in London program. I actually stayed afterwards and introduced myself to Adams, and the father of one of best friends in college, John Duykers. At this time in my life, for some reason I thought I would never have an opportunity to travel abroad again! 

The tickets for the Met HD were a whopping $24, but I suppose this is a bargain compared to tickets for the Met, not to mention the added expense mid-town Manhattan parking! The theater was so packed there were some audience members sitting on the floor! It was quite nostalgic to see the opera again, although I would think for this type of broadcast the theater would have invested more time and care to make sure that the speakers were set up correctly. The sound quality was thin and un-balanced, and the volume to low to really enjoy the music. Still, I am glad to have had the experience, and hope to enjoy the Met HD in another city someday.

In the evening, I made my way to a potluck dinner welcoming the ethno department's guest for the week, Morin spike fiddle performer Li Bo

UH flyer promoting Li Bo's residence events

On Sunday morning (February 13th), I took a lesson with him! It was much more difficult to produce a balanced tone than I imagined, and my fingernails really hurt after the lesson. Like other instruments I have studied, the purpose was not to become a professional performer, but rather understand basic technique so that I can feel confident composing for the instrument. Originally from Mongolia, Li Bo has lived in Tokyo for 16+ years and speaks Japanese quite well, so we had no problems communicating. 

Mongolian spike fiddle lesson with Li Bo

In the afternoon, I attended a UH dance recital entitled dancing greener," where "the word recycle was dropped in the creative hopper of each choreographer, director, and designer to serve as inspiration." (adapted from program). I was especially impressed with the music and set design for the first piece on the program, Debris Fantasy, a manifestation of a strange dream about trash coming to life. In the evening, I met with the "shakuhachi gang," and after catching up and playing show and tell with our flutes, Bob Herr took out his shakuhachi duets and trios and we had a blast sight reading through them. 
Promotional photo of Li Bo
Reading through quartets and trios with the "shakuhachi gang"

On Monday, the activities related to Li Bo's visit culminated with lecture/performance demonstration in the Music Dept. I am happy to say that his presence brought in a wide demographic. There were students and faculty from composition and ethnomusicology, as well as Chinese and Asian Studies. Charlotte D'Evelyn did a stellar job at translating for him, and he played a number of pieces that highlighted the expressive and technical potential of this instrument.
Charlotte D'Evelyn (l) and Li Bo (r)

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