Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shanghai, China March 1-June 19 Week 8

The weather has been quite pleasant recently, but I’ve been inside most of the week feverishly preparing for my upcoming residency at National Taiwan University of Arts. I have been asked to deliver three distinct lectures, so I decided on the following topics:
Cross-Cultural Approaches to Composition: a brief historical background to cross-cultural approaches to composition, focusing specifically on works of mine that I refer to as "hybrid soundscapes." A brief discussion of the ethics of cross-cultural composition, an increasingly important topic. 
Japanese Music Today: a discussion of three rubrics of musical activities in Japan that briefly help to understand the development of Japanese music from the 19th-century to the present, and time allowing, conclude with a brief introduction to my compositions as a example of the third category.
     The “East” looking “West”
    The “East” Looking “East”
The “West” Looking “East”
Japan Looking Across Genre Boundaries
Composing for Japanese Instruments: a discussion of my works for Japanese instruments, with special focus paid on how I incorporate traditional Japanese musical aesthetics
It has taken an inordinate amount of time to prepare for these lectures. Although I have presented all of them before in various context and venues, since Chao-Jung Wu, otherwise known as “Zoe”–my host at National Taiwan University of the arts–must prepare a Chinese translation, I prepared not only a detail Keynote presentation, but also lecture notes to guide her. This is one set of presentations where I’ll probably stick to the script in consideration of my interpreter. Putting these presentations together has truly been a cathartic experience for me, as it has forced me to put my ideas into an articulate, “fixed form.” I am hoping these lecture notes can serve as the base for a book or journal article in the future. 
I heard this week that I am one of five participants accepted to the 2011 Gugak Workshop in Seoul, Korea from June 19-July 1. The program consists of lectures on various elements of Korean traditional music and dance and instrumental lessons by renowned professionals. The program covers all expenses, including tuition, hotel, food, and a R/T plane ticket for a modest $200 participation fee. Amazingly, the College Music Society International Conference runs from July 2-10 and I have arranged to study kayagum with Yi Ji-young of CMEK after the conference is over for 2-3 weeks, so this means I will likely spend five weeks in Korea in a wonderfully efficient and fulfilling clockwork schedule. With the R/T plane ticket benefit, this means I won’t even have to foot the bill for my flight back to the USA mainland.

On Saturday, April 23rd I went to a live house concert at M50 Creative Park. It was a wonderful space that evidently produces CDs under the independent label Bandu. It was a concert of contemporary music for the guzheng. I met two friendly Japanese people named Rina and Hirobe and afterwards we went out for some dinner at Simply Thai in Xintiandi. Before the food even arrived I started to feel sick, and realized that whatever I ingested at the live house was aggravating my stomach. I think it was some stale beer–which I thought was apple juice–mixed with carbonated soda. I excused myself for a few minutes during dinner but was probably in the men's room for a good 15-20 minutes. I started sweating profusely and felt gurgling in my stomach. It was so bad at one point I considered asking the restaurant staff to call an ambulance and admit me to an emergency room. I took off most of my clothes and drifted in and out of various states of consciousness. I felt better after a while and returned to the table, but the smell of that delicious food made it worse and within 15 minutes I was in the men's room again. After that I called it quits and begged my newfound friends to take me home, as I wasn’t confident I would survive the taxi ride. We managed to flag down a taxi right away, but the driver was nasty, screaming at us the entire time and insisting that we tell him exactly how far he had to drive along Fuxing Rd. before pulling over. With some drivers it is simply not enough to say, “Please drive straight.” I was very grateful that Hirobe was with me because I wasn’t in the mood to be barked at like a wild animal. Like my food poisoning incident a few weeks ago, I slept a restless night and felt better in the morning, but took it quite easy on solid foods. 

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