Showing posts with label Lucille Chung. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lucille Chung. Show all posts

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Blog Entry on the Huffington Post

I was asked to write a blog for the prestigious Huffington Post on a beloved piece of mine: Stravinsky's Petrouchka. I have had a love affair with this fantastic work since I was a little boy. It was great to put into words years and years of emotions.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cruising Along....

Lucille and I were recently invited to join a group from the stellar Verbier Festival on board of the ultra-luxurious MSEuropa cruise ship. The cruise went from Dubai to Istanbul, but we had to get off at Sharm-el-Sheik because of prior commitments. It was our first cruise ever. Being extremely prone to sea-sickness I never dreamed to go on a cruise, but this opportunity seemed just too good to pass.
We joined a fantastic team of musicians on board, pianists Yevgeny Sudbin, and his wife Sally Wei, violinist Sayaka Shoji, violist David Aaron Carpenter and cellist Adrian Brendel. Verbier Festival director, Martin Engstroem and his lovely wife, violinist Blythe Teh joined us at the beginning of the cruise. The relationships you can create when stuck in a place for a long time are nothing short of exceptional and we made some wonderful friends.
The ship was fantastic, the sights stunning, but at the end of the day, as it usually happens, it came down to friendship, playing wonderful music together and simply just having a good old time.
For a link to my cruise pictures click here

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An Amazing Journey, and gut feelings.....

Here we are, unbelievably, at the end of the Canadian Prairies Tour for Prairie Debut. We started in October, went back in December and now, for the last and longest leg, in February/March for 11 concerts in 12 days. Tonight, in Brandon, Manitoba, Lucille and I will play the last concert, our 25th event on this long tour. We gave a masterclass this morning at Brandon University, hosted by pianist Michael Kim, in which we heard six young promising students in a variety of repertoire.
Tomorrow we'll drive two and a half hours to Winnipeg airport, catch a flight to Toronto, then one to La Guardia and will be home, yes home, at night. Two days at home and we're off again to Italy, France, Lucille goes to Morocco and I go to Michigan. Yes, we'll have our beloved crazy life back.
Not that touring the prairies of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba was not crazy...
This last segment was very intense, with concert after concert, and long travels in between, but we had an advantage this time. Wonderful Lynne Bailey, Praire Debut's executive director came along and drove us everywhere. Not having to worry about where to go, when to leave, where to park etc... made things so much easier. It was really a blessing to have her with us on this long stretch. She drove about 2500km all together, and I have to say she kept spirits high throughout the trip.
Also, having Lynn drive us meant that I was free to bring my big DSLR along and indulge in one of my hobbies. I took about 300 pictures, mainly of white snow, immense plains, and unbelievable sky. We've never seen such sky in our lives, and so much of it. I will edit the pictures as soon as possible and post a link on this blog, so I can share this amazing experience with others.
Day after day, we met the most amazing and generous people, in bigger cities, and tiny communities. Once again music was the great unifier.
I have extensively chronicled a very different voyage through Russia and across Siberia HERE.
Yes it was a very different trip, but once on stage everything is always the same. In front of music we are all equal, and I do firmly believe that deep down, at a very basic level, people react to music in the exact same way. Education does play a major role in understanding music, but when I think of the gut feelings that great music triggers, I have discovered that people in New York react in the same way that audiences in Khabarovsk, Chita, Ulan-Ude,  Luseland, Weyburn or Snow Lake. Only after that, a series of "learned" concepts filters the music and lets us appreciate it and understand it to a higher or lesser degree.
Sometimes I do think that the "gut feeling" is really what it's all about though, and what needs to prevail.
If there is something I've learnt from these various self-imposed musical "expeditions" of the last few years (two Trans-Siberian tours and three Canadian Prairies tours), this is precisely it.
An invaluable lesson of what is REALLY important, in music, or life for that matter, and what at the end of the day our  ultimate goal should be in music making. Beauty, simplicity, immediacy is what makes music so universal. I've been lucky to experience that feeling in some of the most remote corners of the globe and see first hand the amazing effect that music has on people. No matter how long we work on every single minuscule detail, we should never forget that gut feeling, that visceral emotion that inhabits great music and is able to touch every soul in the exact same way, regardless of geographical, religious or cultural differences.

Pictures of a lot of sky coming soon.......

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's been a while: a mid-summer night's story

It's been a while since my last post. It's about 1230am now, but summer is going by so fast that I suddenly felt the need to jot the first part of it down.
This is a wonderfully hectic summer. Six festivals, a Rachmaninov Solo CD for Signum, a three-week long tour of Japan, a couple of recitals and a concerto performance are just the musical part of this crazy summer. Lucille and I also sold our condo in New York last month and just moved to a brand new one fives blocks away. Two separate trips to Asia and two to Europe are somehow providing me with lots of hours of much needed mental rest on the plane. As it happens,  I had to fly from Wales to NYC for two nights to close on our sale and move all our belongings (including two pianos!) to storage, then went on to my Japan tour and three weeks later started rehearsals in Fort Worth. Lucille managed among many difficulties, and performances (including a Mozart recording for Universal) to close on our purchase of the new condo AND move in during her two day stay in New York. She then joined me to the Mimir Chamber Festival in Fort Worth. We just got back to NYC and are unpacking. It's really exciting. I am looking forward to lots of dinner parties.

I was really happy to be back at beautiful Schloss Elmau, in Bavaria for the second time.  It is really heaven on earth! This time I put together  three concerts with Lucille, and my friends (and amazing musicians) Nicolas Alstaedt and Joseph Lin. We really had a great time playing wonderful music, enjoying the spectacular surroundings and taking full advantage of the most beautiful spa I have ever seen. Highly recommended!

I am really excited also about the new Rachmaninov recording for Signum Records. We chose the beautiful facilities at Wyastone, in Wales, for this project, and I couldn't have been happier. My producer Anna Barry and Mike Hatch were their amazing selves. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them on my last three recordings, starting with Warner Classics' Baroque Reflections. It went so well that we finished the recording early. I can't wait to hear the final edit, and for the  recording to be out next year! It will feature the complete preludes op. 23, quite a few transcriptions (including my own version of Vocalise), and a rarity: some charming student works by Rachmaninov.

I then moved out of our old place and  I got ready for the long tour in Japan with violinist Sayako Kusaka, an old friend from my SMU, who is now concertmaster of the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra.  We played three programs, including my first ever Franck Sonata (!) among other things. But the highlight of the tour for me was performing  Busoni's amazing Second Violin Sonata. It is such a special, unique and powerful work, and it was a pleasure to perform it in such great concert halls and on great pianos with her.
I thing I have probably been to Japan about 15-20 times, but this summer I finally had time to visit Tsukiji, Tokyo's famous fish market for the first time. Our tour manager picked us up at 330am to be in line for the tuna auction at 4. It was really an amazing experience. Of course the 6am  sushi omakase at the market was the best part! I also had the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Nara, Japan's oldest, and to meet a lot of warm people all over Japan. All in all it was a great trip, and a very unusual one, since  I had a bit of free time and met with a few friends while in Tokyo! I have to confess that Tokyo has become over the years one of my favorite destinations. I can't wait to go back!

A yearly summer appointment, the Mimir Festival in Fort Worth, followed Japan right away. This was a fun year, as I was playing two amazing works. Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time (it was my first performance ever!) and Korngold's Suite for two violins, cello and piano left hand alone! Mimir is always a lot of fun, and after about ten years, I feel like I know a lot of the audience, and that we are all a big family. 

Now, I am back in NYC, in my beautiful new home, and with Lucille. Off to Westport, CT, for a four hand concert with Lucille on July 24th , then back home and off to Menlo for my debut at the wonderful Music@Menlo Festival. At that point, musically, I will only be half way through my summer. It's going to be a long and wonderful one!