This was an amazing day.
Truly one of the best HK days for many years with all the aspects of my work here connecting. I learnt so much about myself today as well as having deep conversations about truth, connection, music and culture - and just having a great time!
It started at 9am with Albert So - coffee and a croissant with a man who I knew nothing about but who had been connected to me by Derek Mathews, the conductor of the Lancaster Male Voice Choir! It turns out that the two of them share a passion and great interest in Feng Shui and have both written books on the subject. Derek is apparently a world expert!
Albert is an electronic engineer and the conversation goes onto his passion for paranormal research (electronic) and the paper that he and Derek have written about the depth of feeling that is conveyed in Cantonese Opera because of the use of both high and low voices (in contrast to Beijing and Guangzhou Opera that just exist in a higher register). We then go onto his passion for classical Chinese literature and poetry and the concept of the 'couplet'. He shows me some couplets he has written and I gain a new understanding of this complex, beautiful and very old form of writing. It is now 10.15 and my mind is somewhat blown!
I move onto my next meeting considering Feng Shui and Community Music and how our practice is all about creating space for the 'chi' to flow. I can see a new book to parallel 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. It is called 'Feng Shui and the Art of Community Music'.
I meet Samson Wong for a final interview in support of his PhD thesis on Community Arts and Wellbeing. He asks me about my own personal learning journey and I go back to think about my early piano lessons with Tamara Osborn, school learning, the personal popular music discovery in my teens, my BA at Southampton and then the many years of learning through doing. Finally we talk about my relationship to mentors John Fox, Boris Howarth and Adrian Mitchell. The conversation is significant and helps me remember key points in the development of my artistic and facilitation practice.
Next stop the RTHK studios to record an hour long show with Nancy Loo (Samson mother-in-law and a very famous concert pianist).
She is a regular broadcaster and this will go out in a couple of weeks. I have prepared some tracks to play and also brought my melodeon so I can sing a song. We talk and prepare the conversation as the tech sets up mikes around the piano so I can also do a tune there! The interview starts with my one man band song
Roll up for the music
Roll up for the show
12 12 123 Ready steady go...
and then we talk about childhood, my father and his piano playing and my early learning, about our 2 grandchildren and the importance of 'playing' - sitting at the piano and letting them play - even walk on the keys. We have a very similar sense of how we feel music should be taught and interact with society. She works a great deal in prisons bringing music and culture to inmates. The interview moves onto my later life and we play Bach, Brahms, The Beatles and I record Adrian Mitchell's Peace Round
before we round off with One Man Band recordings from the street. Wow!Off on the MTR now to China University to meet Oscar Ho and talk about the Umbrellas songs and how we can attach them to his curated exhibitions that are touring Europe and the US. Eric joins us and the plans are started - he now has to raise the money. The aspirateion is to take some HK musicians to New England to perform for the opening of the exhibition there in May. Next to the space where I will lead my early evening workshop for students studying his Community Arts Management course. I tell stories, sing songs, make music with them and then we have a fascinating 40 minute conversation with great questions coming from the group.
How do you know you have made a difference?
What is the approach when you first connect with a community?
What is the difference between working in HK, mainland China and the UK?
Finally I head to Kowloon Tong to meet my old songwriter friend Jone Chui to go out for some food.
He excels himself in the choice of a great Thai veggie place in Kowloon City followed by classic HK deserts in an old fashioned sweet shop. We share stories of children, grandchildren (mine), professional work, cycling and performing before going to a studio where he has to record some backing vocals on a song of his recorded by a famous singer, Hins.
I sit in the studio and make friends with the engineer, producer, arranger and the singer himself. By 12.30am I am ready to go and so off back home with a lift from Jone to my little air bnb.