28th birthday

I have not spent my two birthdays at FSU in Tallahassee. Last year, I did my first presentation at a student symposium at the University of Florida, and since then I have kept thinking a lot about “what is music analysis.” I still don’t really have an idea of what it is technically, but I will keep searching for a satisfying answer.

This year, I spent my birthday waiting at the Wilkes-Barre Scranton airport, after a night of premiere+performance at Lycoming College. A lot of things could have been done better, but nonetheless I have another thing I can put in my resume. It is also very nice to be able to reach out to a broader audience and hopefully I will have a chance to visit Lyco again. It also surprised me that a public elementary school in the area actually talks about world music instrument, and there is an app for them! (That said, the researcher me wonder why pipa and erhu are the two instruments that are used to represent Chinese music, oh well.)

I definitely enjoy talking to a public audience, I believe that introducing music to them does not need gimmicks, nor lowering the standard of scholarship. It can be as concise as needed, but sometimes a piece of strange knowledge might change someone’s perception of music in a big way.

In my less-than-24-hours stay in Williamsport and surroundings, I do have some great discovery. I enjoy seeing mountains and rivers so much, and it reminds me so much of the European landscape. For sure the architecture somewhat reminds me of that as well. There is something about old American towns that is really charming and unique. I also went to see the World of Little League, and the Steamtown National Site. I think in some way I am really interested in the industrial history of different countries, and how the industries shape an area, with a specific vibe.

Finally, Wegman’s rocks. Who knows that they have the best mochi in the States.

2017 Review

2017 couldn’t have been longer. There are many great things happened but at the same time my stress level couldn’t be higher. I am also discovering myself at  a deeper level, partially because of something that is really awful.

My spring semester at FSU was solely stress if not anything else. The classes I was taking were wearing me down at a very deep level. I was exhausted by the busy work and I was not able to think about things that keep me in graduate school. I have had many moments asking myself if I was doing the right thing. My teaching was going quite well, considering my students realized how much I cared for them. I also start to realize that many students experience things that are out of our imagination, and I become more affirmative that schooling is not the only way that gets them to success. A Star Ferry Ride is performed at the FSU Festival of New Music in February by Dr. Michael Casey and Brett Chittenden, and their performance is absolutely out of the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better interpretation.

I went home in May to take a much-needed break. I feel less and less connected to the city I grew up in, and the atmosphere in the city has changed so much. At the end of the year, when I heard more about the news from the town, and I look at the posts that most of my friends share, I wonder what else we can keep for our culture and city. I also question, why Chinese power like destruction of its own heritage so much? I also spent some time collecting old music scores and recordings of Cantonese music, hopefully some time in the future I can make use of them for some studies.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression during summer, after many sad events. I am not sure if I truly have overcome what happened, but I am feeling stronger in terms of my ability to tackle problems in life.

The fall semester is strange. I decided not to take any theory classes but a private study, and I took up DSP again. I couldn’t have been happier as I do my individual studies, I have a lot of questions to offer, next year I am going to try to make peace with myself. I am once again reminded that DSP is a weird subject. For some unknown reason I can do the math, but I can never truly understand what is going on. I also took a class on medieval notation. It is a rough class, and i kept on asking why people back in those days don’t line up notes. But the last lecture my professor “preached” about how much they have influenced us, and how many questions they were asking are yet re-questioned by us these days. It make me tear up.

My car got towed once and my bike is now gone. Also, while my car did behave well for the whole year, right now its ignition is not working.

I also started the doctoral application process. Heard back from one school, noticed that I completely messed up the formatting of one of the writing samples as I edited (and am still editing), hoping more news would come soon.

2018 would be yet another year of change, but it will be much more exciting.

Sioux Falls and Omaha


住在Sioux Falls, SD的友人早前說要是要探望他就要在六月頭前找他,看看月曆,大約是五月尾最合適了吧。於是定了日子,順道看看Omaha, NE,找找風琴教授。這也是到Florida之前在Midwest的最後一次旅行。

只是…旅程剛開始就出了小意外。小車的Cruise Control失靈了。在高速公路駛了三個小時,在休憩站停泊時發現車有點難剎掣…park了以後引擎竟然開始以極速加速…嚇了一跳之後立刻關掉引擎,幸而車子沒大礙。平伏心情以後通了幾道電話,縮短了旅程(但其實…也許沒關係),再駛到Sioux Falls。IMG_1589

IMG_1585Sioux Falls據說是South Dakota的最大城鎮,但也許那兒比Overland Park更小。大部份主要地方距離Downtown都是在半小時步程之內。Downtown 有很多有特色的小店,但隔兩個街口就已經是金融區。說不上有甚麼特色。但為了見老朋友,足矣。這兒最大的景點大約是Falls Park吧。很明顯地,政府用了很多資源美化這公園,而這兒又真的很美麗。但是水是臭的,走近一點的話衣服就遭殃。IMG_1769

但探他的主要原因是看看Vermillion的National Music Museum。這小小的博物館在音樂圈子裡真的是有名。當中的展品有很多都是很罕見的樂器。有些很古怪,也有些很精緻。然而在這兒看到了一個未被平均律污染的琵琶和「代表香港」的古琴(…),真的是有點意外。但我和朋友最大的問號是:這些樂器很多都沒有機會弄出聲音來了,那不是很可惜麼?然而,一個「音樂博物館」,只有一部Portable Media Player在門口的gift shop播著用上其中一部fortepiano來錄製的CD,音樂的原素在哪?

回程是短暫留在Omaha,本來這應該是要多留一點時間的一站,但IMG_1997不同原因之下我只是留了幾個小時。教授載我四處走,才知道Warren Buffett就是在Omaha,而且他和太太和Buffett有過一面之緣。Omaha和Lincoln也給我很相似的印象-舊區很有工業的餘韻,而藝術在這兒很蓬勃。而Omaha也開始起飛了吧。對比起Kansas City,60-70年代的建築在這兒還是主數,但新式建築也在慢慢增加。

IMG_1884教授太太在St. Cecilia Cathedral工作,然而在這音樂主保的主教座堂,又怎會沒有音樂學校。那規模有點誇張。座堂裡的風琴也是很特別的一部琴。IMG_1888Pasi在設計時,把Well-tempered stops和mean tone stops設計在一起,所以風琴師可以按喜好用不同的調律演奏。一直覺得音律這回事很複雜,而它真的是很複雜,但聽起來,well-tempered和mean tone的確是兩回事,pure thirds聽起來真的很舒服。但限制也太多了。它…就留在復古的東西吧。

我在Omaha Zoo逗留了一會。魚還是我最愛的動物。其他展館真的不俗,但我真的沒太大興趣。這些日子很多友人貼了不少反對開設動物園的東西。我明白。看著動物們在有限、虛擬的空間生活實在令人不忍。但是,城市的小孩,沒有了動物園,畏首畏尾的家長們會讓孩子接近大自然麼?孩子們不看見這Biodiversity,會相信牠們處於危機麼?



Hon Ki, BMus in Composition, Organ and Theory


I really wasn’t planning on attending any of the commencement festivities, but Dr. Pierce said he needed to take a photo with me at the convocation, that’s why I have to be there. Receiving the notice of me graduating with distinction also surprised me a little. I thought about buying all those fancy ribbon and cords from Phi Kappa Phi, but eventually I forgot about it, but I still have a little something to decorate my black gown.

Anyways, I can say I am done with undergrad finally, (almost) officially. When Dr. Bergee said, “Your life will no longer be the same,” as I walked through the stage, it warmed my heart. Leaving KU is just the beginning a very long journey. I look forward to write a lot more music.

I don’t know how many times I thought about giving up and return to engineering in the last 4 years. How drastic my mind had changed every semester, this ride was really, really bumpy. At the same time, I totally felt that my physical energy is not as strong as I was when I was an engineer. I grew old, a little. I also realised that there are many facets of life, my world shouldn’t only be about work. I have to take care of myself, my family, my interests, and people I care.


And as always, Eurovision is such an important end-of-semester show for me. I like how the show is organized, and seeing Globen and the sights of Stockholm reminded me of the wonderful place and all the amazing experiences, as it opened once again my door to music and ignited my desire for explorations. How much I wish I could be there once again. While Ukraine got its crown in a rather drastic way (well, I really thought the EBU was trying to avoid the ESC going to Australia, after all), I am glad that they provided the world such a profound sound. Ukraine is the other place that had a profound impact on me, thanks to my church choir in Sweden which organized its annual trip to the painful country.

So much places for me to see and experience, too many things to write about and reflect on.






在western civilization的課上,老師每天也問What happened?很多時同學也在說和美國有關的事,有天忍不住向他們說著公民廣場的事。最近有同學提起了釣魚台的新聞,終於,他們對美國以外的東西有了興趣。但他們的理解還是很片面,來龍去脈全不知道。教授這刻就會問我,究竟這是甚麼一回事兒。我說不上很清楚,但最少,我有能力向他們展示東方的樣子。

另外,我也重新開始了toastmasters的旅程。我選擇了Storytelling Proj. 2作第一個advanced speech。某程度是一個「高級」的自我介紹吧。這得到了很好的回響。他們對我這種香港式toastmaster訓練出來的speech感到很不同,加上我的”British accent”很好聽。這個肯定更讓我知道我堅持要保留自己的特色是沒錯的。

但在見工的時候,advisor說我有french accent….我倒不知道這從何而來。

我也找到了一份on campus的工作,我準備做一個物理和數學的導師。說真的,薪酬很低很低,但,我還算是教大學的課程了吧。而且每天都是對著文字和音符,倒真的很想念以前每天面對數字、程式和diagrams的時光。用這份工作調劑一下生活也算不錯。


昨天彈studio class,其實自問已經準備得很好,雖然臨表演前一課還是做了不少修改。到真正上場是很多東西都很亂,也很怯。加上鋼琴老師也在說我在點膽怯,很多時是心理因素弄得彈得不清楚。看來,我還是要快點克服心理這大關。

這個多月來愈來愈覺得自己身體不聽話了。昨晚練鋼琴以後終於忍不住要去玩,去了游泳。天,我四肢完全沒力了,氣量倒是還可以。看來真的要多點動一下了。而在gym的receptionist竟在看但丁,令我忍不住搭了訕。一個修讀communication and italian的學生,和一個音樂學生在運動學大樓說意大利文學,怪。



當年做番薯人覺得迎新很累,也不喜歡四處都很多人、做很多無聊事的感覺。現在做第二次番薯人,幸運的是這兒的迎新活動(除了必需的入學手續)都是自願參與的。對比起來已算是舒服一點。然而真正的welcoming week在開學週才開始呢…

Lawrence的人都很友善,在校園裡外買東西還是只是路過都會聽到別人問候”How’s your day?”,昨早在kansas union門外看到兩個工人在拆舞台,但也會和路人問安,我又順便寒暄幾句。巴士司機也是談天的對象,懶理安全了。教授也是很好的人,他是個很忙的人,但會和我說”Tell me when you have questions, not only in studies, everything”。呃。


我在音樂學院考了placement,本以為在只有這麼短時間,教授會要我們分析和聲就算了,怎料還是要我們自由發揮。聽音也不算太難…只是太久沒做過聽音,有點慌張。結果倒是意料之中帶點意外,教授竟說我的聽音”quite good”,但很強調我沒有完成寫和聲那兒的要求。看到電郵時心裡痛了一下。piano literacy很輕易考過了,只是這兒的三角琴也很老…@@


我選擇住在scholarship hall,因為這兒是communal living,大家分工處理宿舍的工作,而且租金比一般宿舍便宜一點點。這些宿舍也有很多傳統,理論上是令宿生有更多的聯繫,有很深厚的感情。這短短時間看到一些活動,我覺得是對新生來說會是很好玩的,我也很尊重這些活動。但,我不是”normal freshmen”了,加上練琴的時間長,我不會花甚麼時間在宿舍裡去。而且,”Hall life”裡面的socialization,還不太是我喜歡的東西。倒是很懷念Kungshamra的日子,十多人在corridor rooms,有點點是communal,大家輪流清潔廚房,有空才坐下來討論很深入的東西、搞一次corridor dinner。而不像在schol hall這種必需性的社交。就算在伯宿,也不需要像現在一般每天都要見著同一班人。


KU有很多traditions,這個welcoming week的頭炮-block party,雖說是party,但其實是give-away day,在食堂有無限的零食和試食派發、書店也有幸運輪,也有免費保齡等。到第二天的traditions night,就是把學校口號、歷史作介紹的晚上。這些都是很有意思也很感受到KU campus life and spirits的活動。難怪教授叫我可以的話盡量多去參與了。

明天就要開學,但待會兒才進行choir audition,晚上就是convocation。完了late night dish washing之後要好好休息去。



30/06/11 Jomala St. Olofs Kyrka Konsert med Janne Schaffer och Markus Wargh

第一個驚喜是管風琴和電結他的現場即興。我的老師在Örebro時和Mats Norrefalk出過一張同樣的專輯,那時的感覺還不算太大。在現場聽了這種合奏時感覺倒是很新鮮。這場音樂會選曲很廣泛,從巴赫到貓王也有。而配器上面,兩者的角色有很大變化,一時可以是互相呼應,有時則可突顯主題。教堂的Acoustic也為這個配搭加添不少分數:風琴的聲音很有個性,而電結他Amplifier的聲音則顯得很柔和,混和起來並沒有刺耳或突兀的感覺。當中我最熟悉也是最喜愛的一首是Can’t help falling in love,電結他在這首歌的演繹可有錦上添花之效。管風琴本身為這作品加上了宏偉、莊嚴的感覺,就像身處婚禮之中,電結他深情的演奏著旋律和變奏, 那時教堂洋溢著幸福的氣氛。
另一個驚喜是Markus的即興演奏。也許是北歐人對大自然真的有一份鍾愛,他的演奏也是使用了很多大自然的聲音。其中最深刻的是利用風琴的Short pipes扮成雀鳥鳴叫的聲音。這時管風琴一點也不笨重不嚴肅,聲音就這樣輕盈地在教堂內飛行著。

01/07/2011 Mariehamn St. Görans Kyrka Bach vid lunchtid med Matthias Giesen




01/07/2011 Lemland Sta Birgitta Kyrka med Jerome Faucheur
Lemland擁有奧蘭裡最新的風琴,是2008年由德國Paschen Kiel製造。聽這天演奏的教授說,這琴很不錯,但就是沒有性格。他們在說這公司的風琴就像在工廠生產出來,去到哪兒音色也一樣。我對管風琴的建造沒有認識,但聽他們這樣評價一部琴倒是覺得很不可思議:一直以來我認識的管風琴都應該是訂制的-建造者要根據教堂/音樂廳的特色選擇音栓和排列管子。現在的科技竟發達得可以把這樂器變到失去了其獨一無二的個性,這真的令我有點驚訝。

02/07/2011 Sund St. Johannes Döparens Kyrka med Alessandro Bianchi


另一個很有野心的原因…大部分作品到了最後…也是變成了Full Organ…