Monday, October 17, 2011

Illényi Katica Again

Realised just now that I'd shown the violinist side of Illényi Katica but not her singer side.  Here we go:

Can't stop watching her videos.  What a talented and stunningly beautiful elegant woman.

Three Beautiful Talented Women Who Can Sing and Play an Instrument

Eva Cassidy

(The above is a snapshot of Eva's performance at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., where she regularly performed.  Live at Blues Alley, a classic already, is the only live recording of her.

Illényi Katica

Lori Lieberman

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Into the Wild (2)

The kids are back from the wild.  Covered in mud and completely exhausted though, they are all full of joy and pride.

The parents, lining up in front of the main gate and welcoming them as if they are soldiers returning from a war, are more happy and proud.  You may think we are over-reacting.  But if you are in Hong Kong you should know the weather that we are now having.  Wind, rain, lots of wind and more rain.  In the last few days, the kids hiked with their gears in downpour and spent their night in the open with nothing but a plastic sheet over their heads and another plastic sheet beneath their sleeping beds.  They were cold and wet but their spirits remained high.  The kids from an ESF school left after the first night (and they got tents!).  So did the kids from Guangzhou.  But the ISF kids marched on, faced the rain, ate their soaked bread, took care of each other, looked for the right branches to make their rain shelters...

"I feel for the refugees", "Four walls and a roof are so precious", "My legs shook uncontrollably when I reached the camp site", "I was so happy to have reached the top of the mountain. It's beyond words", "Sai Kung looks even more beautiful in rain", "The raft broke in the sea", the kids just can't wait to share their experiences.

"They have grown so much in just a few days. You have to see it to believe it", a teacher who went with them said.

A big thank you to the teachers and trainers from Outward Bound.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Into the Wild

October is always a month blessed with nice weather.  It also marks the beginning of the hiking season.  Not this year.  A strong easterly monsoon, a broad area of low pressure and a tropical depression over the Western Pacific are working together to bring us a lot of rain and strong wind.

After learning the lives and writings of Voltaire, John Locke and William Wilberforce in their humanity class in the comfort of an air-conditioned classroom, the Grade 8 ISF kids are out in the wild to experience the fears, feelings and life of a refugee.  This year annual camping (called experimental training) is designed to be tough and meant to let the kids have a taste of the life of a refugee.  On day one, after visting Christian Action Workshop, a service development for ethnic minority residents in Hong Kong, the kids are bused to Sai Kung and spend their first night in some makeshift shelters (no tents, just a few plastic sheets).  They have to cook their own food with some very basic stuff.  On day two, the "refugee simulation" continues, they will hike to no.19A campsite and spend the night in the wild.  On day three, they will experience a "shipwreck" - raft building at AYP Water Sports Centre and rafting to BGCA Bradbury Camp, followed by further hike to HK Adventure Corps camp at High Island Reservoir.  On day four the last day, they will have some group sharing and do their "Life Run", mini solo presentation, with a human rights theme.

Rain and wind outside.  Am I worried?  Not really as I know the kids are in the right hands.  True that it is going to be tough in this weather.  Some wet maybe, but the kids will grow wiser and stronger from the experience.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A French Classic Reborn in Hong Kong - Leclair 6 Sonatas for Two Violins, Op.3. by Tengfei Zhou

Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764) is not one of the hottest composers and there are not many recordings of his works these days.  Tengfei Zhou, a member of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, has taken up the difficult task of performing both violins in this unique recording of Leclair's Complete Six Sonatas for Two Violins, Op.3.  It's a 100% Hong Kong production, which makes me feel absolutely proud to be a Hongkonger.  This CD (available at Amazon, Erotica and ArkivMusic (my favourite)) is one of the best-buys if you into Baroque music or French classic.

Zhou, born in Shanghai, received initial training with his father and attended the Shanghai Conservatory of Music at the tender age of 10.  In 1992, while under the tutelage of Roy Malan, he made his solo debut with the San Francisco Symphony.  He continued his training at the Oberlin College and then at the Julliard School with Stephen Clap.  He was appointed the Concertmaster of San Diego Symphony at the age of 15, and toured with the Orchestra in Europe.  He finally joined the Hong Kong Philharmonic and settled in Hong Kong.  Through his teachers, he could claim descent from Tartini and Corelli, both unquestionably influenced Leclair.  In this unique recording, Zhou plays both parts of the sonatas.  And, the result can only be summarised by two words - elegance and clarity.   The CD, once released, received critical acclaims: "Tengfei offers neat accomplished and characterful reading of the sonatas, crisply articulated ... with charming lightness and spirit (The Strad), "Impressive and highly enjoyable... comparably favorably with those of Kogan/Gilels and Perlman/Zukerman (the Fanfare).

There is a recording of the Pachelbel's Cannon in D as a bonus track.  Zhou played the cello part on a synthesiser.  He added the bonus track to his CD because of his own wedding (Is there an end to his genius?).  See the interesting interview with artist here

Tengfei is the first recording artist I personally know.   I love you, Tengfei. 
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