It rained so hard when I was practicing on the Bucksbaum campus today. The clouds dark and low, as if leaning on the mountains, no sunshine at all; I thought, after all, it might be a sunny day tomorrow.
And tomorrow will be the day I depart. Although it has already been my fourth year in Aspen, this last day still stirs me up. Part of the reason is that I will soon be in a country I have never been to before, and, in addition, the workload awaits me is massive. The uncertainty makes me melancholic.
I had the last conversation with my dearest bus driver (my "occidental grandpa"), the last piano lesson with Veda (while figuring out the next lesson in a month), and the last supper with my "family in Aspen" at Casa Tua. My "little sister" played a family concert of Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals in Harris Hall right before the dinner, to which almost all the kids in Aspen went. Some of them were shouting, some crying; some running around while some totally drawn to the music. What a fun concert! Yet all my attentions were paid on the kids. The concert reminded me the first musical experience in my memory.
Before I started learning the piano, I went to some classes to learn basic notation and solfège. In one of the classes, the teacher played a cartoon of Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. The teacher patiently explained which instruments represented which characters, while my innocent classmates were not necessarily listening. But, once she started to play the music, all of us quieted down and listened to it. That was the first time I learnt about flute, bassoon, french horn and other instruments, and I must was listening so carefully that I still remember it today.
Luckily, the sun appeared before the concert, so we could witness the beautiful sunset in Aspen once more. We sat down in Casa Tua, and all of us decided to have Lamb Chops before looking at the menu. Two appetizers were set and three desserts followed the meal. It was the most abundant meal I have ever had in my life - I even had a cup of coffee with the desserts. Not only the food was gorgeous, but the atmosphere, the waiter (who treated me coffee), the conversations my friends and I had and the feeling of time passing by also inspired me as I looked back on my summer, which was so exciting and interesting.
I played again in the Benedict Tent this year: I did Hindemith's Concert Music for Piano, Brass and Haprs with the Brass Ensemble under Mr. Per Brevig's conducting. To be honest, I was nervous as hell because we had far less rehearsals than enough and they were not so ideal. Somehow everything went right on stage that day, not meaning playing everything perfectly but musically and spiritually good enough. People who attended the concert seemed happy, yet I did not dare to get the recording of it until today. However, the sound of ONLY brass was not new to me. I still remember the sound from the brass section when I played Stravinsky's Concerto for Piano and Winds with the Juilliard Orchestra back in 2012. As a result, I was ready for the thickness and harshness brasses could produce before the rehearsal, so that I was not drown out in the Hindemith.
If I want to pinpoint the most exciting event I have experienced this summer, it would be the performance at the brand new Aspen Art Museum. At its opening, the Aspen Music Festival and School cooperated with it on a recital given by the students. I was lucky to be one of them and played Schoenberg's Three Pieces for Piano, Op. 11 and selections from Bach's Goldberg Variations. Thirty-something audience seats were placed in the spacious gallery while in reality much more people came. Some of them sat on the ground and the other stood through the concert. I have been a modern-art-nut since middle school, and the space of a gallery or a museum is somehow very appealing to me. The museum opening includes works by Cai Guo-Qiang, Yves Klein and so on, which to me is already the most exiting event. But playing in a museum? Surrounded by those artworks? To describe it, It was one of the concerts I played in my life that I enjoyed every seconds on stage.
But even more than that, I interned in the museum! I had been expecting the opening of the new building along with my coworkers for the whole summer. During my intern, I helped with the ArtCrush event, had my first auction experience, did security in the gallery, and, most frantic to me, gathered artists' information for the opening concert. So when the museum CEO and director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson was introducing the concert to the audience, I could recognize some sentences I wrote. How excited I was when I heard them! I turned to the piano so happily and played with such dedication that I felt I was literally making art.
I also saw the Black Lightning by Cai Guo-Qiang at the Aspen Mountain. The first time I saw his works was when Taipei Fine Art Museum did a retrospective show of him in 2009. If you turned on TV in Taiwan during that time, you could see him everywhere in the News and talk shows. He made this huge canvas on which he sketched a dancer's movements with gunpowder and then exploded it. The result was breathtakingly beautiful. This time in Aspen, he designed the Black Lightning for the new museum opening. The idea of seeing a firework in daytime made people thrilled and nervous. A good crowd gathered on a Saturday afternoon and two sets of fireworks were set off separately. People witnessed the mystic and uncommon ceremony for the opening and after a short moment of halt, they all adjusted back to the beautiful day in Aspen.
Notwithstanding all these wonderful experiences in Aspen, I am now looking forward to my second summer festival IN MY LIFE. Lucerne Festival Academy. I already know that it will be very different from what I have here now, but I am sure that I will fall in love with it. Time to get some white sausages and cheese fondue.