Life Art Music Writing

Salon at home

Last Sunday, my roommate and I started a salon series at home. Organizing stuff in New York is difficult, as things get intense and overdue, and you can always have as many troubles in work as in personal life. Luckily, a bunch of supportive friends and art enthusiasts never give up occasions where they can get drunk and shout out their love for the city, while the city becomes more irresistibly charming because of them.

The first salon was much simpler than what we had envisioned due to the limited time we had for planning as well as the doubt for the feasibility. The only performers we had for the music part were me and my roommate's laptop (on which a recorded live performance was played). Artist Michael Hafftka showed up in his casual denim shirt with a humongous amount of energy to be poured out from his creative mind. Throughout the salon, Michael went through all the facets of his creative process, from how to start a painting, how to pin down a title (in which his lovely wife Yonat Hafftka playes a big part) to how to interact with the viewers, he successfully left an impression of a Santa Claus... No, a mature artist who has a great positive vibe and as well as total control of his art world (which is that you cannot control...). As a music lover, he also shared his immediate reaction after hearing me perform the "Piano Sonata 1. X. 1905" by Leos Janacek as a game to compare the historical context of an artwork and the audience's emotional reaction. (Here I am sharing a great recording recommended by the intelligent and elegant pianist Lisa Yui.) When it came to music, we were so lucky to have had Lisa in presence as her broad knowledge made a much-appreciated contribution to the discussion. She could just call in Beethoven and Chopin when we dealt with subjects such as giving a title or to communicate the creators' intentions, and she would tell us what these giants in the classical music world would say about them. We had so many wonderful people in our apartment, and most of them came to hear my roommate Shiuan Chang's wonderfully unique composition. As the composer stated himself, he preferred not to give away the title before playing the recording because he believed "a direct personal contact with the artwork" would be the most genuine way of appreciating art. All these discussion led us to explore other media in the art world. We turned to the inspiring photographer Masahito Ono for his point of view, as he later recalled, "I don't consider any of my work original since all the materials and elements I use already exist." That suites perfectly for a pianist dealing with a musical score, and our discussion paused there, with me finishing the salon by performing Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy. We are all wanderers on the path of pursuing the art, aren't we?

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