Zoom out, let go

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Three months have passed since the move.

In my previous post, I wrote about events which enveloped me in ‘fruit radiance’: the Ricciotti Ensemble Tour, a starburst of inspiration, positive energy and love. This music project was one of the biggest gifts life had ever given me. I’d never played music in this way before, where the focus and ethos was purely on sharing joy with each other and caring for the public.

Yes! my inner voice said, This is what music is all about! Continue reading

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Marionette / Energy

Marionette

Knowing I’m a puppet
bobbing along the canal,
Someone’s pulling on the strings
controlling my wheres and hows.

I feel I have some say
on how to hold my arms.
Even at the mercy and sway
of unforeseen harms.

Rest assured,
I can resist
the forces in my wrist,
but not enough to break that solid grip.
Rotating fist.

Marionette overlord.
I can’t find you in me.
But, I hear your footsteps!
Pounding the balcony.


Energy

Somehow it’s much more simple
to style myself in ink
than play those notes,
and hear my voice
drowning
in the sink.

I’ll wait for notes – Enter my head!
– but hear these words instead.

I seem to love notes
less (much less)
than muttering words in bed.

Don’t get trapped within yourself.
I promise!
I’ll look beyond my eyes.
But really,
I feel much safer on the page
than in my musical lies.

I feel more present when I write
than when I play violin.

I feel like I can show the world
the girl that lives within

the spectacles and photographs
suffering from lethargy,
until words come to rescue her.
Dancing. Energy.


Since I read Kate Tempest
I can’t help but rhyme my words,
and structure them in rhythms.
Pretty chirping birds.

27 days

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I remember when the word University looked like a big mountain and

I
was
a
wee
pebble.

I remember when you shouted me into doing this degree after looking at all the Linguistics books I’d borrowed from the Central Library in Edinburgh.

I remember emancipation from music school, a place that flung me into the sky, to blissful, heavenly heights, and threw me back down onto the ground.

I remember how desperate I was to break away from school and everything I used to do, to the point where I was convinced – encouraged to believe – and not entirely by my own hand, that I should change my image and even my own name, for the second time; because having an unusual Chinese name would be an oral obstacle to professional networking and to becoming a success.

I remember during the summer before the great move I had researched, extensively, all the societies I considered joining, even emailing some of them in advance in order to indicate and validate my existence as an enthusiastic, energised new student ready to make her mark in the student community and all that yada-yada.

I remember the day I moved out of home. We packed many, many bags into the car. I had curled my hair with rollers the previous night and my locks had scooped into curls that bounced like the dancers in the flirty fifties. I remember picking utensils from the kitchen in the old house; we were very selective of the number of knives, forks, chopsticks, plates and bowls. My spatula was made of pink rubber with a stainless steel handle. The chopping board was grass green. Continue reading

On China, family and writing

Location: Hainan
Time: 02:30AM – 05:00AM

How refreshing it is to fly to a country that feels like home yet bewilders you at the same time. I am swallowed up in the population, the ginormous bureaucracy, unknown to billions of people and barred from social media. It is weirdly pleasant, especially after such a publicised and popularised fortnight in another place, to escape into this culture. It means that I don’t get carried away wallowing in the memories of this ‘success’ and that ‘achievement’, swimming in the blue aftermath of adrenaline-filled days, all mopey that it has come to an end. The last thing I want to do is self-indulge and forget about where I am and who I am with.

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Continue reading

The Forgotten Youth – a response to David Nice (The Arts Desk)

Location: On the 9-hour plane from Helsinki to Guangzhou

My happiness of the weekend has diminished a little after reading someone’s written words. The good memories on- and off-stage, regardless of their emotive strength and permanence, are now partially smudged out by one particular 5-star review about our BBC Prom – quite ironic I know. Sadly, some of the review was not written in the right way, and I thus feel guilty for enjoying our success and accepting the praise. It also brought my attention to an even bigger issue – NYOS and Scotland’s reputation that has been largely ignored in the classical music scene.

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These thoughts have been brewing in my mind ever since I read it, muffling the glorious music I saw performed this weekend. Believe me it really takes a lot to beat Petrushka, Scythian Suite and The Rite of Spring. So, I am going to let it out.

The disappointing words were from David Nice, writing on behalf of The Arts Desk a joint review on both the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain Prom and the NYOS Prom. Many nice things were said for both orchestras. He lauded them both. He rightly recognised the potential, standard and professionalism of NYOS that have been ignored for far too long by the BBC Proms and everyone else. NYOGB was given a much-deserved 4-stars. However, a few sections render it a distasteful comparative analysis of two fantastic youth orchestras, which bothers me quite a lot. I speak out against it as a young Scottish musician, as an alumnus, friend and former intern of NYOGB, as a friend to some of its current musicians, and finally as Leader of NYOS Symphony Orchestra. Continue reading

About a Violin

Part I

Wake up, wake up …

I wrote my final thank you card today and accepted the fact that I was going to cry very, very badly and uncontrollably in the violin shop. I buzzed the door, entered and greeted the lovely receptionists. Also there, by chance, was the lady who had made all of this happen. She was attending to another violinist – American, I think, judging from her accent – and took a tiny second to recognise me in my granny glasses and state of exhaustion.

Oh dear, I thought, this tragedy’s going to have an audience.

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A gift in Marylebone

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I wish people didn’t visit Oxford Street, for there is little to see that inspires and only stress to be felt under your skin. It is hard to really see any thing when you walk along the pavements because all things that could be seen are blurred by herds of people walking around aimlessly and stubbornly, smudging themselves and all surrounding elements into unnecessary chaos.

It is hard to see Paul at the bottom of the stairs at Bond Street Tube Station, around 17:15 on Friday. He is one tiny, unassuming pebble in the vicious current of rush hour and London shopping mania, easily brushed away and avoided, easily dodged. I walked past him and felt a click in my moral resources* that halted me before I touched in with my Oyster. I wanted to give him some change but I had none on me at the time. Then I remembered that I had organic cookies and chocolate and decided there could be worser alternatives to sweet treats.  Continue reading

April: Postcards from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strasbourg

Edinburgh – 03.04.16

The clock reads 02:59AM and my train is at 07:33AM, but my mind continues to reel round between my temples the pages of music that I don’t know, and my heartbeat is running away. I have tried every corner of the bed. I’ve crooked my back into countless different angles, spread my arms out under the pillows, listened to the radio, gone to the toilet, drank water …

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The unconditional love of children and other elixirs

Zozo

The tiny doll in pink glasses and bubbly ringlets looked up at me from her chair, with eyes as bright as the light of summer waters. Her two dainty yet hasty hands fluttered at me. I obeyed and crouched down to face-level.
“Hm?” I said. Even closer! said her hands and eyes, so I leaned the side of my head towards her ready to receive the secret. A whispered gift. She moved forward to my ear and curled her hands into a hollow by my cheek. A few seconds of silence; I heard no whisper. Then, from the stillness came the quietest, softest, smallest kiss in the world.

A cherry-blossom petal had fallen and was floating on the water.

Continue reading