Latest Benefit Performance Made the News

Yesterday, my sibling and I performed at the Hana Matsuri, organized by the Southern Alberta JET Program Alumni Association (SAJETAA for short). Hana Matsuri is a Japanese celebration to welcome spring and to commemorate Buddha's birthday.

Since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, we have wanted to help with the relief efforts in any way that we can. When we signed up to perform, we thought, "Oh boy! We don't have a lot of time to put this together. Time to get cracking!"

We had one week. Three ensemble rehearsals. Sheet music for only two songs, chord charts for the rest, for those who want to know. Melodies had to be picked out entirely by ear.

I'm the first to admit that when the news camera guy walked in, there was a moment of panic: "OMG! We haven't had these pieces for very long. What if we bomb?". Incidentally, every classical artist's nightmare. We are trying to break the habit but every now and again, we succumb to old thought processes.

Thankfully, all went well. We triumphed over our trouble spots and smoothly adjusted whenever we went "off the page". For that, we have to thank God. We also have to thank our music teachers, especially Derek Stoll and Linda Pimentel, for stressing the essential stage survival skills: technique, sight-reading, improvisation, a strong ear and a strong foundation in music theory.

We were touched by our audience. It is really true that we feed off our audiences. It's a circle: musician gives to audience - audience reacts - musician feeds off reaction to give more. We see happy faces, we want to give more to the happy faces. We see people tearing up with emotion, we want to give them more because we know we've triggered something in their heart. Our audience becomes an integral part of our performance.

As a pianist, I don't really see the reactions of the audience, but I hear them. The sighs of pleasure,the laughter, the gasps of delight, the whispers, etc. We even hear the not-so positive comments with our "on-stage super hearing", such as "Is it over yet?", "I wanna go home now!", "This piece is sooooo long!"

As a singer, I see it all written on people's faces. There is a magical, mystical connection forged when you sing directly to someone. We don't get that connection when our eyes are focused on our instrument.

The festival itself was a success. There was an ikebana demonstration (too bad I didn't win a flower arrangement for Mom), taiko drumming demonstration by Midnight Taiko Kai, several things to buy, free food and tea and a "Let's Play Dress Up" corner with yukata. Sale and raffle proceeds went towards the Japan earthquake/tsunami relief efforts.

And yes - we made Global TV Calgary's 6:00 News approximately 11 minutes into the newscast. You can hear us playing Houki Boshi in one segment and a bit of Tsubassa wo kudasai in other.

Selected songs from yesterday's performance will be added to Musespeak's Youtube Channel.

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.