Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Flying High

I’m in Hong Kong, my mother is flying today to Boston, and my father will go to Vietnam in two weeks or so. Funny that we’re all going far away from Paris. Except my brother…

Hong Kong Airport


I know it will take me a couple of weeks to settle in Hong Kong. It’s not only to get physically used to the change, but also to feel the air, observe, watch, discover the people and the city they live in, feel the pulse and the pace.
I feel like a kite, going where the wind blows. Fred has received a few e-mails from friends of his who are trying to introduce me to music people here. I must say that I never expected Hong Kong to be the heart of culture. However, I was very surprised to learn that record label Naxos was founded in Hong Kong!
So I’ll keep my fingers crossed, say my prayers every night and go to the temple to do a secret ritual dance under the moon!!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007


The last ferry to Lamma Island is at half past midnight, which doesn’t allow me to stay late. Now that I am on the Hong Kong Island, I can take the bus back. The problem is to know where and how. I was coming back from Mongkok yesterday night. I was told that I could catch the bus from Causeway Bay. The major task was to locate the stop. Unlike Paris, all different kinds of buses, double-deck buses, tramways, shuttles are running to and from any direction.
It took me one good hour to find mine. I was running, crossing the streets back and forth, some people directing here then there,. The typical sight of a foreigner lost in a big city.
I didn’t know one had to ring the bell anytime to get off the bus. So I followed one man who was getting off and found myself standing in the middle of road at night, with the wind in full blow and no one in sight.. That wasn’t Chung Hum Kok, obviously!  I tried to walk the rest of the way but stopped after a few meters. It was impossible to walk on the side of the narrow meandering road unless I wanted to be end my life and be  ran over by a car. The wind was so violent I could barely stand.
Finally hailed a cab and reached home. More than one hour and a half to get back. Metro, bus, taxi…

I was still haunted by the film I had seen in the afternoon: Lust, Caution, Ang Lee’s latest oeuvre.

Queen Street

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Hong Kong

I have left Lamma Island for Chung Hum Kok, in the Southern part of Hong Kong Island where I’m going to hosted for the rest of my stay, that is, the rest of the first part of my stay.
Lamma Island was a rural, quiet, peaceful and very laid back place which came as welcome release from days spent in the hard speed city. The Chung Hum Kok is equally peaceful. Just add glamour and style to it. And lots of money.
Lots of style and lots of money to achieve it. It can be likened to the Côte d'Azur, French Riviera. Expensive houses on the coast with  a private view on the sea. People dream of it, pay to enjoy it on a holiday. Some people have as simply as one can drink water.
At first, I was overwhelmed by the place. Fred has been so kind to invite me to stay. There’s a Steinway grand piano in the living room. Everything has been decorated and furnished with great taste. Spotless, perfect, immaculate. I felt like a stain!
That’s the kind of place I would love to have myself - and will eventually. Maybe the change of scenery has been to dramatic for me, from Paris to Hong Kong, staying in Lamma Island and now in this AD magazine worthy house.
But then, I certainly earned it, somehow. Things never happen for now reason, and if I felt the impulse to move back to Lamma Island, I now am happy to enjoy it, little by little. To get used to the idea that it is part of my life, and that I am not a guest on a film set.

Fred's cat, Ling-Ling

Fred's art-loving poodles


I have met Ah Sing, who’s a screenwriter, children book writer, and also has a well paying job to finance his project: to have a publishing company. He’s worked as s screenwriter for the Shaw Brothers and more recently collaborated in the musical drama ‘Perhaps, Love’, with Takeshi Kaneshiro.
We had only been exchanging a few messages on the internet, but since I was new in Hong Kong, he kindly offered to visit me on the island. We had a walk through the hills, sat by the beach,  had some tofu desert in an isolated stall on the road and talked, of course. The received ideas will have it that Hong Kong people are mainly materialistic, yet I have met a few people who try to cope with this life in order to reach their aim. Ah Sing has already been working in the cinema business and will not give up writing just because it doesn’t make money. I don’t know how he manages all these jobs, but I was highly inspired to see how much he gave for that.
I don’t know where this encounter will lead to. He wants to help, knows some contacts… I explained to him my position regarding this ‘business’: never forget that even if most of the people follow the established rules, there’s always a way to expand and bring new elements in the game.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Out... here

The first thing that welcomed me: an ad with Andy Lau. Yes I was definitely in Hong Kong! Someone told me he’s everywhere and indeed he is.
The trip went smoothly. I arrived more than early at the airport in spite of the strikes. Jan kindly suggested to drive me to the airport and Nicolas joined for what was to be our last meeting before he goes to the wild American West. 
Jan did so well that I had four hours and a half of spare time before the flight!!! Hardly anyone on the road when we expected endless traffic jams.
Being greeted by Andy Lau on my arrival was a good sign for me. I had no idea where I would spend the night, but everything was fine; I was happy to be here.
I had my moments of doubts. My bank account showed a 1200 euro gap compared to last week, I didn’t know what happened, I didn’t know what to do. But something kept telling me: a beginning of a new life has to be a real beginning. I could not bring back old habits and old ways. I will allow myself a few days of aimless loitering before getting started.

I sat on a bench and called my friend Siu Yung. He had offered to host me very good-naturally. He lives on the Lamma Island, which is a welcome change from the fast paced life of Central Hong Kong. The ferry ride gives you the time to leave this craziness behind and you step into a different world when you leave the boat. Lamma Island is very rural, quite undeveloped. The nights are quiet, I wake up with the song of the birds. Not your usual Parisian pigeons or sparrows.  It’s a whole concert to greet the new day. I open the windows and see amaryllis that grows in the wilderness of a backyard and an abandoned piece of land. If it wasn’t for Siu Yung I may have ended in a love hotel, as one friend suggested. Even though I’m not sure they would accept a ‘normal’ guest. I remember how I in vain tried to book a room in a love hotel in Tokyo…
I don’t do much during the day. Just aimless loitering, watching people, following these endless footbridges that take me from one building to another. The city is impressive, though not so big. What is considered remote here isn’t once you’ve known Paris, New York, London or Tokyo. So this twenty something minute daily ride on the ferry is like taking the metro in Paris. Except that is it more pleasant.

If I needed to feel comforted in my decision to leave Paris, Hong Kong gives me the perfect impetus.
It is sheer idiocy to keep on living in Paris where the cost of life is increasing beyond limits, where I find no possibility to develop my projects and where the global sentiment isn‘t of expansion or growth, but fear and defensiveness.

The days are so beautiful, I will take a walk across the island and maybe have a fresh seafood lunch.  To think that I was freezing on my bike a few days earlier… That’s the wonder of traveling.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Bibbe is in Paris!

Bibbe is in Paris !!! There will be a screening about Billy Name’s work tomorrow evening, so I will certainly go with her. She told me at the last minute and has picked the perfectly wrong time to be in Paris with all these strikes… Strikes... Our national sport. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


My part of work for the book is nearly finished. I have to prepare all the files for Colin before I leave. The schedule is tight for him because he’s going to Venice for the Biennale in a couple of days.
But I’m still confident that everything will be fine now.
I hope the book will be ready for the Chinese New Year.

The interview with my father went very well. Damien and Mathieu came with me to my parents’ place and we did the interview in the veranda. Everybody was pleased and we enjoyed a very nice moment together. I made my father freak out a little bit when I pointed out that most of what he said was rather negative if not pessimistic toward the Vietnamese music education and the state of culture in the country. We had a good laugh about it and Damien promised to find a positive turn to what he said.
Mathieu made great photos.
And I was munching cookies on the side!

Photo by Mathieu Thoisy

Monday, 12 November 2007

Editing the book

I have spent the past 14 hours working on this book. Numbering, selecting, resizing, organizing, pasting, copying, cutting, writing, blowing, counting, re-numbering…
80 pages. The big task was to get started with all these drawings, paintings and sketches. What was I thinking when I believed it would only take a couple of hours to complete the task. No. Even if I had being visualizing it in my head, the book only started to take shape when I got my hand deep in the mud. As a thread, I used a poem by Goethe that my uncle likes to recite whenever he sees us. That was the starting point. It took hours to prepare each page before deciding the order. Now I’m knackered. I can’t even count to ten!
But my part is done,  it’s Colin’s turn to work.

Tomorrow, I will have to go to the Vietnamese embassy for the visa, then make this interview of my father with Damien for this life style/fashion magazine from Hanoi: EastWest...

And I guess the rest of the week will be about relaxing, seeing friends and making music. (that’s what I like to believe…)

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Esa Pekka Salonen

It’s a challenge for me to complete all my projects before leaving. I go through them without stress. That’s the best way to remain sane in this intense time of changes.
The music for Reminiscence is done. Amelle liked all that I wrote for her. Once again, I had no idea what she was going to do, so I followed my intuition and focused on the vibrations that emanated from her. It wasn’t very difficult a task. I remember a TV series about the life of Mozart, where the composer explained that he had to please two kinds of audience: the A type is the common people, who like tuneful melodies which are easy to remember, and the B type are the elite and the connoisseurs, who have a deeper understanding of music. The music has to be appealing to both types without sacrificing for one or the other.
Not that I compare myself to the genius, but the thought always stays in the corner of my mind. And I found the same in Shakespeare and Molière’s works. One can write ambitious pieces but shall never forget that the world is composed of many kinds of people.
Reminiscence will not be my highest musical achievement, but I take pleasure listening to it, and hope people will as well.

The video of Goovy is finally finalized! After remaining dormant for nearly a year, I took the video file Lian had given me last year. The original running time of the song was much too long for the footages she had, so she picked another song from my album, Love and Long for Someone. The result wasn’t very convincing to me, only for the fact that she only used the first half of the song. The matter was left unfinished until I recently decided to make a short edit of Goovy to match the running time of video. I added some unused footage she had sent me at the very beginning and the now we have it!


Esa Pekka Salonen is definitely my favourite conductor, or shines brightly in my top five. My dear music worshipper friend Rémi got me a ticket to attend a Sibelius concert with Salonen conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
That must have been one of the best concerts this year – well, yes, I haven’t been to so many after all…
I rarely hear such homogeneity in the orchestral texture. The musicians obviously gave their best and were one single entity. As Rémi put it so nicely, the sound grew from an inner landscape of the music, and not the contrary. On the program were Sibelius’ 4th and 7th symphonies. It was nearly a spiritual experience. I know many critics found the performance too cold, too neat and too polished. But they didn’t seem to acknowledge another possible vision of the music, so rooted were they in their conceptions of how this music ought to be played.
Salonen gave the subtlest rendition of the two symphonies and the orchestra sounded like it was from another world. Splendid. It was apparently the musical event to attend this season, and I’m glad Rémi thought of me.
Quite interestingly, I will be attending another Sibelius concert next month, this time with Edo de Waart conducting the Hong Kong Philharmonic…

Tomorrow will be a Scriabin evening…

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Hong Kong in the near distance

Hong-Kong in 16 days! I found it hard to fall asleep last night as the actuality of the trip was intensifying by the moment in my mind.
I’m happy to have found a place to stay in Hong–Kong. A friend of Errol’s with whom I have been exchanging long e-mails has kindly offered his home as a haven for me. He’s a lover of the arts – I would even say patron of the arts - he owns a gallery and seems to be of the most generous type. Our exchanges have been rich and deep, always inspiring. I was very surprised that someone who has never met me accepted to host me for so long a time. But as he put it, and I totally agree with him, we do not need to have met someone to recognize a friend. I was very touched – and also relieved.
The house is located on the southern part of the island, where pollution is less strong, with a view on the sea. What else could I ask for? Well, actually a lot, because he told me a Steinway grand was waiting to be played. So I will be able to keep on my daily practice and work on this Mozart Piano Concerto!
Simon told me that he didn’t feel I would be coming to Taiwan, and I must say that his intuition is right. I would love to go there, but I do not feel this potential trip to become real either. Whatever happens, I will not plan anything for now. Going to Hong-Kong is already a big adventure for me.


I played the first two movements I have composed to Amelle. I had little doubt she would not like the music. Nothing very experimental this time, since it is her first big solo, the important thing was to make it accessible to the audience.
I just finished a third movement – which actually become the second, and shall start working on the last one today. They’re quite short pieces. No more than five minutes each.
The title is Reminiscence. 

I guess that shall be my last work for dance in some time. I don’t think I will work with Jo this coming year. I heard facts from Tsuyoshi that left me in a worrying state.
He’s letting opportunities to grow and open up slip away from his finger: the Brazil City Ballet offer, now this collaboration with Yoko, a fellow dancer from the Forsythe Company they have invited to choreograph for Noism. Three days before the performance, Jo indicated that he didn’t wish to dance with her, nor be directed by her.
He also cancelled highly anticipated performances with her at the Bunkamura Theatre in Tokyo that were to take place in December. What on earth he is doing??? Tsuyoshi and I are deeply concerned. But what can we say?
Jo will throw a big party in Tokyo to celebrate his wedding at the end of the month, so Tsuyoshi will try to find a time to have a talk with him. I really hope it’s just a phase and that he will chose the right decision for his life and future.
As a friend, I cannot and will not let that happen, although I know that no one but himself can decide. Nobuko has asked me to write a piece of music for the wedding. I was thinking of using the first movement of Reminiscence, but its mood is much to melancholic and I don’t want to spoil the party and cast a dark shadow! You just get the wrong person if you want happy-go-lucky music from me…


One more musical afternoon with Julia before I leave. She has read the e-mail I send to all my friends to tell them about my forthcoming move. She didn’t mention it, but I knew she was sad, even if she wishes for the best. What a lady, what a friend!
She sang the Pie Jesu from Fauré’s Requiem, and her voice has never sounded so vibrant and rich. It’s amazing how people who know each other well, can feel what is going without any word being said. I was also deeply moved by her singing, and we went on in this enchantment of making music.
I really love the lady!