Thursday, 23 May 2013

Memories are the ones that last

I was thinking and vaguely hoping that I would maybe bumb into him at the airport. And I did. At the Hong Kong airport. William  had told me the time of his arrival to Taipei and I was quick to evaluate that he certainly would be taking the same flight as me from Hong Kong. My calculation proved accurate. 
He was slowly walking toward the boarding gate, nonchalant, with his dreamy expression. We were so happy to meet like that. I could have hold him longer and kissed him deeper...  But we were in a public place. 
It crossed my mind how wonderful it would be if one day in the future, we would actually be coming back together from the same travel destination. I kept telling myself from the beginning that I should just enjoy the present moment and not think too much of my future with William, or the limited possibility of it.
A friend of his picked him up at the airport. We weren't introduced. How could he? I was the other man. So he walked away with him before he realised he had not said goodbye and ran back to ask whether I wanted to take the same bus as them. I declined the kind offer. Nicolas was supposed to come and pick me up as well - he didn't, as I found out eventually in a text message he sent me at the last minute: he realised, as he was about to take the bus to the aiport, that he was not feeling so well. So he decided to go back to my flat instead and wait for me there. He had been staying at my place for a month already, whilst looking for a new home in Taipei.
I watched William walk away with his friend. The happiness of bumping into him in Hong Kong gave way to a diffuse mixture of disapointment and sadness. Yes, that was my future, or the lack of it. Being the other man? Coming last after his boyfriend, his friends, his colleagues, his family and... God? I was aware the situation created lots of confusion in him. But it would have been a very bold and risky decision to leave his long acquired stability for me. And I wasn't asking for that. Just not to be a well guarded secret in his life. 

We met another time a couple of days afterward. Early in the morning. He had to drop by his school to give his students some Easter eggs and then come visit me. 
"I'll be jetlagged and sleepy!" I warned him. But the thought of seeing him filled me with elation.
We cuddled and spent the morning sleeping before he had to leave for work. No one in the house even noticed that William came. Beside love, there's this feeling of peacefulness that I feel in his contact. I don't need to explain or say anything. It's fluid. We may not even have the same interest, and yet we enjoy each other's company. 
That was to be our last encounter. Ten days or so later, he asked me whether I would be free for dinner with him. I declined. I had to face the inevitable truth: our relationship wasn't going anywhere. The more time passed, the fonder I grew of him. What do I say? My love for him was growing stronger. I had not felt that way for years. But unfortunately it had to be for someone who was not available. I knew the sentiment was reciprocal. Whatd could he do with it when everything was so fixed in his life? 
I explained the reasons to him. I would be lying if I said that deep down, I didn't have the great hope that he would stand up and tell me in his baritone voice: "I shall stay with you". 
Of course, that's a tragic childhood fairy tale.
He understood the reasons. Maybe he didn't expect me to make the step and go away. 

Nicolas later told me that he and William had been chatting online together. William had come to him for some counselling. Nicolas knew he couldn't advertise for my cause, so he justly told William that he was finding himself at a crossroad in his life, and that it wasn't just about me or his boyfriend. He had been passively accepting and following the course of his life. Maybe now was the moment to be responsible for it and stand up for what he really wanted?
William was highly aware of that. He needed to meditate on it. He went to church to find an answer. Did he find it? 

One night in Hong Kong, after weeks of silence, I couldn't help sending him a short text message to say how much I did miss him. But then... what?

I really don't know. An idea, a thought may need physical support to materialise and join what we call reality. Given the situation, what would happen if I did see him again. Will we resume our forbidden love routine. Will something else come out of it? I'm not so sure I can keep my position for so long. 
What can I lose anyway? "Go and see him", a little voice says...

William sleeping

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Simon is crazy! He had been pining for an online conversation for a few weeks already. I knew some ideas made their way in his mind after he attended my concert with the Berliner Symphoniker. I had no clue what he would come up with, in spite of some hints in ensuing conversations, about how he would see me perform my own music, writing more instrumental or orchestral pieces...
I was less enthusiastic about the outcome of the concert. There has been no review, merely mentions of the event. Nothing more. Of course, I was highly aware what great honour it was to have had my work performed in such a prestigious concert hall. But I was also aware of the many flaws I have found in the work itself. My friends tell me to be kinder to myself. It was my first attempt at writing a symphonic piece, after all. Indeed, I was content and satisfied, but I was not as enthusiastic as Simon. He seemed to get something else out of it. However, I agreed that it was high time to put myself in the front and do more personal projects instead of hiding myself behind other people's projects, choreographers, film makers, directors or would-be singers - sinking ships, as Simon called them.
"Why not form your own ensemble and peform your work?" he asked me a couple of months ago.
We left it at that.
So Simon had been talking to Jochen Thärichen, the manager of the Berliner Symphoniker about an idea he had been nurturing for some time: to bring Passage to the concert hall and have it performed by an orchestra with me and my ensemble. No less!!! The many movements of Passage were written during the tragic events in Fukushima and the tsunami that devastated Japan. Maybe it was the zeitgeist, I was already working on it when I learned the news. I often create music with a premonition. My intuition compels me to do certain things and it's only much later that I understand why.
One of the movements from Passage was entitled Der Abschied (the farewell, in German). It featured an old Japanese man reciting the Japanese translation of the text that Gustav Mahler used for the last song of the Lied von der Erde cycle. I recorded him in 2007 when we were working on PLAY 2 PLAY with Jo Kanamori in Niigata. We tried to use the text in the music but didn't find any suitable moment for it - much to the old man's disappointment. I remembered it as I was composing Passage and it all suddenly made perfect sense: the Japanese man, the choice of the titles der Abschied / Passage...
Simon's idea was to perform the piece, me and my ensemble with the orchestra and invite a famous stage or movie actor for the spoken part. He boldly contacted Japanese conductor Yasuo Shinozaki to tell him about the project. His aim is to premiere the project in Japan for a concert in memory of the event. Yasuo Shinozaki said he was interested. Herr Thärichen also seemed to be delighted by the idea but said that it would not happen before two years, for the orchestra and I had already collaborated this year.

This seems to be a very exciting project/ Simon has always loved the music and kept suggesting me to do something about it. I didn't judge the work worthy of more effort. And now I see how. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Back to the elements

I was standing barefoot on the hiking road, craning to catch a glimpse of the birds I could hear singing from the tall trees around me. It was decided that the shooting would take place on the Tai Po mountain. The project? A short promotional film that Johnny Li, a designer / interior designer decided make to introduce the spirit of his new company and new space, which will be launched by the end of the year. Josh , the director who was hired for the occasion went on location scouting and found this trail on the mountain. There was other alternatives but the Tai Po mountain obviously perfectly suited his vision. Johnny had Josh and I fly to Hong Kong especially for the project and was tight with time: we only had one day of shooting and the weather didn't seem willing to cooperate with us. The clouds were hovering low above us and it had started raining as soon as we stepped into the car! Josh, Norm (who joined the project to do the cinematography -  might as well use all the talents around) and the film crew were busy setting the camera. The weather had not been as Johnny had expected - well, read on the weather report: sunny. But somehow the shooting went well. I digged a hole, made a fire, walked on rocks, crossed a brook, watered a plant, went up and down a hill, all this barefoot.
I had felt the strong urge to connect with nature and Hong Kong wouldn't strike anyone as the ideal place. But that day of shooting gave me the perfect opportunity.
As the camera was being set for the last scene, I looked up and saw the branches high above me and the birds were giving the most extraordinary concert. I was happy.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Blue Hotel

I remember once my mother telling me that she was lying on her bed one afternoon when my friend Jan and I were playing music downstairs. "I felt such a loneliness

In between... Changes of frequency, moon, full moon, eclipse, lunar knot... Words that Nicolas use to explain all the disturbances that we go through. Have been going through, will go through... Our condition as human beings doesn't leave much to envy. This month of May is supposed to be a very difficult one. 
I didn't really want to believe it completely, but I have to say, I'm yielding to it.
I haven't been feeling so well since I came back from Paris, a month or so ago. As usual, this recent stay in Paris was a very draining one, albeit a better one than the previous time last autumn. I had been wiser and more skilled at handling the family situation with my parents, gave myself more time to see my friends and  take a deep breath, in spite of the workload. I was looking forward to being back in Taipei.
But coming home was like getting numb. Nicolas had been staying there for a month already - he was looking for a flat and things didn't turn the out way he hoped, planned or expected - he's still here now...
My flatmate Ryan had finally found a partner, after months attempting to make me his boyfriend. Long months during which I had to be careful not to hurt his feelings - even though we were not together, he still would act like a jealous lover whenever I would see someone or bring someone home, something I would rarely do anyway, being the one who always tries to make sure everyone is fine around me, at the cost of sacrificing my own space.
There was even less space on my return. Nicolas' presence. His ongoing depression and emotional instability, his restlessness at finding a new flat. I had to reconquer my space but found it difficult to do so. Without being really being aware of it, I was absorbing the low mood around me. Ryan had been patient and said nothing about Nicolas' extended stay, but he preferred to close the doors and protect his intimacy. I sleepwalked through the month without realising that Nicolas' depression was affecting me as well.
It was only when he took a few days to go to Taichung with a couple of friends that the atmosphere suddenly became lighter. Ryan was having a beer with his beloved one and invited me to join them. I was busy working on my new website but gladly accepted the offer. It was the first time we sat around the table for a drink. Ryan seemed somehow relieved. Maybe unconsciously he had felt Nicolas' strong dislike of him without being to put it into words. Even if Nicolas is a very dear friend, that doesn't mean I have to be blind to some aspects of his personality and accept things I strongly disagree with. His selfishness, absolutist, ruthless nature and calculating mind sometime really put me off.   

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Captive Queen, c'est moi!!!

As Flaubert who said 'Madame Bovary, c'est moi!' I could also say 'The Captive Queen, c'est moi!' Although I realise it's dangerous to use the word queen outside of the semantic field of royalty...
I just completed the score intended for what was supposed to be my fourth collaboration with Jo Kanamori: The Captive Queen.
It took me a couple of weeks before I could go back to that piece, after Jo finally decided that it wasn't going to work out this time. Since I no longer had to follow Sibelius' musical structure so closely, I allowed myself to wander a little away from the narrative.
As I listened to it again, I realise how much the music was saying my current state of being. As Nicolas said when he heard it: "The music is very beautiful, very much aware, not at all lost. What I sense is this yearning for abandonment, to let go. Not of yourself, but what keeps your prisonner."

I have been dealing with that eversince I came back from Paris, more than a month ago.