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Classical music at e.g.

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I spent Thursday and Friday at the e.g. conference in Monterey, California, which was incrediblly inspiring. I feel really lucky to have been a part of it.

Each day, the roughly 300 attendees were given the opportunity to hear hours and hours of presentations by talented people who have done incredible things. While I found the content of the presentations to be fascinating, what I really loved was that everyone involved was doing something driven by passion, and while there were many paths to the discovery of a particular passion, they had all figured it out (some were born into it, and some only discovered it after having gone through meandering paths of adventure in other fields).

There was, however, one thing that stood out, and not in a good way: classical music.

Music at conferences like TED and e.g. are often based in the avant-garde and experimental, which can, of course, be interesting and thought-provoking. Classical instruments like the piano, violin and cello are usually part of some kind of crossover performance. The musicians are often quite talented, and the audience loves this stuff. During the 2 days I was at e.g., there were exactly two purely-classical performances, which starkly contrasted in quality when compared to the other presentations. The first was a short solo piano piece that wasn’t very well prepared, and the second, a Brahms piano trio that was pretty much sight read on stage. After the piano trio sight-reading performance, something incredible happened: the crowd gave a standing ovation! I was thoroughly confused and disappointed. If this same performance had taken place in a concert hall, all of the musicians in the audience would have walked out.

Curators at conferences like e.g. and TED need to feature classical performances that are as high in caliber as the rest of the presentations—or, leave them out entirely.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Apr 16, 2012 00:31:52

Pictures from the SLSQ Chamber Music Seminar 2011

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As the official unofficial photographer of the St. Lawrence String Quartet‘s Chamber Music Seminar 2011, I present the following batch of pictures. (read more »)

Stanford, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 6, 2011 23:57:19

A moment of clarity during Mahler’s 9th symphony

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I had an incredible (and unusual) experience tonight at Davies Symphony Hall, where I went to see the San Francisco Symphony play Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 (one of my favorite pieces of orchestral music). I’ve seen it performed live a few times; each time, it’s moved me to tears.

Mahler’s 9th symphony ends in adagio—in the softest of fragmented whimpers—and as the last few notes whispered into existence, I suddenly had a moment of incredible clarity. All of my senses converged into absolute sharpness; I could see, vividly, every detail of the orchestra—the position of every stand, chair, instrument, player—and hear every tiny little creak of audience members trying not to move in their seats. Every bit of my brain was oscillating in perfect harmony, and I finally truly understood the meaning of the word, clarity.

It only lasted a few seconds, but was a moment I will remember for a lifetime. Thank you, MTT and the members of the San Francisco Symphony, for the wonderful performance.

As a side note, I now wonder if some people are able to achieve this sort of clarity during their normal, day-to-day lives. I can only imagine…

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | May 7, 2011 01:22:33

I’m performing this Friday night at Stanford’s Memorial Church

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I’m performing (on the cello) with the Stanford Chamber Chorale this coming Friday, March 4 at 8pm (MemChu). The theme: light!

See you there, maybe. :)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Mar 3, 2011 00:33:38

Beethoven Triple Concerto, SF Symphony

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Chee-Yun and Alisa are in town to play Beethoven Triple Concerto with the SF Symphony. The music world is tiny; I’m not even really a part of it, but it’s always fun to hang out and catch up.

Tickets for tonight and tomorrow night are still available — highly recommended! Photos follow… (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Feb 4, 2011 11:58:25

Classical shredding

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If you are a classical musician or music buff, you MUST see these incredible videos. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Jan 23, 2011 19:48:40

3D string quartet performance (anaglyph)

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3D test (anaglyph — requires red/cyan glasses) of Quartetto Sugoi in low light using dual Sony CX550V camcorders zoomed in a bit, perhaps, to 40mm (35mm equivalent) or so. Camera sync is approx 16ms apart, which is why there is ghosting when objects move. Video targets large displays (30″+ ideal).

Due to tolerances in manufacturing, it is nearly impossible to get two of these cameras to align perfectly, resulting in the need for rotational geometry correction in post, which may also account for further image degradation (in addition to the low light noise, that is).

Music: Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 6, excerpt from first movement (thanks, Quartetto Sugoi!)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Jul 25, 2010 19:25:38

SLSQ Seminar 2010 video

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A short from the St. Lawrence String Quartet’s 2010 Summer Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford University. I only shot a little video during the 10-day seminar because I was focused on shooting stills, but I had enough to mash it together into this little piece.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 6, 2010 10:09:58

SLSQ Summer Chamber Music Seminar 2010

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St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar 2010 group photo (zoom in for more fun)

I posted a bunch of photos from the SLSQ Chamber Music Seminar 2010 over on Facebook (public link). If you’re not on Facebook, you can see all of the photos here in this journal entry (apologies: it’s bandwidth-intensive!). You can also download hi-res versions of the group photos (click on the image you want and then select “O” for original image).

Special thanks to the other members of my group, Alex Li and Heidi Hau, and to all of the coaches and folks who made the seminar possible. See you next year! (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 5, 2010 16:20:12

Signs of practice

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Cellist Maria Simiz’s fingers, black with fingerboard varnish after practicing hard. SLSQ Summer Chamber Music Seminar 2010. echeng100627_0257851

Stanford, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jun 28, 2010 01:56:04

Animated musicians

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Cellist Roman Borys, pianist Jamie Parker, and violist Lesley Robertson

I’m delirious after reading chamber music until well past midnight. Good night!

Stanford, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jun 28, 2010 01:42:00

Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre with the New York Philharmonic

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I went to see György Ligeti’s opera, Le Grand Macabre, last night at Avery Fisher hall in Lincoln Center. The New York Philharmonic and a talented cast of singers performed the fully-staged performance, with Alan Gilbert conducting.

My mother told me that the staging was controversial because it was so avant-garde, but I’m not sure an opera completed in the mid 70s and revised in 1996 could be staged in a way that wasn’t avant-garde. (read more »)

New York, NY | link | trackb | no comments » | May 28, 2010 10:59:35

Vienna Teng / Alex Wong @ Yoshi’s SF

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Pam, Vienna Teng and Me

Pam, Laurel, Zandra and I went to see Vienna Teng and Alex Wong at Yoshi’s SF, and the show was absolutely fantastic! (“I concur,” Pam says)

I love the entire show, but two things stood out, in particular:

  1. Star Wars cantina theme song, snuck into In Another Life by Alex Wong on melodica
  2. A powerful performance of Radio, which had the perfect introductory anecdote about the inspiration of the song

Photos follow… (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 16, 2010 23:49:00

Photos from Stanford Chamber Chorale concert

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Here are some photos from tonight’s Stanford Chamber Chorale concert. Had a great time up there! Special thanks to Brad and Susan (and parents!), Tiffany Shih, Scott St. John, Geoff Nuttall, and Pam, for coming. :)


Andrew Lan and me. We’ve been playing together for 17 years!

More photos follow… (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | May 16, 2010 01:22:56

I’m performing this Sat, May 15, 2010

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I’m performing (on the cello) with the Stanford Chamber Chorale this coming Saturday, May 15, 2010 at Stanford Memorial Church:

8:00 P.M. Stanford Memorial Church
Admission: general $10 | senior $9 | student $5

The Chorale closes its formal 2009-2010 season with Poulenc’s Mass, and Fauré’s beloved Requiem.

Fauré Requiem is super moody and dark because it forgoes violins for violas. If for no other reason, you should come to the show to celebrate the viola! ;)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 10, 2010 17:15:47

Happy (early) birthday, Warren!

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It’s rare that surprise birthday parties actually work

Happy surprise birthday party, Warren! Not many people get to play with Livia and the SLSQ on their birthday — must have been the best gift ever. ;) (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Nov 11, 2009 03:05:43

The St. Lawrence String Quartet on Strad

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At the all-Hayden concert at Stanford today, Warren gave me a copy of the August 2009 issue of The Strad magazine, which features the St. Lawrence String Quartet on its cover. Congratulations, guys!

The concert was incredible. I had never heard Op. 54 No. 2 (in C major) before. I loved all of it, but the Adagio parts (2nd movement and 2 parts of the Finale) were incredibly moving. I was totally floored.

Geoff became a normal person again after the show, and after I recovered from my disbelief at his talent, I took him to the airport. Their schedule is crazy.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Nov 1, 2009 21:44:19

Let yourself feel

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San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Aug 24, 2009 17:26:19

Vienna Teng and Ang Lee @ KFOG, SF

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Ang Lee and Vienna Teng @ KFOG, San Francisco

I had an interesting morning accompanying Vienna Teng to KFOG for her 8am interview and live performance on the air. Director Ang Lee was on immediately preceding Vienna, and when he was finished with his interview, we were introduced to him in the hallway.

“It’s a Taiwan morning,” he said, after we introduced ourselves as having Taiwanese roots. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Aug 6, 2009 08:59:07

Stanford Symphonic Chorus concert

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Hanging out after the concert: Laural, Antoni, Eric, Pam and Thon

I really enjoyed performing with the Stanford Symphonic Chorus a week ago. Need to play cello more!

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 23, 2009 18:29:36
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