Enchanting Chinese Ceramics

Osaka, Japan, is usually off the radar of most tourists. It is Japan’s second largest city and contains many of the advantages of Tokyo on a slightly smaller scale. The food scene is one of the most exciting in Japan, with local specialties such as okonomiyaki (a version of a Japanese pizza cooked on a griddle with your choice of ingredients), unusual fish from the ocean nearby, and small restaurants that present Kushikatsu cooking of seemingly endless ingredients grilled on skewers.

The arts scene is also important, with three local symphony orchestras, lots of chamber music, and local theatre and opera such as Bunruku which combines traditional music with life-sized puppets in 500 year-old stories.

CREATIVITY’S PUZZLE – TADAO ANDO

Building upon what exists, creating that which does not exist — Culture is something that needs to be nurtured on top of accumulated history and memories.  . . . it is about creating a condition where the old and new coexist in a fine balance. 

This quote by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando is an accurate observation about the creative process. I recently had the opportunity to attend an important exhibition of his past and present work at the National Arts Center in Tokyo, Japan. I was unfamiliar with his architectural achievements and happy to learn more about this influential and accomplished person.

Edifice Complex continued

The Edifice Complex continues to rear its head — yet another new performing arts building is conceived with little thought to the art that will reside inside and outside. Juxtaposed articles in The Scotsman demonstrate clearly how a new building can exacerbate local problems with little interaction with local artists and the community’s music education institutions.

The Edifice Complex demonstrates the income inequality problems of the developed world that have evolved over the past few decades. Wealthy patrons in many cities want to justifiably indicate the maturity of their cultural scene through the construction of a world class facility for the performing arts or a museum to show their collection of priceless treasures.

Events vs. Culture

My observations of our world have a recurring theme —  ample resources exist alongside an inability to spend wisely. Whether looking for solutions to the pressing problems of the environment, education, or politics, people who control the money rarely look beyond their individual experience to explore what is best for their community.

In politics, each voice tries to scream the loudest to be heard rather than finding a compromise. We have charter schools with their own focus to the detriment of public education. The oil industry continues to deface our planet for profit. And in the cultural world, we throw money at status entertainment rather than developing paths to future creativity.

Ancient Vietnam in Hue

Madame Hoai hugged me following the performance by the Ancient Ensemble of Tonkin and said in Vietnamese — “America and Vietnam, we are friends.”

With the Ken Burns – Lynn Novick documentary “The Vietnam War” bringing a new perspective to our countries’ shared history, I am reflecting daily about my own personal journey over the past 12 years in this incredible country. My husband and I are honored to have been appointed in 2015 by Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture as Vietnam’s first American artistic advisors. This is a result of many years of work in the country with our ensemble as well as recognizing our assistance in founding the three-year old Hanoi New Music Ensemble.

The International Language

Music is truly the international language, able to be understood and experienced in any country around the world. I learned this on my first trip to Europe as a graduate student and member of the Boston University orchestra which had been chosen as one of ten orchestras worldwide to compete in the Herbert von Karajan competition in Berlin. Under the baton of the late Joseph Silverstein, we won second prize, and interacted with colleagues from all over the world for the two week festival. Before leaving for the tour, Mr. Silverstein admonished all of us to remember that we might be the first Americans the other musicians would meet, and that we were cultural ambassadors for our country. In other words, people would form their opinions of America from each of us.

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