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22 May 98 -- China: 5000 Years / Guggenheim Museum, NYC
Saw some music related artifacts. One statue was of either Avalokitesvara or Guanyin (Can't tell from my notes.) The figure was described as "One who contemplates (the world's) sounds."
  There was also a set of small clay figures that dated from the Han dynasty (206 BC - AD 220). They'd been found in 1972 in the Mawangdui tomb in Hunan province. They were a group of musicians; 3 were playing zithers and 2 were playing mouth organs with tall reeds (The latter are instruments that sound like harmonicas and they looked like those played by Lao or Hmong folk musicians.)

17 April 99 -- Met Eric Nakamura, publisher and co-editor of Giant Robot magazine at a film festival at Johns Hopkins U. What (music) has he been listening to? This is what he told me:

Hannover 1999 - New Music festival


  "Der fremde Klang": China - Japan - Korea

    Tradition and Avantgarde in East Asian music

Composition Competition Results

entries: 85 scores from 28 countries

First Prize - none

Second Prize (DM 6000 each):

Kumiko Omura (Japan): "Imaginary Bridge"
Wencheng Qin (China): "He-Yi: unify"
Eugene Shin (Korea): Mandala for Seven Instruments"

Third Prize (DM 3500 each):

Kirsty Beilharz (Australia): "The White Face of the Geisha"
Gyu-Bong Yi (Korea): "Ceremony for Chamber Ensemble"

8 May 99 -- Making Asian American Space in the Music Industry / Hirshhorn Museum, Wash.,D.C.
 :  I caught much of the slide & video talk by Dr. Deborah Wong (musicologist at UC Riverside) titled, "Asian Americans in the Music Industry." She showed slides of recordings by:

She even showed a video clip of the Mountain Brothers, when they were just starting out. They seemed a bit self-concious and tentative in their movements.
  The next phase was a Q&A of the rap group from Philadelphia, The Mountain Brothers. With them, on stage, were their manager, Amelia Moore, and DJ Roli Rho (member of the 5th Platoon collective outta NY). Roli was comin' off of winning an eastern regional battle DJ conference held the week before in DC.
  The discussion ranged from how they created their songs to what their parents thought about their music making. What I found quite interesting was their experience with Ruffhouse Records, whose roster includes Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Cypress Hill. (By the way, does anyone know if Ruffhouse suffered a recent split by the original partners?) Their contract with Ruffhouse took 6 months to negotiate. One thing that some of the record company folks wanted them to do was to work with different producers to make their songs sound like the trend of the day. (At least that's the feeling of the Mtn. Bros.)
Eventually, they were able to terminate or get out of the contract, and recently released an album on their own. It's titled, Self: Volume I.
  The final part of the program was an outdoors performance in the Hirshhorn courtyard. (Snapshots will be posted.)

9 May 99 -- Interviewed Jamorn Supapol, a Thai pianist who is returning to Thailand to teach piano at Silpakorn University. He's been living and studying in Baltimore, where we met. He translated song titles on some Thai CD's that I have.
  One trend, that I asked him about was the large number of Asians in music conservatories. (Supapol had gone to Manhattan in NY and Peabody in Baltimore.) He wasn't sure about reasons for all the different Asian groups, but said that, one time, someone had explained to him why there was a large number of women from Korea in music school. (The following may be apocryphal, so I seek anyone's confirmation or disagreement.) It seems that many Korean women are engaged to be married when they enter music school. At the same time, their fiancées are doing time in the military, fulfilling their Korean military obligations. So the suggestion is that the women are going to school to kill time, till they can join their future spouses.

16 May 99 -- Interviewed Kevin So, a singer/songwriter in the folk and acoustic blues veins. Based in Boston, he's built up a good fan base, there. While often playing in clubs and coffehouses in New England, he does travel elsewhere from time to time. Last month, for example, he toured Switzerland with a drummer. He said he received a great response, and is hoping to return in November.
(I caught up with him at the IOTA club in Arlington, VA.)

21 May 99 -- voilà voilà / Hebbel Theater, Berlin.
Attended a performance of this dance-theater (tanztheater) and music work by Ea Sola, a hapa (Vietnamese/French) choreographer based in Paris. The piece draws on Vietnamese traditions, but also employs modern and non-traditional ideas. Sola has created an interesting work that may resonate, at times, with Vietnamese, yet has an aesthetic sense that appeals to non-Vietnamese. Audiences in New York (Lincoln Center) and Chicago will have a chance to see it in July and October, respectively.

23 May 99 -- Had an expresso machiato at a new Italian cafe / restaurant / bar in Berlin (Mitte, on Rosenthaler Str.) called, Cibo Matto. It's doubtful that there's any connection to the expat Japanese duo in NY, but how did the owner come up with this particular name? I wanted to ask if they played the group's music over the sound system, but they were quite busy with customers.

25 May 99 -- Briefly interviewed Petra Klaus, manager of a non-commercial radio station in Frankfurt, Radio X (97.1 FM). She hosts a monthly radio show and dj's a monthly club gig. Both efforts are devoted to South Asian dance music from the UK and share the name, Indian Vibes.

26 May 99 -- Vom Eise befreit; Neue Musik zu Goethes Sicht der Natur / Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt.
Attended a contemporary classical music concert by the Ensemble Phorminx (based in Darmstadt). The program (roughly translated to be), Freed from Ice: New Music towards Goethe's View of Nature, was but one of many events in 1999 commemorating the 250th birth anniversary of this most famous German poet and playwrite.
  One of the pieces was composed by an expat Korean, Younghi Pagh-Pann. Of the 6 composers' works, Nicolaus Huber's Lob des Granits seemed to be the most amusing. How can one not be tickled by a piece which requires a pistol shot and the sound of leaves plucked from a branch?!

1 June 99 -- Interviewed Albert Kuvezin of the Tuvan folk rock group, Yat-Kha. (Also talked with their manager, Lu Edmonds.) Yat-Kha's music is simple in structure, but strong and often rhythmic like a galloping horse. The throat singing is, undoubtedly, an arresting sound. (A reviewer once likened it to an electric shavor coming out of one's throat. Not a bad analogy, I'd say.) The music is pretty much unadulterated, and band members often play non-western instruments.

13 June 99 -- Turned on the radio and happened to catch part of a public radio music program, Sound & Spirit (produced at WGBH, Boston). For this particular week, the theme was about monkeys. Among the excerpts played were:

7 July 99 -- Went to a club in Baltimore to catch the Japanese neo-punk (?) group, Melt Banana (MB). Well, it seems that they'd cancelled. (The show, itself, wasn't cancelled, as the other bands on the bill carried on.) The show's booker, Todd Lesser (publisher of the 'zine, monozine), told me that the band had called from Richmond, Virginia a couple hours earlier. He was told that the band's van had broken down and they couldn't make the gig. (It's interesting to speculate on the veracity of that excuse, given that the band was due to play in Richmond the next day. The night before, MB had played in Philadelphia (about 1.5+ hours drive north of Baltimore). Lesser was told that they had driven to Richmond (about 3 hrs. SOUTH of Baltimore) to visit a friend.
  Perhaps they wanted a break from touring. (According to their schedule, they'd been touring nonstop for at least 9 days (probably more).) Or maybe they don't like Baltimore. Or maybe there really was someone they wanted to see in Richmond, tonight. Whatever...
  The booker said it was too bad that they cancelled, because he felt the show would've attracted a good-sized crowd due to some publicity. Of course, since the band cancelled their appearance, he was under no obligation to pay them. He said that if he had cancelled within 2 weeks of the show date, then he would've had to pay them 50% of their fee. (Probably a standard practice.)

  Incidentally, the current ish of monozine (#6) is subtitled, "the rock issue." The 'zine has broken with its usual practice of printing stories of illness and health care sent in by readers. For this issue, Lesser had asked alternative rock bands for their stories. He got stuff from a number of folks, including Ian Mackaye of Fugazi, Rebecca Gates of the Spinanes, Jim Wilbur of Superchunk, Clint Takeda of Bardo Pond, and Patrick Ramos of Versus.

10 July 99 -- Follow-up interview with Albert Kuvezin of Yat-Kha. The group played at Baltimore's annual ArtScape festival. Their tour manager, Jerry, told me that festivals pay better than clubs, but tend to be more disorganized.
For this mini-tour, the band had flown in from Moscow, via London and New York. Jerry, who lives in western Massachusetts, had rented a van and met them at Kennedy airport. Next weekend, they return to New York and play in Central Park as part of an all-Wicklow artists line-up. (Wicklow is a world music label headed by Paddy Maloney of the Chieftains. The label is distributed (?) by the BMG Classical Music division.)

17 July 99 -- Went to a nighttime, outdoors performance of Najma (Akhtar) and Church of Betty at the Freer Gallery steps facing the Mall in DC. Najma is the Indo-Brit singer who's released a handful of recordings over the years that has conveyed South Asian vocal styles and forms with western (and Indian) instruments backing her up. Most of the songs she sang this evening were from the Forbidden Kiss album that she recorded with the same band, Church of Betty. (This album, on the Shanachie label, covers filmi or Hindi film  songs written by the famous composer, S.D. Burman.) This evening's gig was the 2nd of a 3-city tour. The day before, they'd played in Philly, and the following night, they were to play at the Knitting Factory in NYC. I don't believe that Najma has toured the United States, so this appearance was quite extraodinary. The crowd took a little while to warm up (probably because the temperature was quite warm and a bit oppressive at first - something Najma remarked on), but by the end, she had the audience on their feet.

[Interestingly enough, the leader of the band, Chris Rael, grew up in the Washington metropolitan area. In fact, he went to the same high school(s) as the Freer/Sackler Galleries programs coordinator and mc, Michael Wilpers. (You can see the latter in the background of a picture taken of composer Tan Dun autographing a cd.) Rael and his band are based in NYC.]

Before launching into one of the songs, Rael said to the crowd, "I hope Bill has his window closed." It wasn't obvious what he was referring to, although it crossed my mind that by Bill, he meant President Clinton. As the song ensued, he would yelp some words (no doubt emulating the original Hindi soundtrack). Then at one point in the song, he shouted out "Monicaaaa! I loooove youuuu!" Then, I understood his earlier warning.

6 August 99 -- my sister says she went to see the Susie Ibarra Trio play at Tonic in NY this evening. The trio includes Ibarra on drums, Charles Burnham on violin, and Cooper-Moore on piano. (I should note that my sister has a deep background in classical piano, having taken many years of lessons.) She writes of them: "...the pianist is good, but rather provocative in his manner, the violinist gets some amazing (if not entirely listenable always) sounds out of his instrument... She [Ibarra] has a rather shy stage demeanor but her music is fairly interesting, tho I don't know experimental music/jazz that well. She has great delicacy and expressivity drumming, tho I can't quite figure out how she decides what to go with what. In some of the instrumental pieces her drumming is a strange overlay that forces me to listen to it, kind of like another texture. I think I like what she's doing, even if I'm a fairly ignorant listener."

7 August 99 -- Tried to see Cibo Matto at the Recher Theatre in Towson, Maryland. They were supposed to be playing with Luscious Jackson (also based in NYC), but they cancelled. (LJ did not.) It's not a big deal to me, since I saw Cibo Matto back around March.


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