Sinalunya Interviews: Huei Chiang
When someone would go to a concert of the Empordà Chamber Orchestra, he or she would possibly be surprised to discover that the first violinist and assistant concertmaster is a young lady from East Asian origin. Her name is
Q: You have been living in
R: It’s a tricky question! I wouldn’t say that in general the Catalan people are open to foreigners; people are nice and friendly in this region, but it doesn’t mean that they would try to make you “feel like home” in this country. From my part, in my fifth year in
Then I realized that speaking the local language is not the main thing which makes you feel being a part of a society, it helps, but what’s really important is if we “want” to understand and communicate with each other! Here I’ve seen the worst and the best qualities of people; I have some very good Catalan friends, and I don’t think that they would like me any less if we speak Spanish to each other!
Q: You were hired as first violinist and you were only 19 years old at that time. Were your fellow colleagues with the orchestra surprised to have you there? How was their acceptance? And what has been the evolution of your role there?
R: I don’t really know what they thought of me during that time! Maybe too young to be working?! But I was a good player then, and they were my first friends in this country!
What I’ve been doing in the past 11 years is to take as much advantage as I can from this work: I love playing as a soloist and I’m very fortunate to have many chances to be accompanied by my own orchestra. They are my colleagues who support me, and I’ve learned so much by being on the stage as a soloist -controlling one’s nerves and mental state, building up one’s presence and self confidence…
When I first entered the orchestra, I was a first violin tutti and then became the assistant concertmaster (the second chair in the first violin group), which means sometimes that I also do the concertmaster’s work while he is on leave. Being in that chair is a challenge, because then you really feel the responsibility right on your shoulders -how can you make your group sound better together? And be 100 % sure for your orchestra because they rely on you. All together it has been a good training for my personal growth.
R: Taiwanese people are fascinated by foreign cultures. They used to be very American influenced, and then both the Japanese culture and the Korean cultures have also played quite an important role in the recent past. In the last 15 years, every time when I get back home I’m so amazed to see how international the place has become. In big cities you’ll find European cafes, restaurants even better decorated than here, and getting good Italian, French or even Spanish food is no rarity. As Taiwanese are open to things coming from the outside, people like to change their taste every now and then (the speed of fashion is much quicker there), basically nothing stays the same for more than 2-4 months, and people would have to keep renovating, reinventing their products in order to catch the public’s attention. Catalan people are very smart in relation to economy, what I would suggest is to understand Taiwanese people’s tendencies and needs: healthy products such as olive oil and grape seed oil, they also appreciate wine, cheese (in the supermarket you can get all kinds of cheese, possibly more varieties even than here!). As for dealing with businessmen there, I really have no idea, because there are all kinds of people! Some people can be direct and honest, some can be “never reject you” in front of your face, but they wouldn’t do what they’ve promised, but they will always be friendly and polite with you.
Q: Talking about
R: I think all Taiwanese people would say the same thing: FOOD!!! The food is wonderful there. I also miss the people who I love (family and friends) and all the traditional Chinese holidays -by doing the celebration you really notice that the people have great respect towards our ancestors, our gods and ghosts. We treat the spirits, the unknown, with respect and indirectly that makes the place full of warmth. Every Chinese holiday has an interesting, sometimes even romantic story behind it. Unlike the western holidays, Chinese holidays have very little to do with religion but more with seasons and mythology.
Another thing I miss are the bookstores in
And what would I bring from Catalonia, food wise? As for presents I often bring
Q: Are there any cultural interactions between
R: I don’t think there is such an exchange between these two places, a lot of Asian people still haven’t heard of “
Q: What are your highlights of your life and career here? And what are your projects for the near future?
R: What a question! I didn’t win any special “gold medal” to have golden lights shining all over me! I’m a violinist and I enjoy playing, when I do a good performance and feel the audience responds to me, this makes me complete, these are the moments I appreciate in life.
As for my projects- I have something that I have to keep secret yet, because I want to be one of the first people who present such a thing in the world. When I get it finally planned and settled, I’ll be glad to publish the news on the site!!! (
Q: Finally, please let us know a little bit more about yourself by telling us your tastes:
A book: About Love and Solitude by
An actor or actress:
A song or musical piece:
A dish from Taiwanese cuisine: Everything!
A dish from Catalan cuisine:
A wish: To experience and live every moment
The above questions are too difficult to just answer one, especially about music and musicians; there are so many things which I love, so many composers and performers… So when I name one, it means- Everyone, Everything!
Finally, let’s enjoy the incredibly talented