Musiktheater Kammerspiele im Haus der Musik Innsbruck, als Violine Solistin bei “Tiroler Ensemble für Neue Musik TENM”
Musiktheater Kammerspiele im Haus der Musik Innsbruck, als Violine Solistin bei “Tiroler Ensemble für Neue Musik TENM”
Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen – Fassung für Streichseptett von Rudi Leopold
Eurasica Quartett + VIOLINE Agnieszka Kulowska, Huei Chiang VIOLA Philip Nolte CELLO Hsing-Yi Maurer-Chen VIOLA Tomo Moriyama CELLO Veit Wenk-Wolff a.G. KONTRABASS Andreas Flemming
Kammermusik Konzert am 04, 07, 2020 Haus der Musik Innsbruck
Yesterday was Friday 13th March 2020. The turning point for the Austrian citizens (and for most European countries) was that we were informed that from the next Monday on, all the shops will be shut down except supermarkets, banks, post offices and hospitals (not to mention that all the institutions and cultural events have been closed/cancelled for a few days now).
I found the news somewhat comforting. Although there are no events or social gatherings to go to (for our own benefit, and to protect others) but as long as the grocery stores are open, and we can get our basic needs, we will have enough entertainment for daily life – thanks to the internet, online courses… and maybe some families will finally have time to cook or have dinner together!
11 o’clock in the morning, I went to the Hofer supermarket in a shopping centre near my home, just intending to get some food for the weekend. I passed by the toilet paper area and was surprised to find that it was empty already. A man asked the staff whether there is some more in stock and the staff suggested he shop online and have them delivered…
What is this obsession with toilet paper, if we were assured that the supermarkets will be open? Why there are so many picture jokes about toilet paper on the internet, chats, and still people are panicking about not having enough? And why this fear that when we see some people buying more than they need, we feel pressure to do the same?
‘Corona time’ is the time to reflect on our own behaviour. If the current situation is teaching us to live with the minimum, to only have the essentials in a minimalist style, why can’t we be less selfish? Didn’t we realise yet that we live in a world where we’re so connected, that when one person sneezes in China, five continents shake?
I went home, feeling sad and disappointed with human nature. I wish the federal president of Austria would make another nice speech to calm the citizens’ fear of not having enough toilet paper at home!
I started to think, what can I do to be more useful to the people/to the world and at the same time to combine my creativity in the “Corona staycation”? -Something I love doing but didn’t have time for? And that’s how I started to write this article.
I’m challenging myself to write everyday, to learn something new (it can be about a famous artist, musician or dancer, or any new subject. Or writing a poem, simply to dive into creativity), and to share them with you (as short versions). And hopefully to share some inspiration around.
The first person who came into my mind, was Nina Simone (1933-2003). After talking to a dear friend on FaceTime, I learned that there is documentary about her, and luckily it is on Netflix. The title is: “What Happened, Miss Simone?”
I remember the first time I listened to Nina Simone was almost 20 years ago, and at that time I couldn’t listen to her for long because I found that there is something in her voice which attracts me but also hurts me at the same time, like there is too much sadness. I then paid more attention to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, and I totally forgot about Nina till I got the “dance crush” for swing dancing.
It was one social dance evening, that night the music was focussed at a faster tempo so we were supposed to dance shag or balboa. As a musician I pay very much attention to the music we dance to, and suddenly I realised that our DJ had put on a piece of music which was original and fantastically played. It was fast piano music, you would recognise that the pianist had tremendous skills and flew all over the keyboard.
I had to ask what that was. The answer was – Nina Simone.
Damn! I thought that she was only a singer with a very special, almost masculine voice, but I didn’t know that she was a piano virtuoso!
“Oh yes, her childhood dream was to become the very first black concert pianist” – our DJ lady told me.
So today, by watching this documentary I came to know her, and now I know why her intensity scared me for so long! – her life was a drama!
First of all, I don’t need to explain how much struggle black people had in that time in the U.S. Her talent was recognised by two white ladies and she began to study the piano seriously with them at the age of eight. Her childhood was like that of typical classical musicians; we spend long hours practising on our own. The worst of all was that when she had free time she wanted to play with other kids, but the white kids rejected her, and the black kids only wanted her to play the piano so that they could dance to the music! She never felt that she belonged to any of the two groups.
She didn’t become a jazz singer of her own will, but she had no other choice!
She wanted to study at the Curtis Institute but wasn’t accepted because of her race. After some time she ran out of money, and then started to work as a pianist in a night club, working from twelve to seven straight through. Apparently the manager told her on the second day, that if she wanted to stay in the job, instrumental piano music was not enough, she would have to sing. And that’s how she started singing.
For me it was hard to imagine, that someone could produce such beautiful music out of survival needs! She couldn’t have the career she wanted, but she transformed her emotions, struggles and thoughts into her performances. She is someone that once you listened to her voice, you’d recognise the next time immediately!
There is one song I like particularly (to dance to), which is called “My baby just cares for me”. The text is sweet and the tune is very light-hearted, when I dance to it I can almost fall in love with the dance partner no matter who that is! Nina first sang the song when she was 29, and she continued performing this song through out her career. But I wonder who was “that baby” she thinking about? Her husband or other lovers?
Her husband was her best manager; from the documentary we could see that they were madly in love and that he was good for her in the early years. He made her career grew worldwide and she made her debut at Carnegie Hall- her dream of being a pianist in the most prestigious hall, but not playing Bach! But while they were together he beat her up; Nina couldn’t leave him because she loved him and he organised her concerts. There is no surprise that later she suffered from depression because of the busy concert schedule and the family violence. When she couldn’t live with her husband any more, she went to Africa looking for her own peace, brought her daughter with her and also started to beat her up!
There is a lot to tell about Nina. She was an activist, she sang a lot of civil rights songs to awaken young black people. But what inspired me especially in the documentary was the bit where she talked about “freedom”, “being free”. She was actually referring the magic of piano playing on the stage, that she felt free, and freedom for her means “without fear”.
Remember this came from an artist who didn’t have the freedom to choose her own career!
Why am I talking about this? I know it’s strange to mix Nina Simone and the toilet paper business, but this is exactly what’s happening right now.
The fear of lockdown and of this dramatic change, are making people lose their minds. Because our brains like what we’re used to, any change tends to make us feel insecure. To have less is making us feeling uncomfortable, although some changes can be beneficial.
We had too much and never questioned if we needed that much.
We polluted our environment by overdoing everything: the flights, the factories, the cars, the ships, the over produced clothes, the animal farming…
This is the exact right time to reflection what’s important for us, what’s the true value, who/what do you care for, and what does it mean to “go back to normal”? And if it does all go back to normal, do we want the world to be the same as before? What can we do to make it better?
We had too much freedom but too little love, too little care for the people and the world we’re living in…
In several chats in Badoo (yes, it’s a dating app)
Some men ask me: what do you do?
I say: I am a professional musician. I am a violinist.
They continue to ask: so what’s your main job?
I have to laugh about it, maybe feeling bit offended, but mostly out of the amazement that nowadays in Europe, where classical music was born, some people don’t believe that one can make a living by playing.
It shows that our world of classical music is so disconnected from reality. And yet the irony is, the purpose of making any kind of art is to relate to others.
Let me tell you a little bit about becoming a professional musician:
I was lucky to fall in love with music, at an early age
I chose an instrument, or the violin chose me
So that I learned to express my feelings without words.
Love at first sight; it could be destiny or intuition.
While other kids were playing around,
We learned to play through strong determination and discipline.
Sometimes even to the point where we were so fed up, so bored, so lonely, so defeated…
We kept going, solving the technical problems along the way.
Once I was happy to finish my practice in the afternoon,
My dad asked me: how many times do you eat per a day?
I said: 3
My dad: so go to practice some more in the evening!
We are the crazy ones who choose a passion and make it a profession.
Not even knowing if doing so is going to bring us money.
It’s a profession that transforms our being, we are slaves of what we love.
We set goals to enter competitions and conservatories, or to get a job in an orchestra,
Sometimes during the process, the pressure, the practice, the anxiety
Makes us forget that playing was meant to be fun.
That making music was a journey of self love.
We learned how to deal with solitude,
We learned about team work while playing chamber music,
We learned about how to let go of our ego, but not our being (my sound still has to be heard)
And also to be a strong presence when I am on my own.
My favorite moment is not how well I play, how I impress people on the stage
But when I bring some audience to tears through music.
It’s when I express emotion, and to sense that I’m communicating with the sea of people, that something touches their memories or creates a new sensation, and a wave of energy comes back to me.
I can’t move people if they are not tuned in to me, if they don’t want to be moved.
A wonderful performance requires that the both parties are attentive and open.
I’m not the only artist in the hall, but we all are.
It is like loving someone.
We have a proper degree like any other field of study, from bachelor to doctorate, the only difference is that before we enter a university, we’ve already been learning an instrument since we were five.
Once you start earning by playing
It is like any other job
You get bored but you keep playing
You play stuff you like or you hate
You complain about the conductors
You lose the passion from time to time
But it is your duty to seek inspiration
To fall back in love with your dedication
Yes, Music is what I do but not what I am or who I am
Life is much bigger than music itself
The richer your life, the more you can tell a story
The more I love, the more I live
By loving music, music also gives me something in return
The courage to take risks, to trust, to be brave,
To be open to surprises on the stage, to be spontaneous, to accept that life just goes wrong sometimes, but you’ll find a way to go on.
To learn what suggestions you should listen to carefully, and what to ignore
To be in a meditative state in which our minds become no-minds
Only because I’m doing something I’m meant to do
And in this world there is no I, no you, no others
It’s being here and now.
We spend years to become musicians
To create an art which no one can grab with their hand, which no one can see.
When you hear a note
The next second it’s already gone
A very bad investment- to be honest
But it has an amazing power to heal people’s heart, including our own.
The sensation stays, a momentary feeling becomes long lasting.
Sometimes I say to people
That my longest relationship ‘til now is 13 years,
But my relationship with music lasts way longer.
It was a love discovered in my childhood,
Grows with crisis – when I felt so burnt out, desperate to give up and to find something else to do
But when I was losing myself, not knowing where I should be going
Holding the violin in my hands made me find my way again
I am not the same musician as I was ten years ago
With the same piece I’ll perform differently
The feeling stays true but the content is never alike, even though they are the same notes.
I can only speak for myself
But in this modern world where relationships have many forms, such as
“Friends with benefits”, polyamory…
Music has taught me
What a deep and passionate monogamy feels like.
What is loneliness? Loneliness is simple to explain, it’s when you are in a zone that is not connected to the outside world or to others. You can feel lonely both in the crowd and in solitude. You constantly magnify your thoughts in this world of your own, even double their power, because at this time you just want to (or chose to) live your own feelings – you think too much about yourself! (No one cares about you, no one cares what you are doing, you want to find a friend to hang out with, but everyone is busy with their family or career, because you are a rare single person at your age in this society…)
As for artists, solitude matters, because if you can’t enjoy being alone, you can’t practice or create. No calm, no wisdom .
However, when you are alone, please don’t forget to love yourself, truly cherish yourself, encourage yourself, and talk to yourself with the language of love and motivation. In fact, you know that love is not to chase after, and the more you look for it, the more eager you are, you just let love run farther and farther away…
We always pursue things we don’t have. When you can’t see love in you, “love” can’t see you either.
Don’t think about what you don’t have, don’t criticize why you haven’t fulfilled your dreams, don’t feel that you haven’t done well enough. Taking care of your own thoughts is the first lesson of loving yourself.
Your being is love – why do you search for it? And sharing love is the only way to feel connected, to not feel lonely.
To help others, to move people with art, to act and to express concern for loved ones and friends. We share love with words, with music, with literature, with creation, with mathematics, with teaching, with architecture, with pop culture, with a smile to strangers… It turns out that we so want to connect with others, but this is because both loneliness and love exist at the same time.
So don’t be afraid of loneliness, everyone was born alone and will die alone, what’s more to be feared is to have an unloving heart.
If you can feel love when you are alone, that you are grateful for what’s available around you, you’ll find that even being on your own, that you are able to cook, to eat, to wash, and to walk healthily, to jog, to exercise… how wonderful it is just simply living! How nice it is that when missing my family and friends, I can get through on the phone and talk to them, to share the little things in life! Even though right now I can only brush my teeth with my left hand and slowly finish an article with my left hand… I still have a left hand available, what a godsend!
We often are so absorbed in everyday life, and forget that life is a miracle. To find some little things which make us smile everyday is paradise on earth.
So this time, I went from a lonely heartache to a physical pain. But in the process of healing, I learned to “love myself.”
As a professional violinist to have a cycling accident, which caused a broken collarbone, to have at least a month on sick leave, is not funny. But don’t worry, it’s not a story about self- pity, or how sad it has been not to be able to play for a while. Sadness has its own value in existence, and our mind can create immense energy which can suddenly bring us into a positive state.
My accident was simple. The official version I’ve told people was that that I was riding home from work, just a few meters from where I live, and I looked up the mountains as it was a beautiful sunny day, I thought about what I should do later in the afternoon, and at the same time I hit the curb, lost my balance, fell off the bike and somehow landed on my right shoulder very badly. And because it was so painful, that it reminded me of the car accident I had 15 years ago, so I decided to go to the emergency room straight away. I wanted to get checked that I didn’t break anything, to make sure that I’ll be ok to play in a day or two, but unfortunately the X-ray showed that I had broken my collarbone.
This is the actual fact, but I didn’t tell everyone about my emotions, what was really happening the moment I crashed.
I was sad, and I had been sad for a while. I had had a very poor sleep pattern for almost a month, because of a “similar situation” of a heart-break. Letting go of a relationship which never happened. In fact, specifically that week I had decided to focus my energy on my personal progress in life, I was planning things I wanted to do, to be active in every aspect.
The moment I looked up the mountains, I was just thinking what I’d like to do in such beautiful weather: I could have a stroll in the forest, go running, do yoga in my garden… and suddenly I asked myself: why am I doing all these beautiful things alone?
This immense inexplicable loneliness, sadness filled my heart, and in a second my eyes were filled with tears. The next thing I knew was that I fell off, I was on the ground, and I experienced a physical pain much worse than my loneliness.
In a way I was still very lucky, there was a nice woman behind me who got off her motorbike and helped me, a farmer in a truck stopped and asked if he should call the ambulance… and besides the collarbone I didn’t hurt my head or break any fingers!
I was in shock of course, and I did cry when the doctor said that I had broken my collarbone and couldn’t play for a month. After a few days of only using the left arm and hand, I realised that it has been a hard lesson to teach me to cherish every movement I can, every moment that I can enjoy.
I realised how precious it is when I am on my own being absolutely healthy. The ability to be a good violinist or a musician, is not a coincidence. I somehow didn’t value what I’ve achieved, instead I had always looked at the things I didn’t have, the goals I am chasing, and asked why I didn’t succeed. In a way I could say that I didn’t love myself enough.
Do you know how good that feels, when you get dressed/undressed freely moving your arms? Brushing your teeth normally without thinking how to do it? To comb your hair? To go shopping carrying stuff with both hands? To be able to jog and do stretching movements? At this moment I am also thankful that I can use my left hand to type this article.
We take how things are or the abilities we have for granted because they have been normal for us.
I had a conversation some time ago with friends, and I said that after a certain age I’ve found that life is just boring, that we all know that actually life is empty, nothing stays and everything changes, and what we’ve been doing is just to fulfil ourselves, to discover things we are passionate about, to motivate ourselves in order to live meaningfully. But my friend answered that the fact that we’re born, that life is given to us by our parents, is already a huge gift.
An accident like mine didn’t happen for no reason, and deep down I knew that I caused it to happen, that I asked for a hard lesson. The same mind which had gathered so many negative thoughts can gather positive energies as well, if I choose to look at my life differently! But it seems easier to be hard on ourselves than to be kind.
So right now, I’m taking time to heal myself – physically and emotionally, to breathe in and out slowly, to see a little joy every day, to cook slowly with my left hand, to ask for help when I need it, to watch the autumn leaves turning red and yellow, and to see the wind blowing the dancing leaves.
The month I had decided to do lots of things turns out to be a rest month, but what changes inside me is more than the external things I can do.
你覺得沒人關心你, 愛你, 要你, 想你, 或是想要與你接近…
好像你做什麼, 都只為了生活, 為了達成一些目標, 為了不想讓家人擔心。
有時你太活在自己的想法中, 忘了想法其實只如同你的衣裳, 你穿上什麼顏色, 會有什麼感覺。你忘了你是思想的主人, 你的思想並不是你。
所以你自憐自艾, 看著眼前的山川美景, 竟覺得無人可以分享, 你讓淚水模糊了視線！
下一秒, 你摔倒了！摔得這麼重, 這傷痛竟比你的心痛更刺骨！
醫生說：右肩鎖骨骨折了, 要請病假, 一個月無法拉小提琴了！
你當初不敢相信！你本想去醫院做檢查, 是因為這錐心刺骨痛的不正常, 你只想確定沒有大礙, 沒有骨折, 兩天後便能拉琴了！
當你接受這事實時, 你流了眼淚。你本想從現在開始, 全心專注在如何讓自己活得更好, 忙一點, 不再孤單。
或是說, 這意外讓你有了更多的時間獨處, 與自己的心接近, 找回愛你的心！
什麼是孤獨？孤獨很簡單, 就是當你身在與外界或與他人沒有連接的地帶。你可以在人群中孤獨, 在獨處時孤獨。你在自我的世界不斷地把自己想法放大, 雙倍的放大, 因為此時你只想活在自己的感覺中, 你把自己想的太重要了！（沒人理你, 沒人在乎你在做什麼, 你想找朋友每個人卻忙著自己的家庭或事業, 因為你是社會裡,這把年紀中少有的單身者…）
身為藝術創作者, 孤單有它的價值, 因為你若不會獨處, 你便無法練習或創作, 無靜不生慧。
可是, 孤獨時, 請別忘了愛自己, 真正深刻的愛惜自己, 鼓勵自己, 多對自己說些激勵的愛的語言。事實上, 你知道愛是追求不來的, 你越是尋找, 找的心急卻讓愛越跑越遠…
我們總是追尋自己沒有的事物。 當你在你身上看不到愛時, “愛”也看不到你。
不要再想著自己沒有的東西, 不要再批評自己沒達到的願望, 不要再覺得自己什麼都做得不夠好了。善護念－照顧自己的思想, 是愛自己的第一課。
你的存在, 就是愛－為什麼苦苦向外尋找呢？而分享愛, 是真正能脫離孤獨感的方法。
幫助別人, 以藝術感動人, 以行動來表示對親人與朋友的關心, 以言語, 以音樂, 以文學, 以創作, 以數學, 以教學,以建築, 以流行文化, 以一個對陌生人的微笑… 原來我們多想與他人結合, 不過這初始, 都是因為孤獨與愛並存著。
所以不用怕孤獨, 每個人都是一個人來, 一個人走, 怕的是一顆孤獨沒有愛的心。
當你能在孤單時感覺到愛, 對萬物感激時, 你發現了即使一個人, 你能自己做菜吃飯, 洗碗, 能健康地走路, 慢跑, 做做運動…光是簡單的生活, 是多美好！想念家人朋友, 打通電話與他們聊聊, 和他們在一起分享生活小事, 多好！有工作有個小小溫暖的家, 多好！即使我現在只能用左手刷牙, 洗頭, 用左手慢慢地打完一篇文章…我還有左手可用, 多好！
我們常在柴米油鹽醬醋茶中, 忘了生命原本就是個奇蹟, 而在每天每日中, 發現一些讓你微笑的人事物, 就是小天堂了！
這回, 我由孤獨的心痛到生理的傷痛, 在療癒的過程中, 重新學會了“愛自己”。
Newly met strangers
What energy brings them together?
Natural human kindness?
Coincidence – that two people share something in common?
Exchanging thoughts about
Family, traveling, money, relationships…
As if they’ve known each other before
Sitting in front of Notre Dame
Walking through the valley of St-Louis
Winds blow softly
From afar, guitar tunes accompany people’s laughter
Like music, like noise
Yet the tower’s lights shine over the Parisian sky.
If some of the most beautiful things happen in the moments when you least expect,
You may not
Expect the unexpected to ever happen again
– That may be the way that someone looks after you –
Let it be
Let it happen
Let it go
The momentary connection stays in a traveler’s heart
That night by the river Seine
A beautiful summer night in Paris.
She’s smiling while you’re taking pictures of her
Sitting on the grass in your mystical forest
Sun comes shining through…
“Such a brilliant smile with positive energy! I love it”
– Your comment.
But truly, she hides her aching heart behind the smile
Even when she looks at the pictures herself
She believes that she is happy
The sadder she gets, the more she laughs
The more beautiful her smile is, the more her heart breaks into pieces
Your visit soothes her, allows her to look at her surroundings with different eyes
To escape from the aloneness
One of the reasons why she loves to have visitors
Things always get very interesting toward the end,
When it’s time to say goodbye
You are facing ever more tasks in life, but you’re explaining some of the NLP techniques to her. You want her to believe that she really can have what she wants and deserves, that she can change from her inner self.
“Life takes our hands and leads us to our goals”.
She follows your words and imagines herself doing the exercises, tries to feel the words bringing warmth and positivity… and suddenly found herself crying.
She doesn’t know what happened, maybe she is moved by your concern and your wanting to help, or because it’s the moment to say goodbye to a dear friend, or something breaks her from the old self; that she really wants to change, from the bottom of her soul.
To escape from the changing, or the opportunity to change has made her comfortable, and scared at the same time. She has chosen not to complain, but to shut herself up and not to think about the reality.
Through your shining eyes you said
“There are 7 opportunities to change our lives everyday – according to some psychologists”
She knows. In fact she knows a lot already, but her lack of motivation has been holding her back. She knows that too…
I don’t know how true it is
That god only gives you what you can handle
But you’re certainly one of the angels being sent to her
She cries while hugging you
Smiles while leaving you
She knows that
Some deep sorrow she’s experienced today
She’ll explain with laughter years later.
Wherever there is a bridge
People just start to put the locks on
Paris, Hamburg, Salzburg, Cologne, Prague…
Locks with different shapes and colours,
With the full names or just the initials,
With or without the dates on them…
You smiled and said:
“Something actually lasts longer than love itself!”
Yes, what a ridiculous thing that people do (when they are in love)
They lose their senses, make a romantic idea to stay together forever
They stand in the middle of the bridge,
Kiss and feel loved
(Maybe take a few selfies)
Put the heavy locks on
Throw the key away in the river
And yet, when we pass the locked-up bridge
We always wonder: how many romances have survived?
Our actions are the results of how we see the world –
A human being is not stupid
We do understand that life is in a constant state of change
Therefore we aim for the everlasting
We want a secure permanent position
Try to stay young and healthy as long as possible
Social security, pension funds
Also a feeling of love that lasts forever
We want the stability to feel safe
Then we are free to do whatever we enjoy
While freedom is our ultimate goal,
Stability becomes our plan A…
But love can’t be chained.
Love is the water cycle, it evaporates, condenses, precipitates…
We often forget that from the cup of tea we’re holding in our hands,
The water in it may have been
The sea, the warm air, and the morning raindrops
And that is also our life, the constant transformation
If we can’t chain our lives Why would we want to chain love?
Like taking a picture –
To chain love is to have a souvenir for the moment
That we are in love, with the time
Here and now
Locks can’t make us stay,
Marriage can’t promise a garden of roses
We know all that but prefer to be silly…
…it just feels so great to be a slave of love!