30/07/17 19h30 台北國家演奏廳 Taipei National Recital Hall
Fazil Say: Violin Sonata
Richard Strauss: Violin Sonata op.18
曲 目：賽伊【小提琴奏鳴曲】、理查. 史特勞斯【小提琴奏鳴曲】、蕭泰然【冥想曲】
When I was searching for a room via Airbnb, I read several comments from different travellers who stayed at Viktoria’s place; yes, it is a vegan house, no meat eating is welcomed in her place – which doesn’t disturb me at all, as I am not a big meat eater myself. Some people have given very positive feedback about her, saying that she is open, spiritual, straightforward and has a great laugh… Some guy said that overall it was a good experience, even though that he didn’t agree with her life philosophy. I was half-way interested in meeting her – because I was traveling on my own in a new city, it might be fun to meet a “spiritual person”.
When I arrived at her place and walked around the area, I realised that I really landed in the most beautiful area of Buda! I was 2 minutes’ walking distance to the Mathias church!
Viktoria welcomed me with a warm hug and a big smile, and showed me the room where I would stay for the next five days. A very calming bedroom, with several Indian paintings of the god Krishna and his wife hanging on the wall, a big cloth of elephant design above the bed – all these oriental decorations gave me a soothing feeling.
I don’t know how our conversation started to go deep into her life story, maybe because we talked about meditation? Or maybe we talked about “minds”: she mentions that she doesn’t have a mind, so she doesn’t criticise anyone and her guests. If someone doesn’t suit her flat, she would just return the money and ask him/she to leave.
What’s funny is that she is the first person on earth, who has ever said to me “I am enlightened”!
All right, I know, you can choose to believe it or not, you may think that she is crazy. If I was still in my early twenties, I would probably think that she is just too much of a hippy; a person who is retired and does nothing, who meditates all day long. But during my stay in Budapest, I saw that whether I believe she is enlightened or not, she does live peacefully and happily. She lives on 150 euros a month and her rent is about 170, she doesn’t even know how she manages it – but she laughs about it with humour.
Here is a simple version of her story, in search for happiness:
When I was eight years old and all alone, I found my father dead with a knife stabbed into his heart, his body covered with blood in bed. This image of his suicide has stayed in my mind ever since. It was like a programme: during my later years, whenever I was under stress, whenever I encountered problems I couldn’t resolve, I had attempted suicide. In total eight times.
The very last time I damaged my body badly, I overdosed with sleeping pills, and the next day I found myself lying in the hospital, my legs were paralyzed. I lay in bed for almost a year, and later on I learned to walk with sticks.
I had lived in different places, I was a jazz singer in Italy, had worked in different clubs. For my spiritual path I had dedicated myself to Hare Krishna; I was in that organisation for 25 years, I was a Hare Krishna nun for 5 years, and lived in different cities in India, but all that time I wasn’t enlightened.
When I had learned to walk with sticks, I traveled to Mexico. Just by chance I watched a video clip of Mooji (who later has become my spiritual teacher), after five minutes I couldn’t stop myself crying, I thought – I have to meet this guy! In that particular moment, I had such a strong will, I suddenly felt this divine energy coming from the crown of my head through my spine, I could walk again, without help!
“Do you believe in miracles?”, she asked.
Can she be lying? Am I too trusting of someone’s story? Let me tell you my observations: Viktoria does walk a bit differently, the way she moves I would describe that she may have had accidents before, and there were a pair of walking sticks in her bedroom.
She also told me, that she had published her life experiences – all stories were written in a witty, humorous way. Sometimes she re-reads what she wrote and even bursts into laughter! I said that it’s a pity that I don’t understand Hungarian, because already from what she told me, I find her life very interesting.
She had lived to an extreme. Years ago she drank constantly, worked late nights, a bad marriage and several breakups with the same husband… All that, plus she had lived in different countries and traveled, attempted suicide eight times, got involved in a religious organization and was a nun for five years?
Yes, I did see a few piles of her books in the bedroom too.
There is no point in recording all our conversations in this article. If you’re not interested in Vedanta, Buddhist or Hinduist philosophies, if you’ve not had the chance to experience these teachings, all these “mind, no mind” “thoughts”, “emptiness”, subjects would just bore you or make you feel like you were walking in the clouds.
But I would like to share my last conversation with Viktoria on a less than 10 minutes bus ride, which struck me to my core:
I had to ask her about her suicide story again, because when I was about 14 or 15, committing suicide did cross my mind for a few times. Back then we lived on the 17th floor in Taipei, there were some intensive weeks when I stayed up late in the night, looked down from the window, while my family were asleep, and all was quiet. I didn’t like the world, the reality I was living in, I felt this loneliness, and I had somewhat helpless, hopeless feelings that I can’t live this life happily.
I think one of the reasons that I didn’t jump out of the window was that I was afraid of pain. If I didn’t succeed I would suffer in pain! I wasn’t too sure about the idea, so I told myself several times – just wait ‘til tomorrow night – maybe you’ll feel more like doing it then!
So on our way to the train station, I told her my “unenacted wish” from when I was a teenager.
V: “But something stopped you; it’s good that a part of you knew that this would be wrong, so you didn’t do it!
“All we want to do is to kill the roles we’re playing: a mother, a certain profession, a child of someone, someone who does something… What we do is what we do, not what we are, not our essence.
“We’ve had this thought because we really see that life is pure suffering, everybody is just surviving!”
(I was asking in my mind, really? Everyone is only just surviving? Yes, maybe. We do certain things in a search for fun, happiness, love, enjoyment and fulfillment, because we are not them! Some people survive better, tell themselves that they live a good life, and for others, they merely survive).
V: “But you can only kill your physical body, you still don’t kill you! To be truly happy you have to be enlightened: you have to die inside first!”
Me: How do I die inside?
V: “By surrendering to god, surrendering your ego!”
To be honest, at that moment, I didn’t know if we refer to ‘God’ as the same God, but I did have an urge to cry.
Me: “Can I kill myself inside, do you think?”
V: “It’s easier under a master’s protection, you might do it on your own, but there are really very few people, maybe one out of a hundred, who is able to achieve it without a master. Because a true master would raise your energy to a higher level.
“Well, actually, you are a really cute girl, you seem very calm!”
Me: Yes I “seem” very tranquil, I “seem” calm! Some people have said that when I play on stage, I don’t seem nervous at all, but they don’t know that the first few minutes when I have just started performing, my heartbeat is so loud and fast, and that inside I’m full of all kinds of emotions!
It didn’t take Viktoria more than 1 second to react to this:
V: “Next time try not to identify yourself! They are your feelings but they are not you, see yourself from the outside, from above, and maybe the result will be better!”
Very soon after we had to say goodbye to each other, but the last few things Viktoria said, resonated in my heart. In fact, during that short drive, I felt a strange buzzing sensation on the top of my head. Someone had to have lived life so thoroughly in order to be able to come out with things like that in an instant!
The unique people you’ve met, make a new place truly special.
Some people show up in a really short chapter in your life, you may not see them again, but what their stories have taught you, or how your communication with them happened, could be something so valuable that you can’t ever describe it.
More and more I start to see why life has giving me this chance to be on my own without a partner, to feel, to explore, to experience with others, to be inspired, then also to learn to detach from all that.
The sea for me
Has always been an infinite sensation of freedom
I am embraced
Flexible as a fish, no matter how strong the waves wash over me
I am safe and free
The moment I met you
Your beautiful soul in every single drop of water
You are carefree – like the soft wind
Blows softly through the mountains ahead of me
And instantly disappears without a trace,
Has our encounter ever happened?
There are exactly 1349 km between us
I lie facing the sun
As if her warmth and light, kissing my whole body
I seem to hear
You whisper the most beautiful language far, far away.
I wish to free my heart
But my heart longs to share with you
I keep my words, my songs
In a bottle
It doesn’t have to reach your port
But it will set my spirit free.
So I sing, I sing, I sing about you softly
Till the moment the last note is sung
Will be gone
Sea remains sea,
Blue stays blue.
God has sent a great gift to me- This beautiful friendship with you
Ever since the moment we met
Two souls have exchanged, shared, laughed and sighed
We have looked into each other’s eyes
Deeply, truly with honesty
I saw a fragile heart that needs to be loved and cared for,
You saw a strong core within me
Which can go through tough times in life
But when I felt at my loneliest, traveling alone
Searching for my goals
You found me, long distance
And gave me comfort and warmth
As if the universe had heard my message…
You hug me firmly, despite how far we are apart
Because you said that there is no border in God’s Kingdom
You, like your name in Polish
Are special as an irregular pearl
White and pure,
With humor, character, wit, and endless love
When the sun shines on your smile
I see a pink silky light coming through your aura
– a caring heart
People are attracted to your appearance,
But yet your mind is even more beautiful
Music is our common passion
That entrances us both,
But love and understanding
Are the true languages we share.
I don’t know if our Gods are the same one
But I know
That I am in your prayer
And you are in mine.
Dear Life or Dear God,
Thank you sincerely that you have brought such a wonderful person to me, my soul sister. I have never been so certain that no distance, no time, not even death, can make two souls apart
Lover, who loves and is supposed to understand you,
Doesn’t really enter into
Your deepest sorrow
Nor the goals you have set
Someone who chooses to believe
“Less thinking makes life happier”
Is that really true?
Is it just blind ignorance?
If I don’t watch the news, don’t read the headlines
I also would believe that the world is just fine
Are we supposed to feel happy by
Staying blind to the differences, the conflicts,
Between different values in life?
The imperfections I see in my beloved,
Merely reflects the dissatisfaction
Which I feel towards myself?
At this moment
I still don’t know –
If this is our relationship crisis
My personal crisis!
當我們巧妙地忽視彼此的不同, 衝突, 與不同的生活價值觀
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 Huei Chiang (江蕙) and she was born in Taipei in 1980. She is also a talented writer, her other huge passion besides music. She has been living in Catalonia since 1999, when she accepted such a position in the Empordà Chamber Orchestra. As a Taiwanese native but also a long time resident in Catalonia, she has the perfect profile to analyze both societies and how globalization is getting them to be closer every passing day. Sinalunya has approached her with this purpose and we thank her for taking the time to answer these questions.
Q: You have been living in Catalonia for more than 10 years now. What is your perception of the Catalan society? How was integration in such a different society for a young Taiwanese lady? And what was the reaction of the local people?
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 Catalonia, I thought that it was time for me to learn some Catalan, I wanted to feel more integrated, so I took Catalan classes. Some people were really impressed by an Asian girl that “tried to speak Catalan” and they were happy to answer me in Catalan as well, but some others just kept on speaking Spanish to me, like it didn’t matter to them… People are hard to please!!! (Joke)
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.
Q: Catalonia has always been an open nation that has looked beyond its borders, but now nearest markets are becoming difficult and East Asian ones can play an important role in getting out of the crisis. What would you recommend to Catalan entrepreneurs and businessmen if they had to go to Taiwan in order to deal with Taiwanese people and culture?
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 Taiwan, is there something from there that you are terribly missing here? And what would you take with you from Catalonia if you would move back to your native country?
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 Taiwan, you will only see this there: Every bookstore is like a library, there are tables and chairs around, you can choose any book you want, sit down and spend the whole afternoon reading it till you finish, no one will even come and ask you to buy the book! That’s what we think “normal” in bookstores, and the stores are always full of people and quite! The result is that people always buy books as well, but then you can really choose something you must have rather than buying some books you are not quite sure about.
And what would I bring from Catalonia, food wise? As for presents I often bring torrons, pimientos de Padrón, polvorones… but if I do move back to my country, it would be my whole living experience! My professional experience in playing and Yoga! I learned Yoga in Catalonia, and I am also a trained Yoga teacher.
Q: Are there any cultural interactions between Taiwan and Catalonia that you are aware of? Do you think that it is something to be explored? Any ideas?
R: I don’t think there is such an exchange between these two places, a lot of Asian people still haven’t heard of “Catalonia”, they know the city of Barcelona, and artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, the football team FC Barcelona… Of course there are things to be explored such as art and gastronomy.
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!!! (Carl Jung talked about the collective unconsciousness, so I may not be the first one in the world who has had this idea).
Q: Finally, please let us know a little bit more about yourself by telling us your tastes:
A book: About Love and Solitude by Krishnamurti
A movie: The Shawshank Redemption
An actor or actress: Audrey Hepburn
A song or musical piece: Bach – Ciaccona
A performer: Billie Holiday
A composer: Franz Schubert
A landscape: L’Empordà
A dish from Taiwanese cuisine: Everything!
A dish from Catalan cuisine: Arròs negre (black rice), Fideuà, Cargols (snails)
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 Huei Chiang on violin together with the Orquestra de Cambra de l’Empordà, conducted by Carles Coll, playing the Faust Fantasy op.13 by P. by Sarasate
你們有沒有發現-網誌的右手邊,多了個小單元,叫where & when am I playing?
對了! 這將是我每月份的concert update!
昨天,和我親愛的家人在skype上聊的天花亂墜的,爸媽建議說,我也可以在blog上加入我音樂會的行程,讓大家知道我演奏的動向。其實,當初想架一個網誌,其實是想專門發揮我在文字上的想像力,寫些生活上的靈感、周遭發生的故事,或是在演奏旅行中的經歷,偏屬文學性的文章,而關於我的專業-小提琴,我則另有我的網頁https://www.hueichiang.com/, 上有我的音樂及videos, concert schedule(solo performances)…, 可是,昨天想了想,覺得我若也在blog上加入音樂會行程,更能讓讀者朋友們了解我的工作步調,因為,有趣得事實是-沒有任何一個職業樂團演奏像我們如次多的音樂會! 每年平均是130-150場呢!
在同個室內樂團工作了近十年之久(https://www.fundaciooce.org/),自近兩年開始寫部落格後,才開始用文字讓讀者們認識我作為職業音樂家的生活,又加上我們常在外地演出,我的部落格名稱叫” violinist on roaming” 也不足為奇了!
OK! That’s for now! 最近有許多新的想法,將會盡快把靈感寫下,和你們一起分享我在文學上的創作,也希望每篇文章能帶給你們不同的體驗與感動!