North American Guqin Association
NAGA January 2006 Yaji Report
On Sunday January 22nd the North American Guqin Association (NAGA) held its first yaji of 2006, welcoming the Chinese New Year one week early.
Once again NAGA members and guests were treated to a varied and lively program. We initiated the evening with a group practice in which NAGA draft song versions of two famous Tang Dynasty poems were sung and discussed with the audience. Some revisions were adopted during this process, and we thank everyone who participated. Don't hesitate to give more feedback at any time on these and future drafts of songs. They are works in progress. Wang Fei noted that one reason for NAGA's emphasis on singing and creating song versions for guqin pieces at yajis is that songs serve as a vehicle for getting to know a culture. Through songs we can begin to appreciate the feelings, values, history, and interests of a culture.
Wang Fei then did a presentation on the life and poetry of Li Qingzhao. She noted the changes in style and content of Li Qingzhao's poems throughout her life. As with Cai Wenji, the life of Li Qingzhao had its share of tragedy. Cai Wenji was a featured topic at the previous yaji. One of Li Qingzhao's poems was read in Chinese and in English by Wang Fei and Fred Pohlmann to background qin and xiao music. Wang Fei then played and sang Feng Huang Tai Shang Yi Chui Xiao (from Dong Gao Qinpu) on the guqin. Pat Wong and Kwan Wong, revealing the deepening abilities that NAGA members are achieving, performed guqin solos of considerable length and difficulty. Then Wang Fei displayed her usual exquisite touch in a guqin solo. Two masterful taiji sword forms were performed to background music by June Lou and Dr. Sanford Tom respectively, giving the audience a glimpse of different styles, each with its unique aesthetic beauty. Dr. Tom performed an additional energetic taiji form. A guzheng and pipa ensemble delighted us next, followed by an encore pipa solo, which left all breathless, performed by Melody Chen. Last, but not least, the erhu and zhonghu duet of James Byfield and Monique Kuo played a lively tune. This was already much anticipated by audience members who got a glimpse of it during a rehearsal at the program break. The program ran a full three hours, proving that we never have difficulty filling up an evening with a diversity of entertaining delights. At one point Wang Fei related the story of the man who bought a 1200 year old Tang dynasty guqin for half a million dollars at an auction two years ago. Years later, when he was offered ten times that amount, he refused to sell it. He replied that the guqin had been the catalyst for many close friendships and for that reason it is priceless. At our priceless yajis we continue to make qin friends.
Please see the photo album by Michael Cohen at http://hustlepix.com/concerts/naga_yaji_01222006/
Wang Fei described the ongoing NAGA poem/song translation project.
Group practice of song versions of Chang Xiang Si (长相思) and Zi Yie Wu Ge (子夜吴歌) with Wang Fei, Monique Kuo, Pat Wong, Kwan Wong, and Fred Pohlmann on guqin, Eliot Greenleaf on xiao, and Kwan Wong, Wenyu Jiang, and June Lou singing.
Wang Fei presentation on the life and poetry of Li Qingzhao with a reading of the poem Thoughts From the Women's Quarter: to the tune ※Nostalgia of the Xiao on the
Pat Wong 每 Yu Qiao Wen Da (渔樵问答) Dialogue of the Fisherman and the Woodcutter
Kwan Wong 每 Yi Gu Ren (忆故人) Memories of an Old Friend
Wang Fei (qin), Kwan Wong (singing) 每 Guan Shan Yue (关山月) Moon over the
June Lou - taiji sword
Dr. Sanford Tom 每 taiji sword and taiji dao jian chuan
Guzheng and pipa ensemble:
Melody Chen ( pipa), Rebecca Hseuh, Jennifer Yeh, and Michael Cohen (guzheng) 每
Ba Yue Gui Hua Bian Di Kai (八月桂花遍地开) The August Cassia Blooms on all Sides
Melody Chen 每 Da Lang Tao Sha (大浪淘沙) Great Waves Washing the Sand
Erhu and Zhonghu duet:
James Byfield (erhu) and Monique Kuo (zhonghu) Wo Ai Wo de Taiwan Dao 每 我爱我的台湾岛 (I love My Taiwan Island)
Reporter: Fred Pohlmann
Editor : Julian Joseph
North American Guqin Association