Upcoming Cello Performances (Seattle Area)

The great majority of readers of this blog arrive here looking for discussion of East Asia, but, from my perspective, they are a cultivated bunch who don’t mind a few references to French musical impressionism, Dmitri Shostakovich, or German musical romanticism.

For local readers in particular, I’m offering here a prospectus of my upcoming solo performances, putting some more ballast behind the latter word in the title of this blog:

Oh So Live Concert Series

Friday and Saturday, January 22 and 23, 2009

 2013 Bethel Ave., Olympia, WA


Beethoven: Sonata No. 1 in F for Cello and Piano, opus 5 no. 1

Nadia Boulanger: Trois Pieces for Cello and Piano

Johannes Brahms: Sonata No. 1 in e for Violoncello and Piano, op. 38

with Robert Jorgensen, piano


Sunday Classical Series

Sunday, January 24, 2009, 3 pm

The Antique Sandwich Shop

5102 N Pearl St, Point Ruston (North Tacoma), WA


Same as September 22 and 23rd: Beethoven/Boulanger/Brahms

with Robert Jorgensen, piano

Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra

Saturday, March 6, 7:30 pm

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Seattle


J.S. Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major

Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring Suite (chamber version)


 Holocaust Remembrance Concert

Saturday, March 20, Noon

Pacific Lutheran University, Scandinavian Cultural Center


Ernst Bloch, Pieces from Jewish Life

Max Bruch, Kol Neidre

 with Robert Jorgensen, piano

For readers who don’t give a damn about my performing career, that’s absolutely fine, and all to the good: I will continue to work assiduously to provide you with ample food for thought on this blog and in those printed peer-reviewed journals that continue to churn out their arguments in spite of their manifest lack of hyperlinks and arpeggios. 

Avec l'Axe at Pacific Lutheran University

Update: I just ran across this little hortatory excerpt from one of my favorite blogs, “Dial M for Musicology,” maintained by the highly-productive musican-musicologist-published author Jonathan D. Bellman, a Schumann/Brahms/Chopin specialist who is a professor at University of Northern Colorado.  It’s about how to make it in music:

But no, I won’t give any advice about you and musicology, you and music…you and this or that Canadian University. It’s down to you, now, whatever choices you want to make, and you might just take a deep breath and make this decision on your own, and then go all out to make it the right one. Rear up on your hind legs and get something going. For decades, the people who have become successful are those who have forced it, with weirdly checkered backgrounds, atypical skills, and (above all) prevailing diehardism, as I called it years ago. Somehow, we squeezed through a crack, or forced out way in. If you want to get anywhere even remotely associated with music, you need to adopt this mindset and stop asking for guidance. What is more, prepare yourself for failures, reverses, and disappointments—if you can’t deal with those, music is not a good place for you. (I’m not saying you have to like failure; just withstand it and learn from it.)

China to Replace Ambassador in Pyongyang

There about six or seven major stories unfolding simultaneously today in US-North Korea and Sino-North Korean diplomacy, but don’t miss this quiet development: China is shuffling its ambassadors on the Korean peninsula.  Liu Xiaoming, the dapper, Anglophone, and American-educated ambassador to the DRPK, seems set to move.  

According to Chosun Ilbo:

Liu Xiaoming, China’s incumbent ambassador to North Korea, who is an expert on U.S. affairs, is being dispatched to London, while Liu Hongcai, a North Korea hand, is being cited as a replacement. 

The fact that Yang’s diplomatic rank is lower than that of the other ambassadors in other parts of Northeast Asia has raised concerns that China is placing less priority on South Korea. But the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Friday said it was “inappropriate” to take issue with the low rank of the ambassador since there are hardly any high-ranking experts on South Korean affairs in China’s Foreign Ministry.

That’s fascinating on a few levels, but the institutional longevity of China’s strong relations with North Korea here come through: of the high-ranking MFA officials, more have expertise on the DPRK than with South Korea, the country with which diplomatic relations were only established in 1992.

I doubt that this change would delay any possible visit by Kim Jong Il to China, speculation about which gets firmly debunked by Yonhap.

Meanwhile, Asahi Shimbun reports on the new PRC ambassador to Japan, praising the appointment as a sign that Hu Jintao is warming up to the Hatoyama government.

This Ain’t Dallas: NYT on Seattle Teriyaki

This is, sadly, no food blog, but the following article from the New York Times has been giving me a great deal of joy lately and I thought I’d share:

“Seattle has a thousand teriyakis,” Mrs. Ko said one afternoon. Her tone was dismissive, as if explaining the looming presence of the Space Needle to a not particularly bright child. “No Americans do the cooking. Koreans do.”

“This is Seattle food,” she said, extending her argument. “For Seattle people. This is what we eat here. Seattle people eat teriyaki. This isn’t Dallas.”

It has occurred to me that the cost of a newspaper like the New York Times can be worth it if one bumps into an article like this.  Or today’s missive from Paris in the same paper:

Mr. Simon [a club owner] has considered moving his operation to Berlin: the authorities there are less stringent and the public is more accepting, he said. The recent report on the night life economy ranked Paris well behind Berlin — as well as London, Amsterdam and Barcelona, Spain — in terms of “nocturnal attractiveness.”

For that reason, party-seekers, D.J.’s and musicians have been fleeing Paris for years.

“The migratory movement toward Berlin is absolutely colossal,” said Éric Labbé, a concert organizer and record store owner who was a co-author of the nightlife petition. With unpredictable police closings and increasingly stringent sound restrictions on music locales, Mr. Labbé said, “it’s incredibly complicated to find places to play.”

Hooray!  Confirmation that Paris, while still great, can be a little stifling and that real artists and writers and entertainers are moving to Berlin.  Let’s hope they don’t raise the rents in eastern Germany.  And, as long as we’re doing comparative cities here, come to think of it, Berlin would be so much better with teriyaki places everywhere…

11 Jan 2010: Sino-Japanese Currents

A few new threads today:

1. The three-part NHK documentary on China’s rise is now available with Chinese subtitles.  Huanqiu’s BBS carries part three here.   Ironically, the name of the series is “China Power” [中国力量], but Huanqiu insists on the eye-catching title instead as “Japanese NHK Documentary: China’s Power: Giant Dragon Swallowing the World” [日本NHK纪录片:中国力量-吞噬世界的巨龙].   And here I thought that recent US media treatments of China were prone to exaggeration of the adversarial aspects of the Sino-Western dynamic.

If you watch the actual film, Part Two of which was featured on this blog yesterday, you will find it to be a fairly conventional look at a bunch of businessmen/bankers meeting in Beijing, almost on the boring side.  I would recommend instead the opening montage which starts at about 2:30 — it depicts hundreds of Chinese people running with digitized flags depicting various epochs in modern Chinese history…The English-language NHK press release on “China Power” indicates the rather dispassionate tone of the series.  Not yet having watched the entire series as a caveat, if this kind of thing can rile up Chinese public opinion against Japan, it seems anything can. 

China Digital Times carries relevant discussion of a previous NHK documentary, the 2007 “China in a Torrent.”

2. This small debate on Huanqiu’s BBS about Chinese vs. Japanese GDP makes an interesting point: What economic indicators make the most sense in gaguing Sino-Japanese relative wealth, and why make a big deal about Chinese surpassing Japan in terms of GDP?  After all, at the time of the Jiawu War ( 甲午战争 ) / Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, China’s GDP was four times bigger than that of Japan!  

Fortunately no one has yet stirred the pot by mentioning that the Jiawu War also ceded Taiwan’s economic output to Japan. 

3. The freshest story — and the one to watch — is that the Japan’s Self Defense Forces mandate is running out in the Indian Ocean.  According to Sankei Shimbun, on January 15, the Japanese navy will be completing its stint on behalf of the U.S. in the Indian Ocean.  This entangles all manner of questions, including the posture of U.S. forces in Okinawa, as Prime Minister Hatoyama is not predisposed to maintain the Indian Ocean mission nor to keep American forces in large numbers in the Ryukyu Islands.

The Chinese press is reporting on this story on two levels: on the one hand, there is some relief that the Japanese SDF, at least in this case, will no longer be pushing the envelope on the peace clause (Article IX) in the pacifist constitution.  On the other hand, China is aware, and is reporting on it to boot, that conservative Japanese media outlets are criticizing Hatoyama for the pullout and crying that the Chinese navy will fill the vacuum in the Indian Ocean.

Indicating such, one of the more conservative mainstream papers in Japan, Sankei Shimbun, reports that even China’s moves to enhance tourism in Hainan Island are geared toward controling the oil and gas resources in the Spratley Islands  (link in Japanese).

The SDF had been in the Indian Ocean on account of anti-terrorism legislation in Japan, but, according to Huanqiu’s rendering of Sankei Shimbun, the fear is that China will now control shipping lanes for vital energy supplies from the Persian Gulf to East Asia.  Fortunately Vladmir Putin has a solution, and China already has some lovely Central Asian sources for more oil!

4. Easily the most alarming story of the day is this dispatch from Tokyo, where a demonstration of right-wing Japanese asserted that there were “too many Chinese” in the city.   

via Huanqiu Shibao

The comment boards are lighting up in China on this story.  Perhaps alarmingly, China’s online censors are allowing comments like  同志们兄弟们,我们也到日本使馆抗议去吧![Comrades and brothers, we will also go to the Japanese Embassy to show our resistance!). 

5. Chinese are rediscovering their anti-Japanese past via Western sources.  This photo gallery indicates as much:

Chinese Women in Training during World War II -- via Huanqiu -- click image for gallery

There has been a spate of publications since 2005 describing topics like Western reporters and missionaries in China, particularly in very popular periodicals like 老照片 (“Old Pictures”, published in Shandong).  As much as the forceful recollections of the Second World War / War of Resistance could be seen as a way of hemming in Japan diplomatically, they are now no less geared toward reminding readers that China was strongly integrated into the world community in the 1930s and has served a crucial function in undergirding global security for decades, not just since 1979.  They also serve to highlight continuities between the Republic of China and the PRC and as such aid in the process of unification with Taiwan.