2020 has started more productive than ever for me. Since I moved to NYC for my masters at Juilliard, my good old high school best friend, Jiacong Xu, IT genius and one of most intelligent people I know now working in Google, asked me to give him a visit sometime. The promise was not met until summer, when instead of cashing a load of cash to fly back home to Australia, I spent a good 3 weeks in the Bay Area, California with him. Through him he introduced me the music community in Google and his good friend Heath Guo, whom with all his networks managed to organise a total of 5 concerts and an informal seminar/masterclass, making it the 2 weeks almost like a music festival!
I played 5 concerts with all different repertoire with huge joy making it a truly fantastic experience for me and kicking the year off with music! The musical community at Google is small but very fruitful. There are a handful of music practice rooms, which are often busily occupied EVERYDAY even on NYE 2019. Heath and Jiacong introduced me to their friends after every concert. They all have experiences in learning piano and who are all at varying level watched me perform with great intent and interest. They were not the typical concert goers, who were there purely enjoy music and have a good time, but they took this as an opportunity to learn and observe how a full music musician like myself approach music interpretation, performances, technique, playing under pressure and preparation. They knew the works or at least most of it back to front. It was a true pleasure for me to play for them and connect with them. One of the concerts held right in the lobby of one the Google central building, were highly well advertised by Jiacong and Heath, managed to reach a number of over 100 audiences fitting in the small lobby. They brought external guests and their kids to hear me play, it was like an old fashioned concert salon style, in time of Schubert, Chopin and even Liszt.
Here is the list of programs in my 5 concerts. It was important for me to perform something to suit to the like of the audiences. We did not have a perfectly tuned pianos and concert hall standard acoustics therefore it was vital for me to choose my program very carefully. Luckily my large palette or repertoire accommodated this perfectly as I was able to play 5 totally different programs for each concert.
1st concert was part of the Music Salon evenings at Google where I was a guest performer, held at 1950 Google building:
Program Chopin Ballade no.3 Schubert/Liszt Der muller und der Bach Liszt Reminiscences de Norma 2nd concert was held at the home of Heath Guo with his fantastic Steinway grand piano stood majestically in his living room, inviting his musical friends and workmates of up to 20 people; Program Beethoven Variations in F op.34 Schubert Sonata in C minor D958 Chopin Fantasy in F minor, 2 mazurkas, nocturne op.48/2, Barcarolle op.60 3rd concert was held again at 1950 Google building in a salon style. The turn out this time was almost 100 audiences, we had to bring out lots of chairs from offices and many stood and sat on the staircase to watch me play!
Program Schubert Impromptu D935/3 Schubert/Liszt Der Muller und Der Bach Granados Ballade of love and death Scriabin Sonata no.4 Op30 Chopin 4 Etudes (op. 10/8, 10/11, 25/5, 25/11), Scherzo no.4 op.54 4th Concert was held at Brookdale San Jose, the lobby centre of a retirement home, the turn out was an approximately 120 audiences mostly residents + invited guests from Google and outside. The space was huge and a great acoustics. Program Schubert Impromptu D935/3 Schubert/Liszt Der Muller und Der Bach Chopin 2 nocturnes op.48, Ballade no.3 op. 47 Schumann Symphonic Etudes op.13 The last concert was held at Vi Palo Alto, the fanciest venue of all. Also took place at a retirement home lobby area. I chose to play something a little light and an easier listen. Program Mozart Sonata in Bb K333 Debussy Images I Chopin 2 Nocturnes op.48, Barcarolle op60
Other than playing concerts, Jiacong took me to Lake Tahoe to skiing. We went for 4 days and it was my first time skiing and definitely it is not my thing! We also went to Yosemite National Park, however when began the trip at midday and to not surprise we arrived as it had gotten dark. Therefore we did not see anything except have a nice hot steak! Not too bad after all! I also took a day out to see San Francisco myself!