Making an Effort

To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also. – Igor Stravinsky

About Karen Chan

I am a Science teacher at an international school in Hong Kong. So it may be surprising to find that I am blogging about music on this site. My interest in music started at a young age, when I spied the shiny black grand piano at my parents’ friend’s house in Birkenhead, England. Naturally, I would press the notes in random order every time I went there just to hear the sound produced. This resulted in my asking for piano lessons which I took for about 6 years and then trumpet lessons for 2 years. Despite my lack of talent and discipline, I enjoyed music and am especially grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to join in choirs and bands in secondary school and university.

While at university in Manchester, I was able to attend my first professional orchestral performances by the BBC Philharmonic and Hallé orchestras. Unfortunately, I did not manage to see them perform much due to trying to stay within my paltry student budget! After arriving in Hong Kong, I wasn’t really aware how much art and culture was available for many years, as my friends weren’t interested in classical music. Thankfully, I spotted a flyer for the Hong Kong Philharmonic featuring Simon Trpčeski and a performance of Rachmaninov’s piano concerto 2, which I used to always listen to while studying as a teenager. I bought a ticket and went along. I soon realized that at classical concerts you’re not supposed to talk anyway, so it really didn’t matter whether you went alone or with friends. However, I also discovered that as I went to concerts, I kept seeing people I knew – colleagues, friends, student’s parents and students. This has created another dimension to friendships and stronger ones with students – both former and current.

It really is one thing to listen to recordings and another to experience them live. Usually, I write to my best friend, Juliet, after each concert. I guess it has been my way of writing about my experiences. A lovely colleague and friend, Nancy suggested I write a blog, as she would like to know more about these concerts and she said it is something I’m passionate about. I’m no expert, but love seeing musicians perform and am quite in awe of the hours of practice they go through, the passion they have for their craft, collaboration and the sheer enjoyment that they also get out of their performance for us- the audience. It has also been a privilege to be able to meet some of these wonderful musicians after concerts and see how down to earth many of them are.

Most of the concerts I’ll be attending are in Hong Kong, but some will be in Liverpool and London and a few others elsewhere. I’m hoping that my writing will help inform (mostly myself!) about performers, composers, music and concert venues and be a wonderful record of the music I experience. By sharing this, I’m hoping it will be helpful to readers and maybe introduce them to some of the amazing talent the world has to offer.

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