The photos are from my mothballed photo blog. They are all of Wollongong.
I like to post Chinese doing unusual things, as an antidote to the political norm these days. Preferably Chinese doing amazing and brilliant unusual things. Entertaining too, it goes without saying. Take the first one. I posted it on Facebook a couple of days back with this note:
More Chinese doing dastardly things to charm us with music. Careful. You might be lured into thinking they are actually human and immensely talented. That would never do! Or you might just sit back and enjoy something brilliant, and bugger the politicians!
And then there is Zhou Shen, whom we have met before. This is really unexpected, and it is in English:
Here he teams up with two others — and yes, I think you know the song:
The last offering on this post is local and classical, though it no doubt includes a number of Mainland Chinese background. I noted:
That Hall I have known so well! Been on that stage more than once over the years, from being in the choir way back in the 50s to occasionally getting a prize on Speech Night, to much much later sitting there in academic dress as a staff member on Speech Night…
The orchestra is so good nowadays! Much more than Rugby and Rowing at the old place, eh! Though I no longer mock those things either….
And a note to all those who have wrung their hands and had conniptions in recent years — Western culture, in this instance Mozart, is very much alive and well and being done proud even with so many Asian faces looking back at us from their instruments! Good stuff!
About that violinist in the first video
Since this post was published I have been looking into this amazing artist some more. A comment on one of his YouTube videos says: “Can this man get any more perfect? It’s not only that he’s talented as f but he’s also such a kind, fun and genuine artist.” I note also that he appears on South Korean as well as Chinese TV.
So, for more I checked (of course) Wikipedia.
Henry Lau (born October 11, 1989), commonly referred to mononymously as Henry, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, actor, entertainer and classical violinist based in South Korea and China. He debuted in 2008 as a member of Super Junior-M and launched his solo career in 2013 with Trap. His original soundtrack “It’s You” released in 2017 became the #1 top-streamed Korean OST on Spotify for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.
Henry made his Hollywood debut in 2019 with the film A Dog’s Journey produced by Amblin Entertainment, the sequel to the 2017 film A Dog’s Purpose. In 2020, the action/fantasy movie “Double World” nominated for “Best Visual Effects” and “Best Action Choreography” at the 39th Hong Kong Film Award starring Henry premiered on Netflix and China’s streaming service iQiyi, becoming the first movie in mainland China’s film history to achieve simultaneous global release…
And here is the young Henry Lau:
Take the 1950s for example. The time that elapsed between the first of the following photographs and the second spans for me the entire decade, even if the second is actually 1955. They also cover my two worlds in that decade — The Shire and Sydney Boys High, and Wollongong to Shellharbour. Both appeared on Facebook in the past day or two, and both have been colourised for my own amusement.
On FB I wrote: Every chance I was there sometime… That little boy in the foreground could be me, except the girl is not my sister. Could be a cousin though… I had blonde hair when younger…
Then Jeanette may have been wearing some kind of sun hat? On the other hand I would have been six or seven years old, and I am not sure my blonde locks lasted that long.
Now to the second photo, this one from the Historic Cronulla and Sutherland Shire FB group.
Back in 1959 after our Leaving Certificate exams were over my Sydney High friend Eric and I one hot summer day hiked from Jannali (where I then lived) via Woronora and Menai to this ferry, the aim being to visit our classmate Roger Dye, who lived in Lugarno — Moons Avenue to be exact!
He was not at home. But his mother was and she had of course met us before when we and other classmates came to visit Roger and go for a row on the Georges River. Mrs Dye kindly refuelled us, after which we caught the bus to Hurstville and train back to Jannali.
So the time between 1950 and 1959 seemed as I said a lifetime. And in a way it was. The time between then and now seems to have gone so much faster! The decade that I have now been back in Wollongong seems mere seconds!
And can this song really have been recorded FIFTY years ago? Surely it was just yesterday….
Over in the USA, so US ABC News tells me, they have been baking east and west. Here Sydney had its coldest June day since the 1880s. (The Gong was a degree or two warmer — we got to 12C.) Oh, and in case anyone starts: I know the difference between weather and climate. Do you?
Cold June days are not entirely unprecedented of course, as I discovered back around 2000 when exploring my own family history.
The relation of Jacob Whitfield (convict arr. 1822 from Ireland) to William and Mary (such Protestant names!) now seems established: he was their father. Certainly he witnessed the wedding on 20 June 1836 at St Andrews Presbyterian Church of William Whitfield and Caroline Philadelphia West, along with the other witnesses Maria Burgess and William Burgess. On 18 September 1836 (yes, I can count!) the baptism is recorded at St James Church, King Street, of William Joseph John Whitfield, son of William and Philadelphia. William gave his profession as carpenter, and his address as Elizabeth Street. The child had been born on August 14. (By the way, it snowed in Sydney on June 28 1836.)
Some question that 28 June 1836 event as possibly just being sleet. However, it was clearly a cold week for William and his pregnant wife on their wedding day, it appears.
Victoria copped the wildest of our weather event, but the predictions of snow in the central ranges of NSW certainly came true. Mr Rabbit (once a regular on my blogs as far back as 2000) is now a teacher in the Blue Mountains; he tells me that his school closed at 10am yesterday. His school is not far from Medlow Bath railway station which looked like this:
That photo and the others here were posted yesterday on Facebook. FB friend and South Sydney Uniting Church member Julie McCrossin was staying in Blackheath:
This is an official shot warning of road conditions:
But the most brilliant photo I saw has to be this one from Mount Victoria by Gary P Hayes — and he says: “and no, not photoshopped for the trolls out there …”
The world really is mad — and I refer here both to our lot and the others… In politics we seem too often to fall into utter incompetence. I think particularly of our relations in the West with the now powerful China — back where it was centuries ago, perhaps, as a world hegemon — and I am not taking either side. All I know is that I have been able to speak heart to heart, person to person, with people from Mainland China just one mortal being to another. Is it that hard? Why is it that hard? How come our leaders so often seem so dumb?
Well, I do know that this music is superior to all their politicking….
The last two are part of a co-operation between the Carolina International Orchestra in Raleigh North Carolina and members of the China National Orchestra Touring North Carolina in 2013. I wonder if that orchestra is still going; their last Facebook post is 2016.
Since writing that (last night) I have found a back-story in a North Carolina newspaper (4 October 2013).
The opening concert of the new Carolina International Orchestra — with guest artists and conductor from the China National Orchestra — brought the house to its feet again and again Tuesday evening.
“Trans-Pacific Melodies,” an East-meets-West concert presented by this new orchestra, had its debut at Lee Auditorium Tuesday night. It was the first leg on a tour heading up the East Coast.
He Jianguo, permanent conductor of the Chinese orchestra, led performers playing both Western instruments like violins and violas and traditional Chinese instruments many in the audience were hearing for the first time — though the artists themselves are among the elite, at the top in their field.
This new orchestra — blending music, instruments and artists from East and West — is a joint venture begun by concert master Yang Xi and fellow violinist Jenny Zhou following the success of last spring’s first collaboration. In February, musicians from North Carolina hosted visiting Chinese instrumentalists in a series of concerts shared with musicians from the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra….
Ties between Moore County and China’s Hunan Province were forged in World War II when 2nd Lt. Robert Hoyle Upchurch, a Flying Tiger pilot from High Falls, lost his life in aerial combat helping China fight the Japanese invasion.
This concert, featuring its unique and international blend of musicians from China and the United States, is a legacy of that bond, as Blake said just before the Arts Council’s Chris Dunn welcomed the crowd.
“It is such an amazing story — you know he wrote home and said, ‘Don’t worry if I don’t make it home. I’m not married, and in two or three years you will forget me,’” Blake said. “The Chinese built a beautiful monument to him, and now the world knows Hoyle Upchurch.”
An organization dedicated to building cultural, educational and business links — the Carolina China Council — grew from these events. North Carolina and Hunan Province are sister states….
That there is nothing about the orchestra on FB since 2016 makes me wonder whether the Trump era was curtains for this wonderful cross-cultural project.
So I have done a little digging and note that North Carolina has a Democrat Governor, re-elected in 2020. The Carolina China Council was still active in 2019 at least.
On October 4, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper congratulated the opening of the 2019 Raleigh China Arts Festival by proclaiming September 29-October 5, 2019 as Carolina China Council and China Arts Festival tenth anniversary week. Secretary of State Mrs. Elaine Marshall attended the opening ceremony of the 2019 Raleigh China Arts Festival at the Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh and welcomed the world class performers to North Carolina in her opening remarks. Distinguished performers from China, Italy and the United States presented a two-hour world class musical gala to a full-house audience. Mrs. Kacy Hunt, Chairwoman of Raleigh Artsplosure which organizes the annual Raleigh Arts Festival, congratulated the success of this year’s Raleigh China Arts Festival. She is looking forward to a long-lasting partnership between Artsplosure and Carolina China Council to promote East-West exchanges of arts and culture.
Interesting — but nothing in the news section since 2019. COVID would no doubt have affected them.
Back to “The Music of the Night”
Yet another connection, as the competition “Super-Vocal” is from Hunan TV.
Super–Vocal (Chinese: 声入人心; pinyin: Shēng rù rénxīn) is a Chinese reality television created and produced by Hunan TV and iQiyi. It is a singing competition focused on classically trained singers, singing both operatic and musical pieces. It features 36 male singers, with six winners after a total of 100 days of training and filming. “Super-Vocal” Season 1 premiered on November 2, 2018, while Season 2 premiered on July 19, 2019.