機會與性格 – 李怡

July 4, 2011

For the record. See also my video interview with 李怡的外孫 Scott MacIsaac – Portrait of a Young Award-Winning Classical Pianist.

機會與性格 – (李怡) – 2011年07月05日

外孫啟新今秋進耶魯鋼琴演奏系,跳過學士課程,直接受教於只教碩士生的鋼琴大師 Boris Berman,這是女兒一家從來不會奢望的事,卡加里也開始有新聞界訪問這個十八歲的大孩子了。
有朋友問我,他有此成績(還不能講成功)主要是什麼因素?天份嗎?努力嗎?天份,我們沒人看出來,我們家也沒有音樂傳統。努力是確實的,他每天練琴六七小時,很多他喜歡的運動娛樂他都放棄。但有天份也努力的人很多,除這兩者,他的成績還取決於機會和他的性格。
去年他參加愛民頓的一次鋼琴比賽,正好 Boris Berman當評判,而 Berman一輩子才第一次去愛民頓。在這比賽中,他評了啟新第一名,在比賽後的接待會,他當面向啟新提出希望他考慮去耶魯跟他學鋼琴,可以給他獎學金,並告訴他怎麼申請。耶魯鋼琴演奏班兩年才收了兩名學生。如果不是當場被 Berman看上,即使真是天才,求見 Berman也很難。所以是機會。
啟新的性格天生關心人。四年前,他偶然讓加拿大有名的鋼琴老師 Merilyn Engle上了一小時課, Merilyn欣賞他,想收他做學生,他除了高興即時的反應卻是擔心原來教他的老師不開心。這次他去耶魯,不擔心學不好或難適應,卻擔心 Merilyn的感受。有人問他,把鋼琴當做畢生事業的目的是什麼?難道他不知道古典音樂已越來越少人欣賞了嗎?他說,古典音樂是好東西,少人欣賞所以他更要把這種事業繼承下去。
我有一位記者朋友曾訪問郎朗,問他的人生目的,他說,多些演奏會,多出些 CD,讓更多人知道他,當然也想有更多收入。所以,他拒絕為六四彈奏《風中之燭》,是很自然的事。因為他不是藝術家。

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李怡的外孫 Scott MacIsaac – Portrait of a Young Award-Winning Classical Pianist

June 11, 2011

我很高興於2009年認識和有機會聽到香港名作家/社評人李怡的外孫 Scott MacIsaac 的鋼琴演奏。前幾天我在 Scott 去 Yale 跟 Boris Berman 教授讀 Certificate in Performance program 之前,訪問了Scott、他的父母和外公。(The following text are copied here from the original English version for your convenience. See original English version for additional readers’ comments and further updates.) [July 5, 2011 Update: Here is 李怡’s Chinese newspaper article “機會與性格” about Scott.]

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Scott MacIssac - 2011 - pix 1

Scott MacIssac - 2011 - pix 3

If you spend some time with Scott MacIsaac, the first thing you will notice is that he is an easy going & sweet young man. And if you are lucky to hear him play the piano in a concert, you will discover he is a talented classical pianist and has also won many awards.

When I first heard Scott performing in 2009 at 16, I knew that Scott was talented but I only knew him as a person through the eyes of his grandpa Lee Yee 李怡, a famous Hong Kong writer/editorialist. In order to write about Scott in an informed manner, I spent an afternoon plus an evening chatting with Scott and his parents Doug, Wendy and grandpa Lee Yee. And conducted two extensive over the phone followup interviews with Scott and Lee Yee. I appreciate their time very much especially since Scott is leaving Calgary soon (in August 2011) to enter Yale‘s Certificate in Performance program to study piano with Professor Boris Berman.

The Portrait

After some careful considerations, I decided the best way for me to share my insights about Scott is to divide this article into three sections: 1) Impressions, 2) Two Q&As, and 3) YouTube videos (my “Portrait of a Young Classical Pianist” short video, Scott’s TSO Competition videos, and his recent Calgary performance) allowing you chances to see Scott plays the piano and to listen to him and his parents in their own words.

Impressions

I am not a piano/classical music expert, but judging from the multiple awards Scott has received over the years, I can safely and objectively say he is very talented! :) And the two performances of Scott I attended in the last few years, I thought the music were played beautifully and many pieces were performed full of passion. In chatting about piano music with Scott, I often saw his eyes lit up and his face filled with a big smile. And in our chats, he, even at his young age, recognizes a perfect performance doesn’t really exist and there are always things to improve in every performance.

When I raised the observation/fact that the career of a concert pianist can be tough and classical piano music isn’t exactly rising in popularity, I sensed he truly sees piano as his calling and willing to work very hard to overcome the challenges faced by concert pianists everywhere. And he even aspires to try to reengage the younger/newer generations to love classical piano music more. Scott clearly knows this is not an easy task so I really admire him for wanting to try.

As a person, Scott is very easy going, nice and considerate. I feel Scott truly appreciates & treasures the teachings & insights from his first piano teacher Beverly a few blocks from his home and his current UC teacher Marilyn (see photos below).

Scott MacIsaac & Marilyn Engle at TSO Competition 2011Scott MacIsaac & Marilyn Engle at UC CONTRASTS Chamber Music Festival 2011

Scott’s parents, and grandpa Lee Yee shared with me the story of Scott’s concern when his piano skill advanced and it was time to transition from Beverly to Marilyn. I was deeply touched to hear that Scott, at the young age of 14 (?), didn’t want to hurt his first teacher’s feeling. The mark of a nice and considerate boy.

The following is how Marilyn described her first encounter with Scott in a December 2010 UC article “Gifted pianist plays for U of C“,

Engle describes the first time she met MacIsaac as being like a scene from a movie. “I still remember. I was eating my sandwich, he started to play a Chopin concerto, and the sandwich got slower and slower as it approached my mouth, and then it stopped completely and I realized, that’s talent.”

Scott emphasized to me that Marilyn‘s teaching was curial in his improved and refined piano skills, winning multiple awards in recent years, and ultimately for his skills to be recognized by Boris which lead to his acceptance to Yale.

In my mind, I think all great teachers understand their talented student will one day reach a new level of maturity/sophistication in skills. And when that day comes, a different teacher may arrive to try to assist the student in reaching a new level.

Two Questions & Answers

In my extensive interviews with Scott, we touched upon many topics. Here are two Q&As that I personally find particularly interesting and illuminating.

Kempton: Classical piano pieces were created long long time ago. [Many people considered the creativity/act of creation done and finished years ago.] Do you see your each performance as a new “act of creation” [in itself]?

Scott: “Every performer has their own interpretation of a piece. Their own way, in which they view a piece, on how it should be played. Even the composer, the one who actually created the work, even he does not have the, as you say, the “correct” interpretation of it. Cause there are, in music, an infinite ways that one can interpret a piece. Even the creator of the piece himself plays it differently than everyone else. Everyone plays it differently from each other. Thats what makes music unique and creative is that everyone has their own way in which they feel [a certain piece should be played].”

And here is the second Q&A. This one is about the creative process, my attempt to understand how Scott thinks during the first moment of creation.

Kempton: When you first look at a printed music score, are you [simply] “hearing” how it sounds [in a basic and straight forward manner as the music is written/specified on the printed pages], or are you already thinking about how to manipulate it [that is, to add your artistic and creative touch to it]? The creative process, does it happen during even the first look [of the music score]?

Scott: “It actually does happen during the first look. The first time you actually see or hear a piece is when the piece is most clear to you, the most fresh. Because thats when its the first time you are ever going to see it. It’s like if you watch a movie for the first time, and there are little shock elements in the movie that surprise you on the first time. The second time its is not going to surprise you as much, because you already know that it’s going to happen.

In music, it is the same deal. The first time you see it is when everything is fresh. When all the little shocks in the music which most people or non-musical audiences wouldn’t understand fully but you can make it more understandable for them if you actually know where these shocks are. And if they do sound fresh to yourself, they will come across fresh to the audiences too.”

YouTube videos: “Portrait of a Young Classical Pianist” short video, TSO Competition videos, and a recent Calgary performance 

Here is my short video “Scott MacIsaac – Portrait of a Young Classical Pianist (English & Chinese version)“. I hope you enjoy it as much as I in creating it.

Here is a link to the English version of my short video “Scott MacIsaac – Portrait of a Young Classical Pianist” (including interview footage with Scott’s dad Doug).

Have a listen to Scott’s recent award winning performance at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Competition (here, here, and here).

Here is a short video clip of Scott performing “Franz Joseph Haydn: Sonata No. 39 in D major” a few days ago at University of Calgary‘s CONTRASTS Chamber Music Festival (June 7th, 2011).

Special thanks

Special thanks to Scott, his parents Doug & Wendy, and his grandpa Lee Yee for spending time with me for me to write this article and to create the video.

Concluding Thoughts

I really enjoy interviewing & chatting with Scott. I know Scott will grow muscially in the coming years under the tutelage of Boris at Yale and for years to come with his hard work and determination. I hope to stay in touch with Scott and update you on his progress and achievements.

If Scott can find time in his busy schedule (this may be tough) and together with some creative use of technologies (possibly Skype & advanced audio recording tools, etc), may be I can even bring you some interesting updates & insights bi-occasionally. :) Will see about that.

Postscript

In the interview, Scott mentioned he has read Professor Boris Berman‘s “Notes from the Pianist’s Bench” (via Amazon), if you are interested, you can read a few sample pages of the book via Amazon.


Scott MacIsaac 卡加利大學鋼琴表演 (6月7日)

June 7, 2011

Scott MacIssac - 2011 - pix 1

Scott MacIssac - 2011 - pix 2

Time flies and it has been two years since my first report of the talented Scott MacIsaac (香港著名作家李怡的外孫) playing at the 2009 Winners of the Calgary Concerto Competition concert. This past weekend, I had the pleasure to video interview/chat with Scott in depth to get to know him a little bit more before he leaves Calgary in August to study piano at Yale School of Music plus I also interviewed Scott’s loving parents. It will take me some time to write the article plus edit & process the interview video clips, but I hope to post the interview soon.

For those that loves piano & classical music, Scott will perform once more at University of Calgary, Department of Music‘s CONTRASTS Chamber Music Festival (June 7th, 2011)  before he leaves for Yale to study with Professor Boris Berman. Hope you have time to attend CONTRASTS.

Scott MacIssac - 2011 - pix 3

By the way, here are YouTube videos of Scott MacIsaac at Toronto Symphony Orchestra Competition: Final Round (May 29th, 2011) performing Sergie Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto no. 2 in c minor op. 18. Scott won second prize at the TSO competition. Enjoy.

TSO Piano Competition: Concerto no.2 in c minor op.18, I. Moderato

TSO Piano Competition: Concerto no.2 in c minor op.18, II. Adagio sostenuto

TSO Piano Competition: Concerto no.2 in c minor op.18, III. Allegro scherzando


「最佳歌詞」 : 《別要留戀》Just Move On (作曲/編曲/主唱: 張繼源、填詞:黎建彰) – 第十六屆加拿大中文歌曲創作大賽

May 29, 2011

I am so happy that 《別要留戀》(作曲/編曲/主唱: 張繼源、填詞:黎建彰) has won 「最佳歌詞」best lyrics in SQ16 (第十六屆加拿大中文歌曲創作大賽“最佳歌詞”). (AM 1470 press release) It takes a great team, so congrats to Andy & Domonic!!! Great job, well done.

Check out what I wrote before, see the following for the lyrics.

Please vote for #3 別要留戀 - Just Move On

別要留戀 / Just Move On

作曲/編曲/主唱: 張繼源 (Domonic Cheung)
填詞: 黎建彰 (Andy Lai)

望天際飄雲 從來未停止化作雋美的畫意
原因就是在於它的變 永不盡 從沒有恬靜的瞬間
* 夢總有醒時 卻有些回憶往往也沖不淡
時刻帶你重溫那陣時
那些事才令你加倍在意
世間太多的悲喜無常
為何注重錯失得到與成績
轉眼日落都將色彩褪減
要看清這一生高低浮沉
從而領會箇中一切更覺難得
別要留戀那次向著前行
Repeat *
讓你重新開始 繼續前行


Silly Girl 傻女 (A cappella)

May 29, 2011

Aileen Kwan

Here is Aileen Kwan’s rendition of Priscilla Chan’s (陳慧嫻) Silly Girl (傻女). Enjoy.


ABBA “Thank you for the Music”

May 29, 2011

Aileen Kwan

Here is a rendition of ABBA‘s “Thank you for the Musicsang by Aileen. I hope you will enjoy the song as much as I did.


別要留戀 – Just Move On – 請投一票選我最喜愛歌曲 Please vote

May 15, 2011

Please vote for #3 別要留戀 - Just Move On

請聽聽 #3 別要留戀 – Just Move On,投票選我最喜愛歌曲。Go Domonic & Andy Go !!!

“今年網上投選我最喜愛歌曲方式以全新的面貌出現,你除了可以率先聽到各入圍歌曲外,大會亦為參賽者拍攝短片進行拉票,他們會現身說法創作意念、靈感、創作中遇到的趣事及其個人音樂背景。 ”

別要留戀 / Just Move On

作曲/編曲/主唱: 張繼源 (Domonic Cheung)
填詞: 黎建彰 (Andy Lai)

望天際飄雲 從來未停止化作雋美的畫意
原因就是在於它的變 永不盡 從沒有恬靜的瞬間
* 夢總有醒時 卻有些回憶往往也沖不淡
時刻帶你重溫那陣時
那些事才令你加倍在意
世間太多的悲喜無常
為何注重錯失得到與成績
轉眼日落都將色彩褪減
要看清這一生高低浮沉
從而領會箇中一切更覺難得
別要留戀那次向著前行
Repeat *
讓你重新開始 繼續前行