Call me "Siu Hei"
I'm interested in the ways music touches people in history and current society, and stories of how music touches you and me. I'm also interested the political forces behind music making. That includes politics narrowly defined (as governmental or national politics), and also social class, economic factors, gender, race, and disability. These two basic interests guide my journey as a pianist, musicologist, and teacher.
A PhD candidate in Music (historical and critical musicology) at the University of California, San Diego. I teach music courses of all college levels, collaborate with musicians (Classical and contemporary), give piano lessons, write research articles, edit writings for college students and applicants, and enjoy pizza+beer.
In February 2016, I curated and coordinated the Intercultural Music (IcM) Conference and Concerts at UC San Diego. The IcM involved 80 musicians and scholars from over 17 countries, and was enthusiastically received by global participants and the local media.
Being a Western Classical Music performer and scholar, I am constantly struck by the musical creativity of my hometown. I researched the derivative music scene in Hong Kong and its implications on new forms of political engagement, and then presented a paper on this topic at the National Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology in Austin, Texas (November, 2015). This paper was later developed into the undergraduate course "Popular Music: Hong Kong Politics and Identities," which also covered independent and mainstream music. I will present an updated version of my research at the International Musicological Society in Tokyo, Japan in March 2017.
My doctoral dissertation reveals conflicting meanings of Pierrot, the European theatrical (commedia dell'arte) character who captured artists' imagination all over Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. The goal of this project is to extend the limited understanding of Pierrot: he is not only a sad, hysterical, and modernist aesthete as previously known, but also an politically engaged carnival character that provokes religious thoughts, comments on national and international politics, and racial identity.
In the process, I am discovering and playing pantomime music and other pieces that were neglected in the current performative repertoire and academic scholarship. I am also constructing new, yet historically informed understandings of canonic works such as Pierrot Lunaire and Petrushka.
My dissertation advisor is Distinguished Professor of Musicology Jann Pasler.
PERFORMANCE AND PIANO TEACHING
In May 2017, I am serving as opera pianist for Joshua Charney's opera Bula Matari, Breaker of Rocks, which is based on the true historical story of British explorer Henry Stanley and his final expedition through the African Congo into Sudan to rescue a Egyptian appointed governor from Sudanese Islamic freedom fighters. Recently, I also premiered compositions by James Erber and Cory Hibbs. I was also honored to perform with the late maestro, violinist Janos Negyesy, and the award-winning vocalist Kirsten Ashley Wiest. Together with Wiest, we presented John Zorn's jumalattaret, Ligeti's aria from Grand macarbre, amongst many other substantial pieces.
I served as piano, chamber music, and piano accompaniment faculty at the Lyra Music Festival and Workshop from 2011-2015, and appeared as a soloist at the Hong Kong Cultural Center. After completing my Master's Degree at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York), I moved to San Diego. There, I worked with the San Diego Museum of Art in pairing music with visual arts.
A native of Hong Kong, I have been teaching piano for 12 years. I studied with Barry Snyder at Eastman, Aleck Karis at UC San Diego, and Siu Wan Chair Fang, Amelia Chan, Philip Yue, and Winnie Cheng in Hong Kong. During my own undergraduate years, I curated a fund-raising recital for Orbis, an international humanitarian organization for eye care, and performed as the piano soloist in the concert. That remained as one of my best musical experience.
As an ESL (English as a Second Language) speaker and writer, I specialize in helping ESL students adapt to the demands of American college in writing and speaking. I served as teaching assistant at the Revelle College "Humanities" writing program. The interdisciplinary program focuses on the "great books" of Western literature form Ancient Greece to the present, and the cultures in which the books were created. In 2016, I led special discussion sections of the Humanities program for students with needs in basic writing. My students in these sections were minorities and international students of Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, and African American backgrounds.
I also edited professional papers and college application writings. For the latter, one of my clients received admission to UC Berkeley. Feel free to contact me for more info.
I use Headspace daily to train my mind for focus and reflections, and keep a blog that is shared among friends. If you feel stressed, try Headspace!