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My Adventures in January
Colorful Sights and Musical Sounds to Start Off the New Year
As the march of time crossed over the threshold into 2023, I did not have any grandiose plans for the new year other than making the most out of what I already have—performing music, spending time with friends and loved ones, making more art, and staying in good health. Nonetheless, the first month of the year has had some lovely moments. I wanted to share some of them with you in this issue of WPR.
Half of what I need to do as an artist is to actively engage with the world. I grapple with topics that interest me. I put myself in unfamiliar situations and have lively conversations with interesting people. I venture out into nature and soak in its splendor. If I do none of these things, my own art has nothing to grow from.
The window I look out of is also the window from which the world looks in, and I like big windows.
So far, my view of 2023 has been superb.
On January 8, I performed my first show of the year at the French House in Nashville. It was a solid first run of my multimedia show that now serves as a firm foundation for the second one that happens on April 1. I wrote all about it in this previous issue of WPR:
On Sunday, January 15, I played piano for the opening reception of my friend Suzy Slykin’s art exhibit, Dilation, at the Arts Center of Cannon County in Woodbury, TN. (For any of you who live nearby, her show runs until February 17. It’s totally worth a visit!) It was inspiring to help create the mood for an enormous room that showcased her bold, expressive, and playful paintings. I am a fan of her work and have some of her paintings in my art collection. Check out her new website to get a glimpse of the magic she makes.
On Saturday night, January 21, my partner MaxZine and I were invited to a performance of the opera Stuck Elevator at the Nashville Opera. We attended the second of three debut performances of this modern and lively production about a Chinese immigrant food delivery man who gets stuck in an elevator of a high-rise in New York City for over 80 hours.
Based on actual events, this show was a rousing exploration of the immigrant experience in America. It sheds light on the alienation, social pressures, immense financial strain, racism, and fear that many immigrants struggle through. As a Filipino immigrant, I sympathized with so much of its story.
This production also featured a cast that was entirely people of color and predominantly Asian—a rarity in this part of the country. I got to meet the opera’s composer Byron Au Yong, its extremely talented lead actor Julius Ahn (both pictured below), and most of the ensemble cast at an afterparty that was held at a friend’s house the following night.
On Saturday, January 28, some friends and I attended a piano concert by pianist Kaylina Crawley in the mansion of the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville. She performed a variety of classical and contemporary pieces on the estate’s gorgeous, custom-made Steinway baby grand piano. Watching other pianists make music is one of my favorite things to do, and everything from the selection of musical pieces, her nuanced playing, and the old-world setting was full of charm. I always learn a lot when I see fellow pianists play.
On the same day as that piano concert, the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens premiered its 2023 Orchid Show. Hundreds of delicate orchids were draped across the Cheekwood mansion’s enormous sunroom. These blooms were stunning to behold.
I always make time for my family whenever possible. On Friday, January 27, we celebrated my older sister’s birthday with balloons, flowers, and delicious Thai food over lunch.
My mom and her husband have been attending a big family reunion in the Philippines. I have spent the last two weeks of January in Nashville house-sitting and caring for our family dog Roxy. It is no secret that I am a cat person, but this dog has won over my heart. She is affectionate, attentive, calm, and extremely friendly to everyone. We have been going on long daily walks together, and she lives for belly rubs. She is one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met.
Lastly, I wanted to highlight one of the four books that I read last month. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is a work of historical fiction that takes place during Japan’s imperialist era when it colonized Korea leading up to World War II. It chronicles four generations of one Korean family through war, famine, disease, and lifelong struggles to become financially independent despite the violent racism and classism that many Koreans faced in that era.
This book’s saga is certainly not a fluffy and happy narrative, but it is a tender and poignant story of how the expressive love of a parent can be passed down to succeeding generations. This love sustains this family through decades of hardship. Pachinko is a harrowing but beautiful tale.
February is already upon us, and I must continue with this life I am living. I do not entirely know what adventures lie ahead, but I cannot wait to find out!
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