HUALIEN HOUSE CONCERT
A few weeks ago I finally did my first living-room concert in Taiwan. I was going to go to the East Coast anyway, and since the travelling takes quite long, I hoped I could do one or two more performances. Earlier this year I had stayed in the house of a lady, Yi-Hen, who had joined some of my workshops. I immediately felt at home at her house, which is spacious, light, with all kinds of interesting interior design, like lamps made of out of branches. Yi-Hen is also a musician and music teacher, so we had played together and listened to each other.
I learnt that soon she would be receiving guests for an informal gathering to share new experiences. So when my next visit to Hualien came up, I decided to try my luck and see if she would be willing to host a concert of my music, and also doing some pieces together. She readily agreed and made all the necessary preparations, together with another new friend/student, Jackal, who organised my East Coast ‘tour’.
We kept it low-key and off-the radar, inviting only people we already knew. And happily – despite a late notice- quite a few turned up, about 15 people. There were plenty of lovely snacks and drinks (the Taiwanese are very passionate about sharing special, local food and drinks). We put all our instruments together, made a plan and presented about one hour of music. For some people it was indeed unusual to join an event like this, but the overall feedback was great, and some were very enthusiastic.
LIVE IN THE LIVING ROOM
To me, the idea of a house concert is not so new, and I would love to do more of this in Taiwan. Around twenty years ago a good friend of mine, Rick Treffers, started Live In The Living Room, organising performances of singer-songwriters (like himself) at people’s home. Intimate, easy-going events hosted by people around Holland who were interested in this type of music, and who were willing to sacrifice some time and energy to organise and prepare everything. The format caught on, Rick and a partner managed to promote the format across the Netherlands and it was even picked up abroad, in Germany, he told me recently.
Much earlier, when I was a kid, my parents used to host a small concert (perhaps a string quartet or a pianist) or a talk of some researcher or author, at our home. A few times a year they went to friends’ houses to do the same there. There were drinks and snacks, there was time to the special guest and each other. There was also a national platform that shared interesting guests who would then receive invitations invitations in other Dutch towns or cities for an intimate evening of sharing music, ideas, and fingerfood.
MUD STUDIO, YILAN
On the way to Hualien I passed by Yilan very early in the morning. I had just received an invitation to come and check out Mud Studio, a new sound studio with vintage equipment. It turned out to be the perfect warm-up for my three days of performances and workshops. The hosts showed me fantastic old equipment in top-condition, played some absolutely great traditional music from India and China, and we finished with a test-recording of my singing and several instruments. Oh there was white tea too, quite rare but gorgeous. This winter I hope we’ll do some more serious recordings with these amazing vintage microphones and amps. We also discussed a sort of ‘living room concert’ there.