my 1st flute recital & a memorial in fragments
Last summer, I had no gigs in sight — nothing to keep me practicing except my own sense of wanting to be a musician. So I started these mini-projects called "sound doodles," where I recorded myself practicing for fun and published a clip on my blog, along with scattered thoughts on life.
Sound doodles kept me thinking, dreaming, & creating during a dry season. My hope is, they'll do the same for me now.
Two weeks ago, there was a mass shooting back home in San Jose. Ten people were killed, including the gunman.
In public discourse, not all mass shootings are equal. Some lead to stronger reactions because they are deeply felt among specific communities. As for the shooting back home, there was no identity to paste upon this tragedy. So it garnered little to no attention in my social circles (which, granted, are small).
To me, the nearness of such a profound act of violence — its excruciating proximity to where I grew up, where much of my family lives — leaves a shadow. I can't forget easily.
So I recorded fragments of music as a memorial for the victims of this shooting, a gesture of compassion towards their loved ones. Chances are, they will never come across this imperfect and incomplete recording, deep in grief and the question of how to live when a loved one has died.
But as someone on the fringes of a collective grief, I wanted to hold space for this tragedy on my blog, now an extension of my creative self.
I chose music from the second movement of a sonata by Otar Taktakishvili. The first movement is what I performed at my first flute recital, nine years ago — a 5-minute drive from where the mass shooting occurred. Below is my dad’s recording of that performance.
(Towards the middle of this recording, I see the commitment to expressiveness I've always had, but free from self-doubt. I see the passion for beauty and storytelling that almost wasn’t enough to keep me from quitting after years of discouragement about my technique.)
Performed in 2012 with pianist Hiroko Mizuno at the flute studio recital of Natalie Haworth-Liu.
The clip below is an incoherent sequel to the performance above, a fragmented memorial to nine people who lived in my hometown.
These clips of my playing are earnest, yet inadequate to memorialize the real, breathing humans who should not have died when they did, not in this way. To Paul Delacruz Megia, Taptejdeep Singh, Adrian Balleza, Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, Timothy Michael Romo, Michael Joseph Rudometkin, Alex Ward Fritch, Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, and Lars Kepler Lane.
It's not enough, but it's all I have.
Screenshot from a live performance last month for the Brooklyn Rail's virtual series, the New Social Environment.
In a performance, the musician already knows what they are going to say. In the practice room, they are actively searching, constantly stopping and restarting. I share recordings of my practicing to express where I am — at the very beginning of my career, sometimes wishing creative work could fill all the holes left by life and death, brimming with more questions than answers.