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adventures of a sound.traveller

a space where i hope to share with you the hopefully interesting projects im currently working on / have worked on, the soundscapes all around me that i am constantly discovering and re-discovering (oh, what joys!!!), any other random and delightfully weird thoughts regarding sounds, music and its friends. share with me yours too, please do!

The Multitudes Within Us / the films part ii

Yun Qi Wong

The main inspiration for our first film was the project’s theme of embracing multiple personalities within each of us - it featured music from Robert Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze which were a huge catalyst for me whilst conceptualising the project - the cycle is as brilliantly mercurial in its kaleidoscopic moods as I imagine Schumann to have been in real life (and as he has been documented to have been!), slipping often without warning into a new personality, and gripping in its rawness. It offers one that mind-blowing glimpse into the inner world(s) of Schumann´s soul. The film opens with excerpts from Felix Leuschner´s “leftovers 1”, written for me and premiered in August 2018 - this was the perfect modern take on the many soliloquies we all know so intimately, with Felix´s amazing electronics undertaking the role of my mind's many other selves.

If the project´s theme takes centerstage in the first film, then this second film draws its ideas directly from the music that make up my programme, with the limelight on György Ligeti and Maurice Ravel, the distinctly constrasting musical styles and individual personalities of each composer as well as the stories behind each work, essentially allowing the music to guide our visuals. We hoped to capture that sense of time coming to a standstill, that otherworldly grace and meditative stillness (ingeniously evoked by completely clashing rhythmic lines!) in Ligeti´s En Suspens, and that nervous, unpredictable energy that´s omnipresent in Ravel´s Noctuelles - inspired by these lines by the french poet and friend of Ravel, Léon-Paul Fargue´s: “The nocturnal moths in their barns launch themselves clumsily into the air, going from one perch to another”.

Meanwhile, Isaac Albéniz´s Corpus Christi - a celebration of life and death in unbridled, primitive energy and passion - literally frames the entire film - setting the stage at the beginning, and bringing us back to reality at the end.

Just hangin´ there…(the After shot)

Just gettin´ started…(the Before shot!)

Whilst the shots in the first film required much more in-depth brainstorming on how best to visually represent the inner multitudes as well as preparation of props and costumes, the second film was all about creative spontaneity and being able to adjust to all kinds of conditions (all Isabel!!!) whilst getting a good work out (thank you piano muscles and yoga!)..tricky business!

We shot the lake scenes at the Kletterwald Nord with Lady Luck very much on our side in so many aspects - timing, logistics, weather, lighting, permissions, wonderful crew… I was given a crash course for the parcours and then off we went. The images were well worth the insane amount of climbing in concert attire (yes…high heels!! plus creative hiding of those bulky zipline equipment!), and flying over that gorgeous lake was simply incredible. I´m definitely returning again - this time with just normal climbing outfits ;)

All other scenes were shot at the idyllic Stechinelli Carré which came complete with a private piece of forest, a barn (which we used for the Ravel shots…too literal..? but who cares! it was perfect! ), a grand piano, and everything else one could ever wish for working on a project like this. Once again, we were incredibly lucky and just thinking back fills my heart with immense love and gratitude to everyone and everything that made this not just possible, but a joy to work on together and bring to life.

here it is, the second film!

much love, Yun Qi

Filmmaker / Isabel Robson

Sound Engineer / Oliver Rogalla von Heyden

Music / Isaac Albéniz, György Ligeti, Maurice Ravel

Texts / Agnes Chew, “The Desire for Elsewhere”

Make-up / Maria Schwerdtfeger

Assistants / Chun Yi Yeo, Claus Blänkner, and Yvonne Peckmann-Haarstick

Special thanks / Stechinelli Carré, Kletterwald Nord

a summer day's sound diary

Yun Qi Wong

Yesterday whilst cleaning up the website, I discovered my very first blogpost from 2013 (its been 6 years!?!), and was shockingly reminded of one of the reasons I started this blog section in the first place: to create sound diaries - little journal entries of my days and travels, but capturing these moments purely through my ears, rather than my eyes. Acoustic snapshots if you will, to take the place of visual memories. That was also the impetus behind my sound.travels project - an invitation to audiences to be soundscape tourists with us, whether it be through geographical travels, a trip down memory lane, or an exploration of our inner worlds.

Well, I completely forgot about sound diaries, and so here’s my second one, six years on. let’s hope its not another six years before I write a third one. In any case, I am certainly re-inspired! It definitely encourages one to be completely present, in both my travels and in my daily experiences.

Its 5:15PM on a Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting in the garden.

The afternoon summer air is still, and at the same time its literally buzzing with so much life - the zzzzzzs of very busy bees as they frantically dance from one flower to the next, overwhelmed by the neverending all-day buffet that’s on offer. Right now there’s an extremely constant zzzz behind me…verging on the edge of being almost painful. Crazy, how much noise such a tiny being creates by merely vibrating the very air around it. And now, a sharp ZZZ!! fading right away again into ZZZzz…zzzz….zzzz as it very nearly hits my head and makes it just in time round the corner, away into the distance.

Up above, an unknown species of bird goes “kiap, kiap, kiap…” while yet another unknown bird replies, higher pitched: “peeep peeep peeep peeep peeeep peep peep peeeeeeeep”. Almost immediately, from my right, a sudden deep-throated intrustion, almost a croak. And all this while, the bees buzz and buzz….summ summ summ…and the wind gently ruffles and rustles the grapevines. Then, a sudden huge sssswwwshsssshhhhhh, pppplllllpppp, ebbing yet again into gentleness.

My neighbours’ distant laughter and conversations drift over, and somewhere to the right, a slam dunk is scored. I hear the steady beating of my own heart, and the inhale and exhale of my breaths.

All around me, its an agitated symphony of bees abuzz, coupled with wondrous wild whirls of wind.

This is summer in northern Germany.

I would love to experience your personal sound diaries, if you would like to share! feel free to send me a mail, or simply comment. have a lovely remaining Sunday!

The Multitudes Within Us / the films

Yun Qi Wong

I love coming up with themes for my projects and finding the red threads connecting pieces together which at first glance might have nothing to do with each other. I love researching these as well as coming up with design and texts for each respective publicity collateral, and finally presenting the concerts with a narrative. Each of these become my babies as I work on them over months, bringing them from fuzzy sketches and fantasies into life.

This project however, has been my obsession for the past three (!!) years, bringing things to a whole new level. In a way its accompanied, inspired and catalysed my personal development. Its made me reflect deeply, question myself, get to know myself better and taken me right out of my comfort zone.

I no longer know exactly how I came to the theme of “The Multitudes Within Us” (in german: Zwiegespräch - die Stimmen in uns). All I now know and realise is this: for so many years I have been putting labels on myself, sticking myself into a few definite categories - not just professionally but also in my personal life - and therefore essentially cutting myself away from the endless possibilities out there.

Diving deeper into the project made me realise how much I craved to produce a series of films that would offer not just an audio experience, but also a visual glimpse into the world of '“The Multitudes Within Us” - the worlds that exist in us. So here it is - after months of planning, brainstorming, emails and phone calls. 57893 hours of prop making/sourcing, location scouting. 3 full days of actual filming. 1 day of sound recording. 2349872998768 hours of editing - our first film, accompanied by a series of behind the scene shots taken by my husband. We ended up with this film offering a little glimpse into the multitudes that exist within us. There are so many more, but you get the idea. Obviously this is a very personal interpretation, but perhaps you might identify too with some of them….

what´s left of us at the end of our lives...? how have we existed? the search for our selves leads us to this incredible mishmash of multitudes, existing all at the same time within us...

the rebel. the wild child. the one with her head up in the clouds, dreaming up a thousand different fantasies all at once. the fun-loving one, all full of sass. our inner child. the focused one, obsessed with straight lines and keeping order. the brooding girl with the dark thoughts. the free spirit, floating through life´s journey, never once touching ground. the sleepless one, tossing and turning.

they are all part of us. they make us who we are - unique, and wonderfully incomplete.

I was incredibly lucky to work with filmmaker Isabel Robson on these films. Not only did Isabel bring to life many of my wild ideas, some of which I never imagined would be possible (but still went ahead to suggest anyway..), but she also brought her special touch of magic to them in ways that always made me go “wow” and “YES”. I loved working together with her, can think of no better person to have done these films with.

We were also blessed with the support of our two dreamy locations where we were able to work to our heart´s content without being disturbed, the talented makeup artist Maria Schwerdtfeger, and a small but strong team of assistants (aka very selfless and super motivated friends and my husband!) who helped do everything from making/sourcing props, driving us around for hours, keeping us on tight schedules, to collecting leaves, cleaning up locations, the list goes on…

Hope you enjoy this film as much as we did producing it. Our little labour of love.

Much love,

Yun Qi


Filmmaker / Isabel Robson

Sound Engineer / Oliver Rogalla von Heyden

Music / Felix Leuschner, Robert Schumann

Texts / Agnes Chew, “The Desire for Elsewhere”

Make-up / Maria Schwerdtfeger

Assistants / Chun Yi Yeo, Claus Blänkner, and Yvonne Peckmann-Haarstick

Special thanks / Stechinelli Carré, Kletterwald Nord

goodbye 2018, hello 2019

Yun Qi Wong

2018. You went by in the blink of an eye, and yet, so much happened. Just goes to show once again how our perception of time is constantly changing - it seems to fly right by us in the heat of things, but in retrospect, a year can be unbelievably long and jam packed with events, making me wonder: did all that really take place in one single year?

last hikes of 2018 / the breathtaking landscape at the Zhuilu Old Trail in Hualien, Taiwan

last hikes of 2018 / the breathtaking landscape at the Zhuilu Old Trail in Hualien, Taiwan

A few days ago, I read about someone who did a list of More/Less - things she would like to do more, or less, in this coming year - as opposed to a list of resolutions. I decided to give it a go, so here’s mine, and here’s hoping I’ll be able to live up to this list a little!

20190104_224047-01.jpeg

There have been many projects floating around in my mind for the past year/s, slowly taking shape, slowly germinating. I hope this is the year I will find the courage and that kick in the butt to bring these little babies into fruition - the beginning of each year always carries a tiny sparkle of magic and hope and raw energy. Perhaps edged with a tinge of desperation by time slipping through our fingers? Or perhaps the seed of excitement at the possibility of things and the unknown.

Let´s grasp this precious little time we are given and see where it brings us. In the meantime, fingers crossed I´ll be sharing more from these projects on this space over time!

Intangible

Yun Qi Wong

On my dark days where all i see around me is shadows and hope seems like a lifetime away, I doubt my every decision and every move. i question yet again the value of music as a career - am I contributing to society with this, am i making a difference to the lives of others, is this a superficial job?! (I know, shocking that I even entertain such thoughts…)

true, its nothing life-changing. Nor life-saving. and yet, when i truly think about it, it is. so very much.

my very first live-performance was probably when i was four years old. it was “Cats”, and i surprisingly remember the experience (contrary to “remembering” based on my mother´s recollections to me) of sitting in the Victoria Theater in Singapore, all in the dark, and the huge cat figures all around us, the sounds they made. I remember that fascination I had for this fantasy world we lived in, if only for an evening.

ten years ago I experienced my very first Jörg Mannes choreography. It was the production of “Lux” and it was mindblowing. I sat there transfixed, as the entire stage - covered in black sand and underlit with a fiery light - came alive through the dancers’ explosive movements. Tears welled up as my heart opened and a fury of emotions caught me unawares. The next day I bought my very own copy of the music from “Lux” - Giovanni Sollima’s album “We were Trees”. Ten years down the road, I still catch as many productions I can of Mannes' works, some many times over. It is one of my favourite things - the world halts to a standstill for the two hours as I lose myself in the achingly sublime coming together of music and movement, brimming with cheeky humour, grace, a kaleidoscope of emotions, and the wildest of imagination.

There is also the evening I spent in Tunbridge Wells with a dear friend, a glass of wine in hand, listening to her Spotify playlist. Neil Diamond’s “If You Go Away” came on and as he sang: But if you stay I'll make you a day / Like no day has been or will be again / We'll sail on the sun, we'll ride on the rain / We'll talk to the trees and worship the wind”, something about that potent mix of raw emotions in his voice and those words opened the floodgates in me and I grieved, for all the people I’ll never get to have another day with.

I could go on like this for days. There are so many more memories and experiences, like glittering jewels in the treasure chest of my heart that I just keep adding to and which make up the sum of my life. Like the first time I came across a huge Gerhard Richter painting in Köln and it sucked me right into its whirlpool. Like the first time I read the poetry of Alvin Pang and Agnes Chew, and teared right there in the bookstore because there was so much YES! in their writings, speaking right to me. Like the first times I heard Andreas Scholl, Patricia Kopatchinskaja or the Uptown Jazz Orchestra live in concert and my jaw ached afterwards from too much joy.

Art is everywhere ;) Here, on the streets in Vancouver

Art is everywhere ;) Here, on the streets in Vancouver

So yes, this is a gift. And YES, it is indeed, truly live changing.

The power and the magic of the Arts is something so intangible that we often undermine them. And yet without them our lives, our very being would be so much poorer. They are an outlet for our emotions, the happy ones, the dark ones, and all those in between and beyond; those we have kept pent up and repressed, of which we might or might not be aware of. The Arts provoke us, they comfort, embrace and ignite us.

They awaken our souls and make us alive, rather than just purely existing. If we let them.

on change

Yun Qi Wong

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different” - C.S. Lewis

hello world. its been a long long time. two years to be exact. 

so much has happened in these two years. but perhaps the most important lesson i have learnt is that change happens, all the time, and you can't fight it. Rather than fighting change, let's embrace it with open arms. 

because let's face it: every single day we wake up a new person. Our wants and needs and priorities will always be shifting each day. Our bodies are changing all the time. Our souls, our hearts and our grey matter - they too are constantly growing and shifting. And just like the earth and like how Mother Nature is constantly shifting and changing, we are too. that IS the natural way of life. 

I am taking baby steps each day to acknowledge that and to enjoy this beautiful phenomenon without placing any judgement. Something I have been fighting against so much. Pretty crazy when you think about it, to constantly be comparing our current self against all our older selves. To fight against what our entire being needs at every different moment of our lives.  

Its tough to let go and just BE. but i try. 

 

 

authenticity

Yun Qi Wong

I had the pleasure and honour of co-repetiting a clarinet masterclass of Johannes Peitz in June and one of the conversations that stuck with me was of being real as a musician. A while ago, I stumbled upon an article which reminded me of that, and had to share THIS

“It seems to me that being authentic is being brave enough or just candid enough to be honest about what you are experiencing or who you are, whether it is popular are not. A person gives a gift to other people when they say, ‘This is what happened to me or this is how I truly feel, no matter what the popular belief is about what I should feel.’ Whenever you are honest, you are speaking for a thousand silent people who don’t have the voice to say what they really feel or are really experiencing. So, if you ever talk about [the thing you went through], you will touch a million hearts. Because you are speaking for more than just yourself. You are never alone in what you are feeling. I love you.”

One of the things I enjoy most about being a musician is the entire process. The process of learning a work, taking it apart, getting to know it from the composer's perspective, getting to know it from our own perspectives, developing personal feelings for it, muddling and obsessing over it.

It is an intimate journey. One which takes a whole lot of time to grow and germinate. 

And then we go out there and share it with the world. That's the moment we try to be brave, to strip away our egos and bare ourselves to the world as we are:

This is me, just as I am. With all my strengths, my weaknesses, my heart, my soul. Thank you for sharing with me this music, these emotions, these experiences. 

its the small moments

Yun Qi Wong

the sight I am treated to daily whilst cycling to work through the Eilenriede

the sight I am treated to daily whilst cycling to work through the Eilenriede

It has been such a good, good week. 

Nothing spectacular happened, but I was able to sit down almost everyday with one or two friends for really share and catch up with a bunch of honest, meaningful talks and belly-aching laughs. Not just a rushed, hurried meetup.  

We might not have been able to save the world with these catchups, but they powered me right through the entire week, charging me up with so much joy and energy and inspiration I was burning to share with all the people I was working with. I did SO much work this week, and at the end of it, I was still ready for more. 

Its the little moments like these that make such a huge difference. And it is these moments which I cherish so much. And I am glad we made time for them despite our crazy schedules. Because ultimately, these are the moments we will carry with us. 

Yesterday I stumbled upon this article which I want to share with you: http://therumpus.net/2011/02/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-64/

This is such a good reminder to myself: "Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you." 

and this, always: "One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.

Say thank you." 

have a good weekend, folks!

magic.

Yun Qi Wong

magic 

is in the tiny blank spaces between black notes; in what lies behind the blobs and splashes of inks we named staccato, tenuto, marcato, phrasemarks and the likes.

is in the rubber band flexibility of this wondrous concept we call time -  floating about in the air, waiting to be played with, shaped and moulded by us. to be injected with a shot of life. 

is when black and white on stiff paper spring to life in all colours imaginable with every possible shade in between, layered with that play of light and shadow. 

is when the beauty of it all grips you right at your beating heart and you have to gasp for air. when the emotions you forgot hit you with a force from within. it is after you have zoomed in all the way to the microscopic details, then strip them all away to reveal the soul in its barest form. 

is when it is over and you just want to hold on to that moment, just sit there and be still, savouring all that is ringing on in the air, and in you. 

all that is music. music is magic. 

ich liebe mein leben

Yun Qi Wong

2015 was a mad, mad year. I am still digesting all the events that happened and trying to make sense of how they all took place within such a short span of time which ironically, did not feel that way at all. Time is a crazy fellow, playing tricks on us. 

2015 brought me to the U.S. of A for the very first time in my life, and boy, were my expectations met. We lost my father-in-law to cancer. I flew back home for about six times (enough to instil a healthy dose of fear of airports and flights), and in between all that I had a bunch of exciting projects and got to work intensively with a lot of young musicians which brought me much joy.  

this post is definitely a tad too late to be called my new year's post, but seeing as yesterday was the real new year in my culture, i think we can safely say it still counts ;) 

2015 was also filled with great conversations with an inspiring group of beautiful and strong people I am honoured to call my family and friends. C and I walked deeper into the world of Yoga and emerged with better mental and physical strength. ditto to my Atemtherapie and Sprecherziehung lessons! 

I think the greatest lesson i took away from 2015 was learning to honour myself. To recognize that I am worthy of the same kind of respect I want to give unto others - not just from others, but more importantly, from myself. I learnt to respect my needs and to listen to my body more. To stand up for these needs, because like it or not, if even I could not be bothered to, who would? 

That the time I set aside as me-time is every bit important as the time I set aside for others - not honouring that ultimately meant I had nothing left to give to others if I was all burnt out. I learnt to say 'No' more often, and not to be such a pushover. 

These are lessons accumulated over the recent years, but only started crystallising, becoming conscious efforts over the last months. It was, and is still not easy for me. I think many of us were in some way, educated and conditioned in a manner which did not instil this strongly within us. However, it has been liberating, empowering and humbling for me. I also learnt that honouring myself did not have to mean acting arrogantly, nor did it mean I was selfish. 

and so, armed with this bunch of new discoveries, I am looking forward to whatever 2016 throws at me. because: 

HELL YEAH! and i hope you do too!

HELL YEAH! and i hope you do too!