We are very much looking forward to leading the Formosa Quartet Seminar at the 2019 Taipei Music Academy & Festival 台北大師星秀音樂節 this August and joining TMAF’s all-star roster of faculty artists! Friends in Taiwan, reserve your tickets to any or all of the festival concerts today!
If you get a shot of your cellist suntanning in Maui, you can bet she’ll get you back.
In every city we perform in, our cellist Deborah is known for having an admirer, code-named “Matt”. In which of the following cities does she NOT have a “Matt”?
Which of these is NOT a dog in the Formosa Quartet family?
a) a Beagle and German Shepherd mix named Baci
b) a Jack Russell Terrier and Dachsund mix named Ashkii
c) a Siberian Husky named Zephyr
d) a Black Lab named Duckwater Shoshone
Which past situation does Cheyen like to remind Wayne of, every chance he gets?
a) When Cheyen accidentally walked into Wayne’s fitting room at Old Navy, Wayne was wearing lobster underwear.
b) While driving to a rehearsal, Cheyen had to pull over so Wayne could pee by the New Jersey Turnpike.
c) Cheyen defended Wayne at Giverny Festival when Wayne got in trouble for writing “tritones suck” on the bathroom wall.
d) Cheyen was Wayne’s chamber music coach at Juilliard.
What distracted Wayne during a Mendelssohn Octet rehearsal?
a) He received a text from Debbie, asking him to play softer.
b) One player’s legs were spread open to a near-180° angle, giving Wayne a stellar view of the crotch area.
c) Jasmine reeked of the garlic she’d eaten for lunch.
d) A bird landed on the windowsill and gobbled up a cricket he had noticed at the start of rehearsal.
Which of these conversations does Formosa Quartet have on nearly every trip?
— I think we should play the Carter cycle.
— Let’s do whatever it takes to become world-famous.
— OK, Carter cycle and boob jobs.
— And go onstage naked.
— Let’s go get Thai massages.
— Is that where they rub their breasts all over you?
— No, that’s a Thai bath.
— Your feet support you, and I support your feet. Therefore I support you.
— If you support my feet, does that mean you support my sole?
— I assumed your sole was in tow.
— Thank you!
— No, thank you!
— How many subsets are we at?
We had shooting lessons in Georgia recently. Can you guess which target is which Formosa’s? And who desisted?
Happy (belated) Lunar New Year, friends! We know our greetings are a little late — we’ve been on an action packed tour in Georgia (and away from the Polar Vortex that’s been sweeping through the Midwest!) — but we wanted to share a very special musical gift. Our new album “From Hungary to Taiwan” on Bridge Records is Classical KUSC’s DOWNLOAD of the week! To celebrate the Lunar New Year this week, you can download Wei-Chieh Lin’s “Rain Night Flower” from “Four Taiwanese Folk Songs”.
We hope you all enjoy this gift from us to you! Thank you, KUSC Radio, and Happy Lunar New Year to our friends and fans all over the globe! 🎉🎁
Jasmine, Wayne, Che-Yen, & Deborah
One of our favorite radio stations and hosts, WFMT Chicago’s Lisa Flynn has chosen FROM HUNGARY TO TAIWAN on her list of best new classical recordings! Click on the image above for more information!
FORMOSA QUARTET: FROM HUNGARY TO TAIWAN
A JOYOUS CELEBRATION OF “FOLK”
Formosa Quartet’s milestone album, From Hungary to Taiwan, was released by Bridge Records today. The album pairs three imaginative new works with Béla Bartók’s towering Fourth String Quartet, a nod to the group’s Taiwanese heritage and a celebration of “folk”, in every sense of the word.
The program juxtaposes two pairs: Hungarian folk music in two representations, and Taiwanese folk music in two representations. Formosa Quartet decided to commission composers Dana Wilson, Lei Liang, and Wei-Chieh Lin to create this fascinating view of cultural identity.
As liner notes annotator Ronald Robboy wrote, “This imaginative recording project offers treatments of folk music from Hungary and Taiwan that juxtapose the two in unexpected ways, illuminating different facets of their respective musical cultures and causing us to think more deeply about what can be meant by, not just the term ‘folk music,’ but by the music itself.”
The Hungarian set includes Bartók’s Fourth String Quartet, a piece which reflects the composer’s pioneering study and assimilation of Hungarian folk music. To pair with this piece, Formosa Quartet commissioned Hungarian Folk Songs by Dana Wilson, another representation of Hungarian folk music but in rawer form. As Wilson wrote in his score, “My task was not to create my own music inspired by folk tradition, as so many composers have done, but rather to try to capture key aspects of the traditional music itself.”
The Taiwanese set brings together two meanings of “folk,” with its salute to both indigenous Taiwanese cultures and the rich tradition of Taiwanese popular folk songs. Lei Liang’s Song Recollections shines light on the evocative and lesser-known music of the Taiwanese indigenous people who were the original inhabitants of the island. In contrast, Wei-Chieh Lin’s Four Taiwanese Folk Songs takes some of the best-known popular Taiwanese songs of the 20th century and weaves them into sonorous arrangements for the concert stage.
The album carries a powerful message — for Formosa Quartet, and also worldwide. The group originally formed for a 2002 concert tour of Taiwan, where they joined in the New Year’s festivities of the indigenous Ami people. Violinist Jasmine Lin says, “As we feasted and danced with the Ami, we felt a connection with the Taiwanese folk—not only as possible distant kin, but also as mutual strangers from opposite corners of the globe. That spirit of inclusiveness is an underlying theme of this album. Taiwan has long been a melting pot of cultures, both Asian and Western. The story of Hungary, too, long centered around its many ethnic minorities. Yet the culture of both regions is strongly distinctive. Preserving and representing such cultural identities has become more and more crucial amidst today's fast-paced globalization. Only through acknowledgement of each ingredient can we truly understand any melting pot.”
The album From Hungary to Taiwan is itself a musical melting pot, not definable by any one genre, but rather a rich fusion of folk, classical, contemporary, and world. The Formosa Quartet offers these sounds in celebration of the uniqueness of all individuals, and the collective spirit of humanity.
1-8. Dana Wilson: Hungarian Folk Songs (2008)
Dudatánc (bagpipe dance)
A Rátóti Legények (the Rátót lads)
Láncz, Láncz (chains, chains)
Porondos Viz Martján (on the river bank)
Ej Görbénye (Hey, Görbénye)
Máramarosi Táncok (dances in Máramures)
Nechocze Ty, Hanulienka Z Rana Do Trna (Don’t go at dawn, Hanulienka)
9. Lei Liang: Song Recollections (2016)
10-14. Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 4, Sz. 91 (1928)
Prestissimo, con sordino
Non troppo lento
15-18. Wei-Chieh Lin: Four Taiwanese Folk Songs (2016)
Seaport Goodbye | 港邊惜別
Hengchun Folksong | 恆春民謠
Dark Sky | 天黑黑
Rain Night Flower | 雨夜花
Producer: Clancy Newman
Engineer: Christopher Willis
Formosa Quartet interview 2008
Ayano Ninomiya, violin
Jasmine Lin, violin
Che-Yen Chen, viola
Jacob Braun, cello
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BEFORE GOING ON STAGE?
Che-Yen: Trying to play the most beautiful music that I possibly can, and to touch people's hearts. To genuinely express what I feel about the music and produce the best viola sound one ever heard.
Jake: Whether my strings are in tune. I think about the piece of music as a whole.
Ayano: To go out with my left foot leading first...a habit leftover from my old childhood quartet.
Jasmine: Whether my hair looks OK.
IF THE PRESIDENT WERE COMING OVER FOR DINNER, WHAT WOULD YOU COOK?
Che-Yen: Chinese, of course.
Ayano: Depends on which president.
Jasmine: Beef and broccoli with rice.
Jake: The president of the United States? George Bush? Macaroni and cheese.
If it were a different president I'd make something different. For Lincoln, I'd probably make some meat.
DESCRIBE YOUR FUNNIEST FORMOSA EXPERIENCE SO FAR.
Ayano: Funniest or fun-est? It was so much fun playing games! I think the funniest is yet to come....
Jasmine: They were checking out a guy I liked. They almost managed to behave normally in front of him. Afterwards all hell broke loose.
Che-Yen: When Jake dropped his bow on stage during a performance. I couldn't help bursting out laughing!
Jake: While we were waiting to go on stage for the donor's concert in London, no one can see Brian, and we're all wondering where the hell is Brian, and he had gone into the waiting room to fart.
WHICH OF YOUR NON-MUSICAL INTERESTS HELPS YOUR MUSIC THE MOST?
Jake: The games and sports that I play-- chess, cards, soccer, tennis. They keep my mind stimulated.
Jasmine: Loving my mother.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH?
Jake: I'm a good listener. I respect everyone in the group so much... I see the good in people
and I want to bring it out in them.
Jasmine: My heart.
Ayano: Standing head-to-knee pose in Bikram Yoga.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT FORMOSA QUARTET REHEARSALS?
Jake: I like how we have these pockets of incredible intensity, and we're able to lighten it up also.
Ayano: Mutual respect, admiration, camaraderie, encouragement.
Che-Yen: It's funny, silly, serious, and productive.
Jasmine: Laughing and lunch.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?
Ayano: Eggplant, maybe ratatouille?
Jasmine: Any kind of dumpling.
Che-Yen: Taichong meatballs and Chia Yi sticky rice. My mouth is watering now.
Jake: Eggs. Eggs and cheese and crackers. I love it. Fine cheeses. I love it.
I really do love eggs too. Eggs benedict. It doesn't get any more glorious than that.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE: IN AN IDEAL WORLD...
Che-Yen: everyone loves everyone else.
Ayano: there would be no dust.
Jasmine: I would be every man's dream salsa partner.
Jake: teachers and artists would be paid as much as athletes.
No-- I don't like that answer. Actually, I'm not crazy about the question.
What were we doing on our Germany tour?
seeing stepping pausing facing
belonging greeting returning crossing
opening looking framing calling
asking answering reaching stating
opening nearing anchoring moving
tossing flinging widening turning
imbibing dreaming blinking inhaling
Who snapped a photo
of shadows by the Fishnet:
riddle or haiku?
Formosa Quartet returns to Kneisel Hall in Maine, where 3 of its 4 members spent some of their happiest summers. Open rehearsal on August 31, concert on Sept 2.
FQ: At what age did you begin doing Cryptoquips?
SC: I was much too old. Given that they are a sleep aid for me, I bemoan my many decades of relying on warm milk, ambien, doing breathing exercises, reading boring stuff, etc. to help me sleep.
FQ: Which Cryptoquip master has had the most influence on your cryptoquipping style?
SC: Probably my friend, Peggy, who about 10 years ago was the person who introduced me to them at her cabin in Vermont. Since then I’ve been on my own.
FQ: What have been some highlights of your career as a Cryptoquipist thus far?
SC: Solving it with only 1 letter that matches. That had to evolve though — at first when I saw that situation I would just say “that’s mean of them” and quit. Then back to drinking warm milk which is kind of yucky when you think about it, because you either get re-energized getting up to brush your teeth or sleep with the taste of milk — both unappealing. But no more — I keep going. On occasion, if I’m falling asleep in the middle of it, I will finish it the next day.
FQ: What is your record time for completing a Cryptoquip?
SC: I guess I better start timing them. I worry though that that may mess up my sleeping strategy.
FQ: Do you recommend eating while cryptoquipping?
SC: Never. I don’t eat in bed. This is my routine: I go to bed, first read the comics, then start the Cryptoquip. I take my time, trying not to get impatient. The first pleasure is completing it; the second is waking my husband up, if necessary, to read him the pun and listen to his groan and his verdict — most often it’s, “that’s really terrible,” but once in a while I hit the jackpot with “that’s not bad.” Then I’m ready to sleep.
Susan Chamberlain lives in Piedmont CA with her husband John Chalik, the one who groans at puns. Together, they bear the formal title of The Foremost, Finest, Fun-est, Fabulous-est, and Fiendishly-Alliterative-est Friends of Formosa Quartet, and of Piedmont Chamber Music Festival, where FQ will in in residence July 30-Aug 5.
Three weeks ago, from April 23-28 we had the pleasure of being guest artists-in-residence at the Campanile Music Festival at San Diego State University. After nine months of brutally cold winter weather, flying to sunny skies, warm weather...and the best tacos (ever...outside of Mexico) was a welcome treat. Did we mention mentoring with the next generation of budding young artists was the cherry on top? In addition to giving instrumental and chamber music masterclasses, we performed Elgar's Introduction and Allegro with the SDSU Chamber Orchestra, joined forces with the amazing Hausmann Quartet in a performance of Mendelssohn's Octet, and gave a special final concert at Scripps Cottage, which included our dear friend, Wei-Chieh Lin's Taiwanese Folk Songs, Beethoven's Opus 59 No. 3, and a revamped set of Grappelli Tunes by Jasmine
Thanks to artistic director, Pei-Chun Tsai, all the volunteers and musicians at Campanile Festival, and our incredible hosts who made this residency a memorable visit.
Wow! Thanks to Keith Powers of Chamber-Music America for featuring Formosa Quartet and our upcoming album 'From Hungary to Taiwan' in this month's magazine! It is a very special recording featuring Bartok's Fourth Quartet and three Formosa commissions by Dana Wilson, Wei-Chieh Jay Lin, and Lei Liang. We know many of you are eagerly waiting for the release — we're at the final stages, about to do photos for the cover, and promise the wait will be worth it!
Cheyen is in the closet.
Jasmine is wearing the same thing she wore yesterday morning.
Wayne has cucumber slices on his breakfast plate.
Debbie covers her yawns with her left hand (evidence available upon request).
Business is not always heat, passion, and excitement.
No creative endeavor is possible without the rallying support of equally creative individuals in the community who see the value and impact of music, education, and art. Thank you to Eastern Michigan University's School of Music & Dance for hosting us for a week of intense music making and collaboration with your next generation of young artists and to all the donors and sponsors who rallied to bring us to Michigan!
Brick & Mortar Modern General Store
Cultivate Coffee & Tap
Sidetrack Bar & Grill
Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea
Women in Philanthropy at EMU
Beeyi Chen & Yihung Jerry Wu
Pei-Ling & Ian Chen
Wendy Hua Chen
Chin Huey Chao
Sue Mei Dixon
Eastern Michigan University Bands
Eastern Michigan University’s College of Arts & Sciences
Eastern Michigan University Marketing
Eastern Michigan University’s School of Music & Dance
Marilyn & Carter Eggers
Lisa Luo Yi Hou
Christina & Roland G. Hwang
Sue Hua Lai
Shu-Fen & Chung-Liang Lin
Wendy Wen Yu Liu
Michigan Taiwanese American Organization (MITAI Charity)
Yuk Fan & Ye Chen Pan
Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of Greater Detroit
Nina Sun & Benjamin Y. Wang
Su-Mei & Ching Hsong Wu
Shih-Wen Wu & Yung-Ming Chen
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
The Eastern ECHO
Michigan Chinese American News
The World Journal
On February 12-17, 2018, Formosa Quartet will be guest artists-in-residence at Eastern Michigan University's School of Music & Dance in Ypsilanti, MI. During this residency, we'll be leading masterclasses, open rehearsals, and workshops on of master classes, open rehearsals, and workshops on performance, community engagement, and career development. We'll be engaging with over 200 of the students!
The week's activities will conclude with two performances — on February 15, Joel Puckett's Short Stories with the EMU Wind Symphony and on February 16, a special Formosa concert, which happens to land on the Lunar New Year! This is our first time playing in Michigan and Jasmine wrote a brilliant blog for SHAR Music about the origins of the quartet, how we've stayed such a tight-knit ensemble and friends for 15 years, and what to expect next week! Click on the image above to read the blog post.
Thank you to SHAR Music for sponsoring the quartet during this exciting residency at Eastern Michigan University next week! If you are a Michigander or nearby the quaint town of Ypsilanti, come join us!
Formosa performed in Jakarta recently. We worked, we drank coffee, we ate apple pie that did not look or taste anything like apple pie, we heard morning prayers at 4:30 am, and we got massages to write home about. Home is you; so we're writing you to tell about Wayne's massage.
Wayne and his masseuse had some wee troubles communicating. When he entered the room, she instructed incoherently, "Underwear underwear", pointing to a foot bath basin. When she left the room, he stripped down to his underwear. There was no water in the basin so he just sat near it, thus (un)clothed — a position which quickly became awkward and prompted him to put all clothes back on. When she came back in, without knocking, she handed him a pair of panties for him to put on. They were extra-extra-extra-large. He stripped down to his underwear again and drew the panties over them, but had to continually hold the panties up so they wouldn't drop to the floor. At this point his masseuse approached him and — after sufficient searching and fumbling — located, extracted, and tightened the drawstring of the aforesaid panties. And now that you've seen the word "panties" 5 times, we'll show you what they looked like.
At the time when this blog was drafted, Wayne was receiving his second Indonesian massage. Stay tuned for more broadcasts of an intimate nature.
Thank you, thank you, and no-end thank you to every one of our 68 "From Hungary to Taiwan" campaign backers. We are deeply touched by your support.
Our bow hair, which started full at the beginning of the recording sessions, sported gaps after just one day. Each evening after 12 hours of recording, we were inert lumps of dead weight, trying to recover before the 8:30 start next morning. After highly intense takes, our hearts were pounding, our breath short, our shirts wet, and our cellist's finger bleeding under the skin.
These gargantuan stretches of effort were unconsciously elicited, ounce by ounce, by our enormous gratitude to you.