E-Newsletter No. 1 (November, 2018)
撰稿：黃心芸/Written by Hsin-Yun Huang
編輯：鄭恩麒/Edited by En-Chi Cheng
嶄新的章節/Introducing New Chapter
Being an Asian American violist means listening and learning from different perspectives all the time. Whether starting out to master the instrument, thinking of applying to your next schools, falling in love with string quartet (as I did) or looking to secure a professional position. We hope to be helpful to all violists in seeking joy on this unexpectedly wonderful journey. Music is life and it is a privilege to share this passion.
By Hsin-Yun Huang
紀念/In Memory of Michael Tree (1934/2/19-2018/3/30)
誤闖虎穴 命懸一線 Close Shave
故事是這樣的，鼎鼎大名的瓜奈里四重奏(The Guarneri Quartet)有一次從美國紐約去到澳洲巡演，這可不是一趟輕鬆的旅程，當時需要轉機多次方能到達遙遠的彼端，也因此一口氣安排了為期3~4週，十幾場的演出。通常酬勞是在最後一場演出後一併開支票或轉帳給音樂家們，然而那個時代尚未流行這麼先進的金融模式，所以只能領取現金，可想最頂尖的四重奏一次領到等值一個月薪水的現鈔，會是多麼地壯觀。
「服務員當下看到這場景，四個男子圍著一張滿是鈔票的大床，肯定認為我們是一群逃犯，而愛開玩笑的Michael就這麼狠狠地玩了一手！」瓜奈里四重奏的小提琴家Arnold Steinhardt在訪談中帶著我回憶著幽默的老友Mr. Tree和四重奏的"精采事蹟"。
"Remember, you didn't see anything!" warned one of the men in the hotel room. The frightened waiter, hands trembling like never before, quickly put down the trays of food and ran out the door. He had just seen four middle-aged men and a king-sized bed covered in cash. Still in shock, he heard continuous laughter erupt from the room.
Don't worry, even though this story is real, it was all just a dramatic improvisation by violist Michael Tree, who loved all sorts of jokes.
A few decades ago, the renowned Guarneri Quartet went on tour in Australia from New York. Travel between these two cities is never easy, since even today there is no non-stop flight. It took the quartet more than a day and a half and three connections through Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Southeast Asia to get there. To not waste the effort of traveling this far, the quartet was scheduled to play some fifteen concerts within the duration of 3~4 weeks. Traditionally, musicians would get paid after the final performance of the tour. Nowadays presenters usually pay by check or wire transfer. Things were slightly different a few decades ago as today's convenient banking methods were not yet in the mainstream. Thus the quartet was paid with cash at the end of the tour in a humongous envelope.
The members of the quartet gathered in a hotel room with the money, ready to split it four-ways. Musicians are typically tired and hungry after performances, so the quartet decided to order room service. It just so happens that the waiter arrived with the food the moment they perfectly split the cash into four big piles on the bed.
"He must had thought we were escaped criminals, with the scene of four dudes surrounding a bed covered by cash. Michael caught the theatrical moment and played an unforgettable role," recalled Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the Guarneri Quartet. He shared this special memory of the quartet and his old humorous friend in an interview with me last summer.
追思演說/Memorial Speech for Michael Tree
(黃心芸藝術總監2018年十月發表於茱莉亞音樂院/Speech given by music director, Hsin-Yun Huang, at The Juilliard School in October, 2018)
初到美國時，年輕的我沒有自己的樂器，老師夫婦聽到馬上把他的備用提琴借給我使用，這把Moes and Moes作的中提琴早已被老師孕育出非凡的音色，老師這個恩惠，讓這把琴陪伴我度過學習和初入職場的那些日子，直到我有能力將它買下來，獨特的琴聲也是之後我開啟四重奏生涯的最佳搭擋。這把琴上有個特別「信物」，在拉弦板(Tailpiece)上Michael貼上了一張來自奧地利、看似糖果的貼紙，這個印記總是能開啟有趣的對話！很多人以為這張貼紙是某種貴族或是潮流的象徵，殊不知其實它的真面目是師母最喜愛吃的巧克力的包裝紙。小提琴大師Felix Galimir時不時會走到這把琴這邊來，邊指著貼紙邊搖著頭說：「oy veh！」
可想而知第一次受邀跟老師所屬的瓜奈里四重奏(The Guarneri Quartet)一起合作的我有多麽的興奮，那次還是跟前後任大提琴家David Soyer以及Peter Wiley一起演奏六重奏，我稱之為「豪華版瓜奈里四重奏」！既使排練當下我仍侷促不安地隱隱顫抖著，整組室內樂仍然以誠相待，當Michael喜歡我剛拉的一個段落時，他會用那低沈的聲音說出讚美，而且常常是在音樂會演出中！這當然只有在台上的我聽得見，但也讓我暗自憋笑一直到樂章尾端。而另一位四重奏裡的小提琴家John Dalley，我記得有一次他指著Michael，問我：「妳之前跟"他"學琴？」我傲然的回答：「對呀！」然後他的回應竟然是：「那妳怎麼能把音拉準？」這句話當然是在影射Michael那自成一派，獨特又美麗的音準詮釋。太多時候他能以一顆音或一個樂句發自內心深深的打動我，將那比喻成世上最好的演奏之一，已是一種謙詞了。
It is with great honor and love that we gather here today to remember and celebrate the extraordinary life of one of the greatest violists of our times, Michael Tree. I was very fortunate to have studied with Michael 30 years ago. I can say without any hesitation that Michael's musicianship became the irreplaceable point of reference for every violist. He had a profound impact on us all.
When I entered the Curtis Institute as a freshman, I had been a long time admirer of Mr.Tree's through his recordings and reputation. In my mind I imagined someone formal, relatively strict and hardly ever smiling. Instead I was embraced by one of the warmest people on earth, whose shining blue eyes were always seeking connections and whose words were never harsh, always encouraging. Meeting him and Jani (Mrs. Tree) together immediately gave one the feeling that every student of Michael's was treated as family. The love and care were so genuine, making it impossible to count the infinite ways they helped and touched each person who came into contact with them.
As a young violist I came to the US without an instrument. Michael and Jani immediately lent me his second instrument. It was a Moes and Moes viola which was already warmed by Michael's extraordinary sound. This act of generosity carried me through my young professional years until I was able to afford to own it. It was the voice I depended on for the next few years as I embarked on my own quartet journey. This viola was personalized by the candy sticker that came from Austria, attached by Michael to the tailpiece. This always inspired interesting conversations! Many people thought it was a symbol of something royal or fancy, when in fact it was Jani's favorite chocolate wrapper. Felix Galimir used to come over to the viola, just point at the sticker and shake his head, saying a big "oy veh!"
This is one of countless examples of Michael's singular sense of humor. He had the unique ability to find succinct words or sentences that would keep the crowd entertained and festive. His jokes and stories are always the most memorable part of any dinner party. During my student years at Curtis, Michael often came with his tennis racket so he could play with his great friend -- the luthier Hiroshi Iizuka. We used to have lessons in room I-D on the second floor which had a semi circular closet at the corner. Its shape was rather awkward, tall and skinny. After one of the lessons, he made a dramatic gesture of locking up his tennis racket in the closet while leaving the viola unprotected on top of the piano in plain sight! He would then turn to me and say " priorities ..." of course with a glint in his eyes.
Imagine my excitement when I was invited for the first time to perform with the Guarneri Quartet. It was a sextet configuration with both Peter WIley and David Soyer as cellists and I called it the Guarneri Quartet Deluxe! The group treated me with such sincerity despite my somewhat self conscious jitter. When Michael enjoyed a phrase I have just played, he would utter a low-voiced growl of appreciation. This often happened during concerts! Of course only I could hear it onstage and it usually meant I'd giggle all the way till the end of the movement. I also remember John Dalley turning to me and asking "Did you study with HIM?" Pointing at Michael. I would proudly say "yes!" Then he would say, "so how come you play in tune?" Of course this referred to Michael's most extraordinary unique intonation that is his personal signature. It goes straight to your heart because of its expressive power. There were countless numbers of times when he simply played one note or one phrase that would resonate deeply with me. It would be an understatement to say this is some of the greatest viola playing.
The best teachers are the ones who teach by doing. Michael's relationship with music, his instrument, his quartet, his family and the rest of the world were all reflections of the truest musician with the kindest heart. It is all about the richness of his love. I know that I continue to learn from him long after leaving school. He often said "The greatest artists understand the art of cheating!" This led him to search for better ways to do something all the time even if it was a quartet he had performed hundreds of times; exploring and experimenting with every aspect of fingerings and phrasing. Then he would go on to show me how he drops certain notes in order to make the phrase sound seamless. The solutions were always so clever and practical, most of all they WORK on stage.
In great music making there is the power of truth. It is that sense of universal truth in his sound that will always represent the golden standard of playing. His humility combined with total unswerving musical integrity and expressivity are the most inspiring aspects of his presence.
Michael Tree's legacy is unquantifiable. We will miss his music, his humor, his kindness, his gracious way of being and his passion for life. He has set the bar far far too high for all of us in the future. Thank you, Michael, for touching us in the most extraordinary way and we will forever miss you.