E-Newsletter No. 1 (November, 2018)

28/11/2018

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

不斷地學習和傾聽來自各方不一樣的聲音,是我身為亞洲、美國中提琴家的日常。不論您想精進琴藝、為下個求學的階段做準備、尋找工作崗位,亦或是(像我一樣)愛上弦樂四重奏,在這趟驚奇的旅程中,我們希望能協助所有的中提琴家們找到喜悅。生命如歌,一起分享這份熱忱是非常榮幸的一件事。
黃心芸

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

「記住!你什麼都沒看到!」飯店客房裡一位男子這樣警告著,那位發覺自己小命不保的服務員,雙手已經顫抖到無法控制,趕緊把餐盤放下,奪門而出。驚魂未定的他,聽著房間裡傳來陣陣笑聲,一邊憶著房間裡撲滿了紙鈔的雙人床,還有四位來自外地的中年壯漢,想著自己是不是剛剛撿回一命,全身冷汗直流。

別緊張,雖然這是真實事件,但也只是中提琴家Michael Tree展現戲劇天份的一場即興表演。
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。

他們回到了下榻的飯店,聚集在剛剛"運鈔"音樂家的房間,分配這趟巡演的收入。由於演出完又餓又累,大家就提議在作業同時,叫上客房送餐服務,填填肚子。正當大家終於把大袋鈔票分好成四堆時,服務員剛好要進來上菜。

「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.

錄音/Recording 

Brahms: Sonata in F minor, Op. 120, No. 1, III. Allegretto grazioso (Michael Tree, viola; Richard Goode, piano)


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)

在這充滿光榮與愛的一天,讓我們一起懷念Michael Tree輝煌的一生,這位我們世代中最偉大的中提琴家之一。三十年前,我很幸運能跟隨老師學習,我敢非常肯定的說,Michael的音樂造詣成為了中提琴家的標竿,也深深地影響著我們每一位。

由於Tree老師的錄音和風評,在我大學一年級踏入寇蒂斯音樂院時,早已久仰大名,心中想像的老師應當是有些嚴肅、不苟言笑,哪知見面時才發現他的個性何其溫暖,那對閃亮的雙眼總是在尋找交集,他所說的字字句句都多麽的鼓舞人心,沒有一絲苛刻。老師和師母Jani對待每一位學生宛如家人,與他們相處瞬間便會感到如此,而那來自心底的關懷與愛,提拔且幫助著每位上門請益的人,這些感人事蹟多到我們無法一一列舉。

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!」

風趣Michael擁有充滿個人風格的「幽默感」,他能簡潔有力的用單一個字或一句話逗得所有人哈哈大笑,每每餐會後大家記得最清楚的總是他分享的冷笑話和故事。在我在寇帝斯跟隨他學習的期間,老師時不時會帶著他的網球拍來學校,待下班後跟製琴師摯友Hiroshi Iizuka一起打球,而上課地點通常是位於二樓的I-D教室,裡邊角落有個半圓形的衣櫥,高高窄窄的形狀有點彆扭。有一次我下課後,老師信手捻來開了個玩笑,他把網球拍鎖進櫥櫃但把中提琴大辣辣、赤裸裸的放在鋼琴上,隨後帶著閃閃發光的眼神轉向我說:「財產......!」

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。

為師的最高境界是以身作則,Michael跟音樂、樂器、四重奏、家人和世界的關係與感情是賦有善心的音樂家最貼切的寫照,那是他對所有事物滿滿的愛。縱使是畢業以後,我仍不斷從恩師身上學習,記得他常說:「最好的藝術家了解如何投機!」這個座右銘一路伴隨著他,激勵他從已身經百戰的曲目中,繼續永無止境的尋覓更好的演奏詮釋,發掘和嘗試每種指法和樂句的唱法。此外他也跟我分享他如何取捨一些譜上的音去成全更加天衣無縫的樂句,這些結論總是精巧又實用,在舞台上發光發亮。

好的音樂演奏總是充溢著真理,他的琴聲能不假思索的被說服,再再證明了他已達到演奏音樂的最高境界。然而謙遜、表現力和音樂上堅定不移的完整性亦是他存在最鼓舞人心的面貌。

Michael Tree遺留下的珍貴記憶無法估量,我們將緬懷他的演奏、他的幽默、他的善良、他的親切還有他對人生的熱忱,對於我們所有人來說,他所設下的門檻實在太太高了。Michael,謝謝你用最棒的方式打動我們,我們會永遠想念你!

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.