Sunday, 25 August 2013
26th August 2013
Well, hi Readers,
You must be wondering why I've named this blog The Titan. That, dear friends, and I hope there are some music lovers amongst you, is the name of Mahler's first symphony. I have just played it with the MANUKAU SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA here in Auckland on Saturday night and it will be a night to remember. It is an incredible work, in four parts, the longest being Part 4. It has all the passion and pathos of a truly great drama and for variety and pace, it outstrips Wagner's Ring Cycle or anything that Wagner wrote and I am a fan of the man.
Let me tell you about the Manukau Symphony. It was formed 20 years ago (Saturday was our anniversary which was celebrated with wine and cake post-concert) and was named after Manukau City. Auckland at that time was divided into 4 cities, so spread out is it. But now we've gone back to being one and the mayor presides over more people than the Prime Minister can command as a third of the population lives in Auckland. It is also the most diverse, culturally and is the Polynesian city of the world, there being more Polynesians here than all over the South Pacific and most of them live in Manukau. However, the Polynesian aspect stops there as both the orchestral players and the audience are mainly Europeans or Asians (Chinese and Korean). But changing the name is difficult and we have built our reputation on it.
Anyway, The Titan concert was magnificient. We had a full hall and the audience leapt up and gave us at least a ten minute standing ovation. So we twenty years, we have finally come of age. We now play to packed halls and with each concert, we go up a notch, having done Rachmaninov's piano concertos, Tchaikovsky's several symphonies, Elgar, Beethoven, etc. in all their glory.
To having blown my trumpet on behalf of my orchestra, I shall continue giving a report about my literary work. At this time A CHINESE ODYSSEY: THE MING ADMIRAL has been edited and I am in the process of making the corrections. While the editing was being done, I carried with THE CHINESE DIASPORA: A LIFE DIVIDED which is now nearing the end. This third part of the book covers the Chinese Labour Corp in the First World War in the trenches of France. I'm sure this is news to many of you because that war basically involved Britain, France and Germany though Turks and Anzacs were also heavily involved. But over 140,000 Chinese were shipped and trained there to be coolies and they leave their graves in various parts of France and Belgium. The Ming Admrial will be out by Christmas. Now I haven't time to continue with the short story series which will continue asap. Ciao Everybody.
Thursday, 8 August 2013
Spring in Winter
Well, what a time of music this last month has been. The Auckland Symphony played two concerts for community and was well received as always by packed theatres. The programme was called Little Britain and Peter Thomas, our conductor and director cheekily started the concert with God Save the Queen, an anthem we have not used for about 40 years. New Zealand's national anthem is God of Nations, which we normally sing in both English and Maori. So that surprised everybody who scrambled to their feet!
Have you noticed how most people only know the first verse of their national anthems? We have three verses and everyone I know just knows and sings the first.
Well, below is the photo of my first book which is on all e-book sites. It's the first of a trilogy on the Chinese Diaspora of the 19th Century and takes in the Taiping Rebellion, the biggest peasant uprising in China by Hong Xiuquan who believed himself to be God's Chinese Son and Jesus' younger brother. The story takes the protagonist to Australia and New Zealand where he ends up in a Christianised Maori village struggling to come to terms with their new religion and loss of land in a new and changing world. So it tells the culture of both races in both countries as well as the gold mining days in Australia and Central Otago, New Zealand. If you like your stories meaty, full of heart, then this book is for you.
There is a free chap on Amazon too. Please give me four stars!
Now my serialised short story, The Connection continues. Enjoy....
Soon Chingmei’s food ran out.
There were many villages scattered across the valleys where she exchanged work in the fields for food - work normally done by men. At each place she stopped the stories were similar to Lungshan. The men had been taken and none returned.
When the day finally came and she saw the curving monument looming on the distant mountains, her spirits lifted. She walked faster. It took most of the day but she reached the wall just as the sun was sinking. It cast shadows across her path like a demon looking for a soul.
Thousands of wooden shacks cluttered the hillsides and thousands of men worked cutting and chiselling stones out of the mountains. Above the din, the shouting of the work commanders and the occasional crack of a whip mingled with the neighing of horses as mounted soldiers rode back and forth.
Exhausted, Chingmei slumped weeping to the ground. How could she hope to find her husband and father amongst all these men? Her clothes and eighth pair of shoes were in tatters, her calloused feet bled but her resolve was still strong. She decided to rest for the night and in the morning she would begin her search for Honglun and her father.
Chingmei rose with the sun.
She stopped a passing guard. “Sir, can you show me where I can find the men from Lungshan? Theycame three years ago, three hundred men in all.”
“Be gone, woman, who is to know where anyone comes from?” He strode away.
Dispirited, Chingmei walked on further. She walked over many hills. Late in the afternoon she found a man who knew the way.
‘Sister, see that large gate over there? The men you seek are just beside it.’
She ran to the gate. She shouted the names she knew. Faces turned, tongue-tied, these ghosts of her beloved kinsmen. Finally one found his voice. “Hong, Hong, your wife is here!” From a distance, a skeletal figure with sunken eyes, cracked lips and sinewy arms held stiffly apart, moved towards her. The sight of the advancing man appalled Chingmei but she recognised her husband and rushed to him.
‘At last, at last,’ she sobbed. ‘Where is Father?’ Her legs, weakened by her arduous journey collapsed under her and she fell to the ground.
Honglun knelt beside her, clutching her thin shoulders with his bleeding fingers. Tears rolled down his leathered cheeks.
‘Chingmei, your father died on the march here as did mine,’ Honglun said. ‘We had to leave them where they fell. There were many others who died that way. Only the young survived.’
To be continued.