Jeannie Gagné is an Associate Professor of Voice at Berklee. International Programs at Berklee recently helped Jeannie plan a trip to Hong Kong where she is teaching and performing. Here she recounts her experiences while traveling abroad. You can read other posts about her trip here.
It’s already Sunday May 18 here! These days have been full and wonderful and I have much to share.
I’ve taught several voice lessons, this has been really fun. I’m making many new friends. I am really falling in love with people here, so generous, so warm.
I’ve tasted lots of new foods (though it’s a bit tough being a wheat-free vegetarian!) and seen more of Hong Kong. The way to get around is by walking, taxi or the metro. There are taxis everywhere!
There are also many walkways built above the busy streets to make walking easy, very smart for pedestrians.
Friday night I had the great pleasure to work with members of the Hong Kong Virtuoso Chorus directed by Kelvin Lau. We worked on circle singing, rhythm and movement, and I taught them my new song, “Friends.” Kelvin wrote a new chorus for the song in Chinese, which everyone sang, love it! They tried to teach me a popular song in Chinese, well, let’s just say I learned the melody. We recorded our work together which will be part of a YouTube video I’ll edit when I get home.
Last night I taught a master class at the Baron School of Music, a school in the Berklee College of Music international network. That was a great time. I spent an hour showing healthy vocal technique and a little bit about our anatomy for singing. Then I worked with five students who performed –Mitsu, Thomas, Ada, Felix and Dorothy. Wonderful! Thank you to everyone at Baron for your generous and warm hospitality. I look forward to visiting you again. (Pictures to follow, my iPad wasn’t charging, grrr!)
Today is my birthday. What a way to celebrate! Gifts, hugs, chocolate, singing, lots of smiles and well wishes. I was treated to a magnificent brunch, thank you to Kelvin, Rosa, Nancy and Stella! Here we are, and a view from the restaurant.
And if that wasn’t enough, Kelvin graciously got us tickets to see pop star Ivana Wong at the Hong Kong Coliseum. Wow, what a show! Costumes, lights, a very enthusiastic and skilled band. Miss Hong was stunning, with a sweet soprano voice that shows power and excellent control. The crowd LOVED it!
Hong Kong, Tuesday May 20
The last two days I have been teaching private lessons, and taking some downtime to explore Hong Kong. Kelvin and I also had a delicious buffet dinner with Swan Choi, Director at the Hong Kong Treble Choir, and the Choir’s manager Mandy.
Getting around Hong Kong is extremely easy and clearly marked. The subway system is in English and Chinese, so it’s hard to mess up, especially for this city girl. On every subway car there are easy-to-follow progress maps using lights telling you exactly where you are, what stop is next and in what direction you’re headed. Today I went by myself to Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street in Mongkok to get in some serious shopping hunting.
In the Mongkok Ladies market, hundreds of vendors squeeze together in a several-streets long outdoor market. You find something you like, you bargain. Just like downtown NYC! I definitely found a couple of sweet deals today.
I also noticed walking around today that bamboo is used in construction to create support structures, instead of the steel pipes used in the US. Bamboo is plentiful, and very strong. I’m told that Hong Kong is always building anew, and taking down the old.
Yesterday we indulged my nature girl by visiting Ocean Park to see the panda exhibit, beautiful plantings, and sea creatures. Wow!
Tomorrow we will be interviewed for a radio station that does a program about singing. Kelvin will talk about his music education and studying at Berklee College of Music. I will sing a couple of songs and talk about singing technique. We’ll sing the hit song in Chinese together that I just learned, too. Wish me luck! Then the rest of the week is very full, master classes, choir work, more private lessons, and guests to enjoy the impressive concert by the Hong Kong Treble Choir of about 500 children, with an on-stage interview. 🙂