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.
On Wednesday May 21 Kelvin Lau and I taped a 2-hour spot for DBC Radio, an internet program on music. I sang four songs self-accompanied on keys, and Kelvin sang 5 songs with pianist Cedric Chan. We were interviewed by Kathy, with Wilson at the controls. The show airs in late June. When I left at 1am Kelvin was still recording, they went all night!
May 23 brought me to the beautiful new spaces of the suberb Hong Kong Children’s Choir, Kathy Fok, Music Director and Principal Conductor. This is the largest choir in the world with over 5,000 students (yes five thousand). Miss Fok gave me the great honor of teaching at the school in a two-hour workshop with the two highest-leveled choirs in the school, the Concert Choir and Chamber Youth Choir (Florence Cheng, Director). After I sang a couple of tunes with pianist Patrick Lui, The Concert choir performed Unforgettable under Miss Fok’s direction. It was stunning. Such clarity of tone, and joy of singing clearly evident in every face. The other choral pieces performed were Choo Choo Ch’Boogie, Sing, Sing Sing! and Begin the Beguine. These kids are real musicians, and took my breath away. We worked on technique some, and I taught them details that are part of American jazz singing. These students learn fast! I was quite impressed with the quality and work of these groups, and fine conducting by Miss Fok and Miss Cheng.
That evening I had an award-winning meal with Kelvin Lau’s family, to honor Mr. Lau’s birthday. This was at a 5-star buffet offering what must have been more than 50 options from cheeses and fruits, to many main courses and sides, and desserts I couldn’t pass up. Wow. Thank you so much for the special treat!
On May 24 I gave a 2.5-hour master class for Result Multimedia Productions, Rex Chan’s studio, featuring several prominent musical artists and movie actors in Hong Kong. It was wonderful hearing these gifted folks. Each one of eight artists performed a song before a small audience, and then I worked with them on technique and style. A very special afternoon.
That evening I also gave a two-hour workshop for The A Capella Association, under the direction of Founder Fung Kwok Tung. About 30 singing students sat in a circle, and we worked together on understanding vocal technique as well as some of the differences between classical singing and contemporary styles.
May 25 was a special treat. I was a VIP guest for the annual Hong Kong Treble Choir’s concert in the spectaculuar Hong Kong Cutural Center. I had the opportunity to chat with President Leon Tong, and guest conductor from Taiwan, Rita Lu. About 600 children performed in the concert before an appreciative audience of nearly 2,000, and I was invited on stage for a short song and interview. Over my two weeks in Hong Kong I got to know Swan Choi, the Choir’s Director, a lovely and gracious lady indeed. She has done an amazing job getting all 600 kids on stage, organized, and performing together! I am impressed.
My last night was about eating and shopping with my new friends Amanda, Nancy and Gary. We traversed the stalls of the Ladies Market in Mongkok, bargaining for some Chinese specialties including a jade bracelet for my daughter and one made of tiger’s eye beads for me, a bird painting on fabric for our home, and a single-serving porcelain tea strainer/cup for Mark’s birthday. I also brought home some taste treats for my family, some a little savory and some a little sweet. Then, I rehearsed with Patrick Lui’s jazz trio, for our September appearances in Hong Kong and Mainland China. These guys sound great. Two are Berklee graduates. This is going to be killer.
May 26 It’s been a whirlwind over the past week… lots to update on. Home to Boston today. 26 hours door-to-door. It will take 3-4 days to feel “back to normal,” but it’s good to be home, too. I will miss Hong Kong and my many new friends! Looking forward to my return in September for the Hong Kong Jazz Festival and tour to Mainland China with Patrick Lui’s jazz ensembles, and seeing my friends again. I have been invited to return to several places for more master classes and teaching lessons. So excited!